BEA, the 2012 version

This time Book Expo America was the first book world thing that I’d done before. Last year’s was Baby’s First Book Event, so this year was deja vu all over again. (BEA 2011 was recapped epically here & here. This post will not be as epic.)

The weather yet again toyed with me but I managed better this year. Last year as I was packing it was freezing in Massachusetts so I packed boots and things with sleeves and then in NYC it was roasting hot and humid. This year I kept looking at the ever changing weather and even though I waited until the last possible minute the weather report was still daunting, 60s & rainy predicted for pretty much the whole week. I packed sandals and things without sleeves and layers anyway, and I think in retrospect I succeeded admirably.

I did need my one dress with sleeves for the Knopf Doubleday party, which was lovely and I got to see lots of lovely booksellers (including ones I’d met before, which was something akin to having familiar books on shelves only with more hugging) and I got to meet Ian McEwan and Chris Bohjalian and Deb Perelman of smitten kitchen. (People kept explaining to me who Deb was and I kept telling them that I already knew & I’m delighted that I got an advance copy of her cookbook. The party food was all from her book and oh, so delicious.)

It was a busier night than I’d expected and when squished in the middle of the crowd I momentarily regretted the dress with sleeves decision but overall it was splendid if slightly surreal, since it was held at the same venue as last year when I was overwhelmed and scared and still trying to wrap my head around the fact that people were reading my book already. I had feathers in my hair and they managed to stay there through the entire evening.


The next day was my proper busy BEA day and I got to wander the Javits a bit before my signing, just to soak in the bookishness. My dress was very pale pink, to mess with the circus color scheme system.

Minutes before my signing I found out that Ray Bradbury had passed away. And while I was still mid-sad face I was asked for a response by USA Today which is how I ended up sad-face babbling about Something Wicked This Way Comes and quoted in their article. I never met him, but I’ll miss him. He lived on my bookshelf. He still does.

I truly wasn’t expecting my signing to be that busy, being last year’s news and all, but to my surprise there was a huge line. I was signing freshly baked paperbacks:

A gigantic thank you to everyone who stood and waited. Last year was a bit overwhelming and of course most people hadn’t yet read the book, so it was wonderful to re-experience that with more signing experience (if anyone has a 2011 & 2012 version to compare you will likely notice that my signature has lost several letters and become more glyph-like, though I am still crossing the t) and with more people having read the book. Someone did ask me what it was about and I think I looked at them funny. Sorry.

After my Random House booth signing I went and signed things at the Librarian’s Lounge which was apparently a corral for librarians in which librarians were given cookies and allowed to sit, which seems like a good deal in the middle of the Javits. We ran out of books which I felt badly about but it was lovely to meet so many librarians and be allowed in the librarian-only lounge, I felt special.

Then I went and had sushi with my editor and thought about going back to the Javits afterwards but then taking off my shoes was more appealing.

This is my fairly modest book haul. I had some help with it since I was busy and trying to focus in the sensory overload wonderland that is the Javits Center during BEA is not my strong suit.

I’ve read (and adored, as you’ll be able to tell from the quote on the cover) The Vanishing Act by Mette Jakobsen which is a debut novel that comes out in September. The rest will be added to the ever-growing to-read pile but hopefully I’ll have some time over the summer to curl up and do nothing but read.

Let’s see, what else did I do during the whirlwind that was BEA?

I had drinks with my US editor and my Canadian editor at the same time. I’ve never even seen them in the same country before so that was all looking-glass magical.

I wanted to get back over to the Javits again just to wander more but I never had time, unfortunately. There were many people I wanted to say hello to and never got the chance.

I went to see Sleep No More for the 10th time. The nurse whisked me away and locked me in a room and wrapped me in a blanket and I promised not to tell what happened after that. It was just as wondrous and dreamlike as always. I keep saying I don’t have to go back but then I always find myself back at the McKittrick Hotel again.

Also, I broke my eyeglasses. Not sure how I managed that but they’re missing a screw so I need to get them fixed. In the meantime I have my old ones with the only slightly out of date prescription and my contacts.

So, that was my week. It seemed longer and busier but there were also meetings and drinks and dinners (Alta has the best tapas and also really strong sangria) and the sun did stay out most of the time. It was strange and lovely and felt circular in a lot of ways, having a whole year of this being an author thing. Still don’t really have the hang of it but I think I’m getting better.

