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.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Day Thirteen (May 21)

Washington, D.C. in the flush of spring. A frenzy of signatures at Book Expo America. Saracen meets his public. A sense that the End is Near, and a dash of pre-retrospective sorrow.

At the head of the line, a familiar face—could it be Kat from Wild Rumpus?

At Book Expo America, Frances fine-tunes her autograph as she makes her way through several cases of Fly by Night. One attendee after another mentions the attraction of a certain "homicidal goose"; from his perch on the autograph table, Saracen quivers with barely-concealed pleasure. Among the many booksellers are Kat from Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis, and Ron Hogan, one of the Galleycats from Mediabistro.

The day is a short one, but tomorrow is the final day of the tour, with several stock signings at local bookstores, a school visit, and a long trans-Atlantic flight for Frances. Anticipatory tears—of joy? no, sorrow—are shed. The tour has been long, true, but it has also been fun, and our heroes are enormously grateful to have met so many readers. Every book should be so lucky as to be so warmly embraced.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Day Twelve (May 20)

A short day. A signing in a signature store. A train from New York to Washington.

Greeting our heroes at the door to New York's premier children's bookstore, Books of Wonder, is a top-of-shelf display of Fly by Night and a poster for the day's group signing.

At Books of Wonder, after a warm introduction by store owner Peter Glassman, Frances takes part in a series of brief presentations by the day's list of children's books luminaries. Among them, Howard Fine (All Aboard the Dinotrain), Arlene Alda (Did You Say Pears?), Rob Scotton (Russell and the Lost Treasure), and Angie Sage (Magyk and Flyte). Librarian and book blogger Betsy Bird was rumored to be present, and Frances swears she saw her, but she somehow escaped the scene without meeting Michael. Afterward, it is off to catch a train to Washington, D.C., for the annual Book Expo America and a final few visits.

Frances works hard alongside veteran children's books talents Angie Sage, Rob Scotton, Arlene Alda, and Howard Fine.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Day Eleven (May 19)

New York, New York. Two classes of formidably smart students. The reader as outlaw. The revision-rich road to publication.

Before reading a selection at Dalton Middle School, Frances explains that in the world of her novel, she and everyone in the room would be engaged in criminal activity.

At both Dalton Middle School and the Little Red Schoolhouse, Frances began by pointing out that in our world, there is nothing strange about an author giving a talk to a group of readers about a book, nothing strange about that book not bearing a governmental seal of approval. But if this were the world of Fly by Night, "the lights would be off, I would have likely had to smuggle the book in under my coat, and your teachers would have to be on the lookout at the doors in case constables showed up with muskets. And if the police did appear, we would all have to make a run for it lest we be arrested and some of us hanged. Because in the world of Fly by Night, books are considered dangerous." She then launched into a description of Mosca Mye, the novel's heroine, who is hated and feared by people because—like the students at the schools—"she is able to read."

Not only were members of the audience readers, but many were writers also, and they peppered Frances with well-considered questions about how she came to write and publish the book. And then our heroes were off for a bit of rest before the next day's signing and trip to Washington, D.C.

In a room at the Little Red Schoolhouse full of talented writers (their takes on Beowulf from Grendel's point-of-view were pinned to the right-hand wall), Frances tells the thrilling story of how her first novel came to be published.

Day’s Most Highbrow Questions:
“How many changes (edits) were there per page?”
(Answer: “It varied a great deal. Some chapters such as ‘J is for Judgment’ were rewritten completely and unrecognizably. On average, there were probably two or three per page.”)
“Will Fly by Night be translated?”
(Answer: Yes, into many languages, among them French, Greek, Portuguese, Finnish, Danish, Swedish, and Chinese.)
“If the novel is based on the eighteenth century, are parts of the story based on specific events and people?”
(Answer: Yes—much of it is based upon real historical figures and events, but with lots of big differences. But you don’t need to know a lot about English history to understand what is going on.)

Friday, May 19, 2006

Day Ten (May 18)

Another trifecta of schools. Frances at the top of her voice. The origin of the title. A slow descent into exhaustion and blibble, and a surprise guest blogger.

