In which acclaimed author Frances Hardinge and her editor Michael Stearns (henceforth our heroes) undertake a breathless, breakneck tour across the continent and back—visiting seven cities, seventeen schools, eight libraries and bookstores, and one enormous (and rather interesting) gathering of national booksellers. A thrilling adventure filled with moments of high danger, humor, and courageous acts.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Day Nine (May 17)

Travel day. Much haste between gates. An absence of meals. Wide-eyed and ravenous, our heroes gallop from San Francisco to Raleigh. We present here a recounting of the previous night's utterly fabulous event at Books Inc. in Burlingame, with various [bracketed] travel details peppered throughout the account. The first appearance of "blibble"—a sign of our heroes' fatigue?

One of many jaw-droppingly beautiful displays for Fly by Night, this bookstack greeted our heroes as they entered the store. "Blibble," Frances said, overwhelmed and able to speak only nonsense.

In another window we came across a kite-propelled floating coffee house, complete with a tiny goose. Frances again murmured, "Blibble," perhaps because she was touched and speechless. Or perhaps because rational thought was no more.

The manager of Books Inc., the one-time professional storyteller and all-around stylish and smart Christopher Stroth, introduced Frances for her reading with such praise and love for the novel that the threat of "blibble" retreated. [Ten minutes between connections leaves our heroes quite literally dashing down the concourse, ignoring the food court and the promise of lunch.] Before reading to the audience of forty or so people, Frances explained that the chapters are structured alphabetically, with each letter corresponding to some element of crime or punishment—"A is for Arson," "B is for Blackmail," and so forth. Later, when asked whether she had used the entire alphabet, she admitted that she'd stopped at "V is for Verdict." "There just aren't that many crimes involving xylophones and zebras," she said." [And what was there to eat on the plane? Pretzels.]

Michael spoke briefly about book packaging, and then Frances took questions from the audience, which was made up not only of many adults, but also several precocious and well-read children (one of whom dropped into French for part of her question). [Touchdown in Raleigh, followed by a quiet meal in the hotel. Tomorrow? Three schools and another flight. O glamorous book tour! O exhaustion!] Afterward, Frances and Michael went out with Christopher and an enormously talented writer friend of his for a quick bite. A great evening start to finish. (Lastly, a shout-out to I, Raccoon and Purple Monkey.)

A handbill produced by Books Inc. alerting readers to a treasonous goose. Saracen nonetheless escapes the evening without being apprehended. [The art on the flyer is cleverly adapted from the British edition of Fly by Night.]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is a very fine kite-propelled coffeehouse !
- xan

6:40 PM  

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