Notoriously soft-spoken, Frances “bellows,” but the students are still leaning forward to hear her at Moore Square Middle School

The next morning, our heroes, bleary and weary from many days on the road, staggered into Moore Square Middle School, where they were warmly received. Frances “bellowed” (her description) in order to be heard by all hundred-twenty thoughtful, sharp-eared students. (If anyone could not hear her, they apparently did not mind.) blibble Neither she nor Michael fell asleep. Later, at Centennial Middle School, Frances revealed that Fly by Night had originally blibble been called A Way with Words. A title deemed Not Terribly Exciting. blibble “I came up with the title Fly by Night because Mosca herself is named after a fly. In addition, at the end of the first chapter, Mosca, Saracen, and Clent all flee under cover of darkness—in effect, flying by night. And finally, ‘fly by night’ has a ring of ‘here today, gone tomorrow,’ not quite legal, not quite trustworthy—much like Clent or many of the other characters.” blibble

Frances demonstrates her karate chop . . .

. . . but the students of Centennial Middle School do not seem intimidated.

A banner welcomes our heroes . . . shortly before they tear it off the wall, roll it up, and steal it away.

Finally, our heroes, their exhaustion beginning to show, shambled into Ligon Middle School, where Frances admired the blibble hung on the blibble, and amused the receptive, keen-witted blibbles with blibble and blibble about blibble. Then, blibbling blibble and blibble blibble blibble, blibbleblibble


Honk honk honk honkhonkhonkhonk. Hissssssssssssss HONK. Honk! Honk! Honk! Honkhonkhisshonkhisshonkhiss—hiss, honk honk honk. Honk. Hiss, honk!

[From the editor: Our best quess is that at this point, our heroes having descended into gibberish, Saracen has taken over the blogging. Our knowledge of goose is somewhat elementary, but we think he is expressing gratitude to the students of Ligon Middle School, apologizing for his caretakers, and reassuing us that thanks to his intervention, Frances and Michael made their plane and reached New York safely.]

Ligon students line up for autographs, including the mysterious “Mischievous Bookworm.”

Day’s Tastiest Questions:
“What do you do to unblock writer’s block?”
(Answer: “I am a great believer in panic and caffeine. For example, I attend writing group meetings to give myself a deadline.”)
“When you were growing up, who was your favorite cartoon character?”
(Answer: Bugs Bunny. He earns his success. Unlike the Road Runner, who is the cartoonist’s “pet,” Bugs gets by through being clever and resourceful and ingenious.)
“Why do you like to write stories about crime and killing people?” [From Michael: “That is, what’s wrong with you?”]
(Answer: When younger, Frances always enjoyed adventure stories, murder mysteries, swashbucklers—stories in which a lot of things happened. She still finds them exciting.)

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.]

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Day Eight (May 16)

A hat-trick of appearances. Autographs galore. A strangely positive way of looking at "rejection." Three schools full of intimidatingly smart and thoughtful students. Salad and pizza.

"I am not here alone. That man with the camera is my editor, Michael Stearns, who is here to make sure that I don't attempt to escape and make a run for the door."

Filled with hope, weird stories, and cashews, our heroes attempt not one, not two, but three school visits—topped off by a bookstore appearance. (Please hold your applause.) Only their audiences can say whether they were coherent by the end of the day. At Graystone School and Almaden Country School, when asked whether Fly by Night is the start of a series, Frances revealed that she had just handed in her next book. Set in our world, it nonetheless has fantastical elements (which Cannot Be Revealed Just Yet). And she’s begun work on her third novel, which features volcanoes (mostly because she climbed a few of them while on her year-long fandango) and, most likely, one monkey (to please her travel partner). She would, however, love to write another book about Mosca and her adventures.

Frances reads before a small group of intensely smart readers at Almaden Country School.

Dave's Avenue School? This must be the place.

After a quick lunch of salad and pizza, our heroes went to Dave’s Avenue School, where Frances talked about rejection, and about how before publishing Fly by Night she submitted many stories that were rejected, and how even the most successful writers usually have stacks of rejections as thick as a book. But she never gave up. Quite the contrary. “A rejection letter isn’t a sign that you should stop writing; it’s a sign that you are serious about what you are doing.”

Before the massed fifth graders of Dave's Avenue School, Frances briefly forgets to remove her "confidence hat." (She remembered, however, before the extended Q&A.)

Day’s Most Striking Questions:
”Will you always be a writer?”
(Answer: “I am going to keep writing until I’m stopped. My current plan is to write books until I’m dead.” Laughter.)
”That guy Mosca hangs out with? Did he kill her father?”
(Answer: I’m not going to say anything about who kills anybody. You’re going to have to read it to find out!)
”Why do the pages of some books have rough, jagged edges?”
(Answer: Book pages are printed on big sheets that are folded again and again until you have a block of thirty-two pages. Centuries ago, when you read a book, you would have to rip through the edges of those pages with a letter opener. Nowadays, the pages are usually trimmed for you by a machine. When publishers leave those ragged edges—called “deckled edges”—it is to make the books look old-fashioned.)

This is becoming quite a habit: For bookplate after bookplate, Frances draws goose after goose after goose.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Day Seven (May 15)

A grievous error, a ridiculously early check out. A harrowing tale of kidnapped chapters. Bookstore signing punctuated by outbreaks of I Spy. Frequent idling.

Among the many students at Castle Rock Middle School were several budding writers (as well as the odd person avoiding science class). They all listen rapt to the tale of a girl and her goose.

Our heroes rose for a 6:45 pick-up. Alas, the car was actually scheduled for 10:15. (Frances wisely double-checked and returned to bed. Considerably less wisely, Michael checked out. And then idled.) At Castle Rock Middle School, before some fifty or so kind, attentive students, Frances related the story of how her novel found a publisher thanks to the cunning! perfidy! and outright trickery! of one of her very best friends, fellow novelist Rhiannon Lassiter. Fed up with Frances’s insecure mewling about the novel, Rhiannon “kidnapped” the first five chapters, showed them to her editor, and within a week Frances had a book contract. After the talk, there was more idling, with our heroes splayed on comfy couches, reading and "flash napping." (That is, nodding off.) At an evening bookstore signing at the Park Meadows Barnes & Noble, Frances and Michael played I Spy. (Michael, uncharacteristically disdaining fancy-pants vocabulary, disallowed spectacles for eyeglasses and claimed Frances was cheating.) Frances autographed a towering pile of books, then the two of them leaped into a car and were whisked to the airport and San Francisco.

A patron watches patiently while Frances draws a goose, using Saracen as her model.

Day’s Most Business-Oriented Questions:
“Do you have to be a certain age to have a book published?”
(Answer: Not at all. Many writers (Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, Christopher Pauolini) brought out books in their teens. And some teen authors such as S.E. Hinton have contributed important books.)
"How long does it take to get a book published?"
(Answer: Once the final manuscript is accepted, it can take anywhere from a year to fifteen months. Michael then went into tediously thorough detail about sales and marketing. There were enormous yawns. Snores. Crickets heard chirping outside. Etc.)
"Who gets the author comments [aka "blurbs"] that appear on the back of the book?"
(Answer: A book's editor sends out early copies of the manuscript and begs, or simply lucks out and finds an author who is not only generous with her time, but who also happens to appreciate a particular book.)

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Day Six (May 14)

A well-deserved day of rest. Many meals. Exhaustion and merry-making. Denver's Natural History Museum. Rave reviews.

After several days of touring, not only has the color been drained from the faces of our heroes, but also, it seems, drained out of the very world itself. A hard-earned day of rest is in order.

In lieu of actual visits, instead we give to you the first two (dare we call them "rave"?) reviews of Fly by Night, which coincidentally came in this week. The first is a starred review from Publishers Weekly, which writes: "Hardinge's stylish way with prose gives her sprawling debut a literate yet often silly tone.... Hardinge firmly plants in the novel the heroine's serious love of reading, which informs nearly everything Mosca does." And from Locus, "Every paragraph, sometimes every sentence, is a delight, so much so I'm tempted to quote passage after passage.... [but] I'll let you have the pleasure of discovering this book by yourself. Fly by Night reminded me by turns of Joan Aiken, of Lemony Snicket, of James Thurber's marvelous The Thirteen Clocks, and of Philip Pullman. In the end, though, it is unique, triumphantly itself."

A bit of relaxation, a touch of leisure, and our heroine is not only ready to face tomorrow's challenges, but downright giddy about what is to come.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Day Five (May 13)

Guerilla hits at a local B&N and an airport bookshop. Delicate discussions of freedom of speech. Two familiar faces among the crowd. More cookies.

On the way to his appearance at the Edina Community Library, Saracen rehearses his role in the talk.

Our heroes read this notice with great interest ... in order to find out what they would be saying.

Saturday's sole appearance was at Edina Community Library, where our heroes spoke to a small but attentive group of avid readers. Frances recounted tales of eighteenth-century rogues—among them, Jenny Diver, who attended church services with a pair of fake arms clasped in prayer before her so that she could use her real hands to pick the pockets of the devout on either side. And Jonathan Wild, who ran London's underworld for a number of years and whose criminal network was the inspiration for the Locksmiths Guild in Fly by Night. The notion of censorship was raised and discussed, but fortunately all involved departed before the constables were able to locate our gathering. (And finally, many thanks to the two familiar faces in the audience: one girl from Carondelet Catholic Academy and another from South View Middle School—we were glad to see you again, and grateful that you were willing to brave Frances and Michael's presentation a second time.)

Frances describes a world in which there might be musket-bearing constables at the door, and for a moment, even seems to hear them.

Later, at a downtown Minneapolis Barnes & Noble, Frances flew in and defaced a small pile of copies of Fly by Night with her signature (over the faint protests of a very kind staff member). Later, at an airport bookshop, someone turned two copies of the book face out on the shelf, though the culprit's identity remained undetermined.

Day’s Most Intriguing Questions:
“Is the issue of banned books relevant to today?”
(Answer: Absolutely. The question of freedom of speech has been relevant to every age, and it is not an issue that is ever safe to ignore.)
“You don't talk down to kids in your novel—is that important to you?”
(Answer: I think it is very important not to talk down to my younger readers. I distinctly remember when I was seven years old I knew that adults thought I was stupid, and I left myself a mental note so that when I was an adult I would remember that children that age aren't actually stupid at all.)

Day Four (May 12)

Our heroes fly by night and arrive to more rain. A library with pizza and questions. The notion of B-movies and B-books. A gleeful rush for autographs. Many goose drawings. Ubiquitous cookies.

For lunch: Pizza, cookies, and an author and her goose.

Rose at oh-dark-thirty to catch plane from Chicago to Minneapolis, thence to South View Middle School, where the media center has a swanky café with upholstered red leather stools, and where the students are formidably well-read. While the audience dined on hot pizza and cookies, our heroine regaled them with the tales of the sinister English villages where she grew up.

Later, after a short jaunt cross town, our heroes arrived at Carondelet Catholic Academy. Two classes of keen-witted, remarkably book-wise students showered Frances and Michael with questions, cookies, and items to be autographed. Said one girl on approaching Michael for a signature: “You just looked so lonely over here.” Frances drew goose after goose after goose. (Congratulations to teacher Beth Huebsch on receiving her masters degree!)

Frances grandly sweeps off her hat. In the process, her arm is transformed into something mysterious and vaguely scary.

A shadowy goose-wielding figure looms over the innocents of Carondelet Catholic Academy. And do they show fear? They do not.

The day wrapped up with an impromptu stop in at the fabulous children's bookstore Wild Rumpus, where Frances signed stock, met booksellers, and was told by an absent buyer that "you rock my socks." A fitting note on which to call it a night.

Day’s Most Unusual Questions:
“Is your novel based on Fahrenheit 451?”
(Answer: No, though they do have some parallels.)
“There are B-movies. But are there B-books?”
(Answer: Of course. In fact, there are even D-books. But B-books, like B-movies, are often a great deal of fun.)
“When you were our age, what grades did you get?”
(Answer: Most of her grades were actually quite good, save for Needlework and Sport. “Sewing machines are like rottweilers—they can smell fear.”)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Day Three (May 11)

Marriage is proposed (after a fashion) to Frances. Michael makes a startling admission. An offer of adoption is made regarding a certain maniacal goose. Wind and rain and a well-founded fear of tornados expressed.

Partners in crime, Frances and Saracen tell the touching story of another goose named Jemima, who shared Saracen’s valiant, violent temperament.

The day began at Ridge Elementary School, with Frances speaking to an astonishingly smart and attentive collection of 150 fifth graders. Michael regaled (horrified?) the students by the not-quite-true admission that he had abandoned a career as a top model in order to follow his true passion: The written word. Frances told of the inspiration for Saracen, a friend’s goose, named Jemima, who belied her sweet, waddling demeanor by breaking someone’s leg in two places. (In Jemima’s defense, this person was climbing over the fence, and Jemima was doing her guard-goose duty.)

Michael tells a wholly disbelieving audience about his all-too-brief career as a high-paid fashion model.

The afternoon found our heroes at Joliet Montessori School, speaking to two groups of startlingly sharp students, including one group of first, second, and third graders. Asked one, “Why did you choose a goose for the main character’s pet?” (Saracen bristled.) Frances explained that “If you have a dog that bites and maims people, that’s not very funny. But even if a goose hurts somebody, geese are funny. They waddle.” In another group, a student quizzed Frances about whether or not she liked the portrayal of Mosca on the jacket of the book. She does, very much so. “I visualized her as being more pale and pointy, but the artist got the black eyes, the black hair, and the white eyebrows.”

Razor-sharp minds throw out question after question. Frances does not flee.

Juliet Montessori students, Frances Hardinge, Saracen (perched on a willing shoulder), and many books.

At day’s end, a planned flight to Minneapolis was scuttled due to high winds, fierce rains, and the threat of a tornado. Taking a hint from the wrathful sky, our heroes stayed another night in Chicago.

Day’s Most Unexpected Questions:
“Are you married?” (put to Frances)
(Answer: No, why do you ask?)
“Can I have the goose?”
(Answer: Unfortunately, no. Saracen is insistent on accompanying us for the rest of the tour.)
“How do you express yourself in your book?”
(Answer: With words. And, after a small pause, Frances explained that she liked to play around with the sound of words, and with humor.)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Day Two (May 10)

The goose-shaped hole in the tour is unexpectedly filled. The popularity of “big butts” during the late Victorian era. The curious fate of hats.

The day began at The Bookstall in Winnetka, a fantastic store run by people with extraordinarily good taste, where Frances signed a towering stack of books before dashing off on the day's school visits.

A book stack at the Bookstall.

Frances begins her talk by removing her “confidence hat,” only because Michael insists upon it.

First on the itinerary was Hubbard Woods School, which found our heroes hemmed in by a sea of fourth graders. When asked about the inspiration for her novel, Frances discussed a historical reenactment group to which she belongs. “We stage interactive murder mysteries in stately homes. We dress up in period costumes, fight duels, scheme, blackmail each other, and hold very loud ‘secret conversations’ behind bushes—and the public can eavesdrop, interrogate us, take sides, dance with us, and try to guess which of us is the murderer.” After Frances’s second reading, from the chapter “M is for Murder,” one girl in the front row was heard to remark, “That was really scary.”

“You may have noticed that I talk funny,” Frances tells the students by way of explaining that she lives in Oxford. As for her fondness for black garments, no explanation was forthcoming.

Frances reads a particularly thrilling passage in which Saracen resists an attempt to keep him from his friend Mosca Mye.

Next stop was Grace Lutheran School and a group of precocious and intimidatingly articulate fifth- and sixth-graders. The session began when Ms. Margaret, teacher emeritus, held up a tiny goose. Immediately the students raised their hands high; one launched into a impressively detailed goose classification, including several latin terms that left Frances and Michael dazed and daunted. We would recount it verbatim here, but have neither the knowledge nor vocabulary. The group was quite friendly. Frances told a moving tale of how one of her hats had vanished under mysterious circumstances in the heart of El Salvador. Many wept. Happily, another hat was delivered to her by a good friend in New Zealand. And happier still, another friend was delivered by Ms. Margaret to Frances, and the tour’s mascot was found.

Grace Lutheran teacher emeritus Ms. Margaret reunites Frances with a long-lost goose.

The final stop of the day was at the Magic Tree Bookstore in Oak Park, where Frances met with a small group of writers and discussed the long-but-pleasant task of composing Fly by Night. Afterward, Iris and the staff posed with Michael and Frances.

Day’s Most Memorable Questions:
“When you did historical reenactments, did you have to wear those dresses that give you a big butt?”
(Answer: No, wrong period. I wore eighteenth-century dresses, which are more like bells. What you’re asking about are called “bustles” and were quite the rage at one point in the nineteenth century.)
“How tall are you?”
(Michael said something to the effect of “Very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very tall. Which means six-four.”)
“If you were born in England, why are you touring schools here?”
(Answer: Good question, Frances looked at her editor, who was unable to explain much of anything, and then she explained that the book had just been published here.)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Day One (May 9)

The tour is officially launched. Much anxious rehearsal and enormous changes at the last minute. A great many writers-in-training are well met. Frances’s early literary endeavors remembered.

The author and her famous hat, in their preferred pose.

The inaugural appearance was at Gregory Middle School, and despite various technical difficulties (a speaker shrieking with feedback, a polite but insistent bell), the students were not only attentive, but during the Q&A, peppered Frances with many insightful and well-considered questions. One student asked about why it is Frances pays so much attention to Mosca’s eyes in the opening chapters. She explained Mosca’s name (it comes from the Spanish for fly) and said she had deliberately made Mosca’s eyes black—evoking ink, and gunpowder, and darkness, and danger, and things that had been burnt.

“Frances, don’t forget to remove your hat.” “Of course!” “Got it?” “Got it.” “What’s the most important thing?” “To remove my hat.” (NB: Hat remains on head.)

Between school visits, Frances stopped by the utterly swell Anderson's Bookstore to sign several cases of books and to meet Jill and the staff, all of whom are the very best sorts and true friends of books.

A banner adorned with images from the book (and of Frances’s hat!) welcomed her to Kennedy Junior High School.

At Kennedy Junior High School, nearly all of the assembled students were budding writers. Frances discussed one of her earliest stories, written when she was six or so. “Before finding the story, I thought I’d been a very nice little girl. It’s about a page long, and in that page, there’s an attempted poisoning; one character fakes his own death; and the villain dies after being thrown off a cliff by the other characters. So I was writing about death and adventure even then.” Advice about writing was asked for and delivered. “Be stubborn,” was the gist. “There are no overnight successes, not really.”

Beneath a banner advising the daring to “Read What’s Been . . . Banned?” Frances begins to suspect she has come to the right place.

Day's Most Unexpected Questions:
“When you were in the jungle, did you see any monkeys?”
(Answer: Yes, quite a few. A list followed; Michael resisted urges to make monkey noises to the great relief of all.)
“Which volcanoes did you climb?”
(Answer: A list, the most memorable of which was Volcan Pacaya in Guatemala.)
“What’s the first thing you do when you’re planning a novel?”
(First she said, “Make a very large pot of coffee,” but then she answered: Make an outline so that you have a definite idea of where the story is going.)

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Tour

Where you will be able to see the Frances-and-Michael roadshow—the places will visit and when, and Other Such Things of Consequence.

TUESDAY, MAY 09, 2006
8:00 a.m.
Gregory Middle School, 2621 Springdale Circle, Naperville, IL 60565

1:30 p.m.
Kennedy Jr. High, 2929 Green Trails Drive, Lisle, IL 60532

10:00 a.m.
Hubbard Woods School, 1110 Chatfield Road, Winnetka, IL 60093
Sponsored by THE BOOKSTALL

12:15 p.m.
Grace Lutheran, 7300 Division Street, River Forest, IL 60305

7:00 p.m.
Magic Tree Bookstore, 141 N. Oak Park Avenue, Oak Park, IL 60301

THURSDAY, MAY 11, 2006
10:30 a.m.
Ridge Elementary School, 1900 Caton Ridge Drive Plainfield, IL 60586

1:00 p.m.
Joilet Montessori School, 1600 Root ST Crest Hill, IL 60435

FRIDAY, MAY 12, 2006
10:30 a.m.
South View Middle School, 4725 South View Lane, Edina, MN

2:30 p.m.
Carondelet Catholic Academy, 3210 W 51 Street, Minneapolis, MN 55401

SATURDAY, MAY 13, 2006
2:00 p.m.
Edina Community Library, 5280 Grandview Square, Edina, MN 55436

MONDAY, MAY 15, 2006
11:00 a.m.
Castle Rock Middle School, 2575 Meadows Blvd., Castle Rock, CO 80109
Sponsored by BARNES & NOBLE

6:30 p.m.
Barnes & Noble, 8374 S Willow Street, Lone Tree, CO 80124

TUESDAY, MAY 16, 2006
9:00 a.m.
Graystone School, 6982 Sheerwater Drive, San Jose, CA 95120
Sponsored by HICKLEBEES bookstore

11:00 a.m.
Almaden Country School, 6835 Trinidad, San Jose, CA 95120
Sponsored by HICKLEBEES bookstore

1:30 p.m.
Dave's Avenue School, 5200 Dent Avenue, San Jose, CA 95118
Sponsored by HICKLEBEES bookstore

6:00 p.m.
BOOKS INC., 1375 Burlingame Ave Burlingame, CA 94010

THURSDAY, MAY 18, 2006
8:00 a.m.
Moore Square Middle School, 301 South Person Street, Raleigh, NC

11:00 a.m.
Centennial Middle School, 1900 Main Campus Dr Raleigh, NC 27606

1:30 p.m.
Ligon Middle School, 706 E Lenoir Street, Raleigh, NC 27601

FRIDAY, MAY 19, 2006
9:30 a.m.
Dalton Middle School, 108 E 89th Street, New York, NY 10128

2:15 p.m.
Little Red Schoolhouse, 272 Sixth Avenue, New York, NY 10014

SATURDAY, MAY 20, 2006
12:00 p.m.
BOOKS OF WONDER, 18 W 18th Street, New York, NY 10011

SUNDAY, MAY 21, 2006
10:00 a.m.
Book Expo America, Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Place NW, Washington, DC 20001

12:00 p.m.
POLITICS AND PROSE, 5015 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington DC, 20008