Until next time, BEA.

miscellaneous non-BEA nyc things.

Other things I did in NYC that did not involve official BEA responsibilities:

I ate a lot of really good food. A lot. My favorite might have been this tiny little South African Wine Bar that my wonderful NYC-dwelling sister put on a list of recommendations for me. I love food on small plates, it enables so much more tasting of things. Also went to David Burke Townhouse which was marvelous and I only wish I’d been able to eat more, because those plates were not so small. The pretzel-crusted crab cake is swoon-worthy. Also there was sushi and cookies and lots of coffee. And chocolate mice, of course. (True confession: had my very first chocolate mouse on this trip. Never actually had one before. Now I have and it was delightful.)

Visited the New York Public Library, I had walked by many times and said hello to the lions but I hadn’t been inside. They have a fabulous centennial display with all manner of writerly wonderments, e.e. cummings’ typewriter and Virginia Woolf’s walking stick. Also, Lego versions of the lions:

There’s very beautiful art tucked in hallways, too, it was like getting to do a bit of museuming which I have sadly lacked in my last few trips to NYC.

Went to Sleep No More. Again. For the record, that’s 4 times for the Brookline run and 3 in NYC. And really, if this was my last time I’m okay with that, it was dark and familiar and new and strange and it’s not just every night that a man in a tuxedo locks you in a room and sits you in a chair and kneels down and lays a sword across your lap and then reads you bible verses. This was also the first time I was ever escorted from the space after the end, gently guided back to the bar to have my mask removed for me. It was a wonderful last moment in case I don’t go back for an eighth visit. Though you never know.

Also, this is what happens when you try to take a photo of a lapin in your hotel window at night, it turns all Times Square Apocalypse on your poor bunny:

It was a fun view at night, though, all glimmery and never still. I really had a marvelous week, surreal and wonder-filled. And then there were zombies at South Station when my train home got in and I had to wheel my suitcase around pools of hopefully fake blood. It likely says something about me or my week that I did not find that surprising or strange.

And now I’ve been back in Massachusetts for a while and I’m slowly getting caught up with everything. I’m moving to Boston in July so that is taking a lot of time and energy, my apologies if blog posts and email responses and such fall a bit lower on the priority list, I am trying my best to keep up, thank you for your patience.

this is a proper post-BEA post. (part II)

Part II of the post-BEA musings. (Part I is here if you missed it.)

Wednesday! My first scheduled event was the second of my two interviews, this one held at the Standard Hotel. Diane Keaton walked into the lobby right behind us. She wasn’t wearing shoes. Also, the Standard Hotel has spectacular elevators with video art on the walls.

Having had a rather straightforward audio interview the previous day, I was not quite ready for the setup that awaited me upstairs in the suite that had been converted to author-interviewing space, but that was probably good because if I’d known it was coming I would have had more time to make myself nervous. I half-expected a couple of chairs and a webcam, only in a classy sort of way. This was fancy lights and multiple cameras and a whole crew of very nice people and I had to creatively run a microphone down my dress (that was a first) and a makeup lady would swoop in to powder my face when I was apparently getting too shiny under the fancy lights. I remember very little of what I said but apparently I sounded coherent, I was asked excellent questions so that made it easier. There was a lot of stopping for technical things or because there were sirens outside or whatnot. It was very fancy. They even had a clapboard for the cameras on an iPad, I cannot even say how much that delighted me. Really, it was a surreal sort of experience but everyone involved was absolutely lovely.

After that I was whisked back to the Javits for my signing.

I was around the Random House booth for a bit before it started, meeting people and chatting with other people that I’d met the day before, and then people started coming up to tell me about the line. There were hand gestures and waving and use of walls to describe just how far it went and I truly thought people were exaggerating. And then came the tales of how they were having to turn people away because they didn’t have enough galleys.

My future brother-in-law happened to be at the Javits for a different event and he managed to get into BEA and took some footage of the line, I don’t think I really believed it until I saw it.

I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who stood in that line. I am sorry that I was somewhat delirious by the time I got about midway through and I know my handwriting was rather atrocious by the end, not that my handwriting isn’t always rather atrocious. I was scheduled to sign for half an hour and I know it went long but I’d lost all concept of time. I’m told it went over an hour.

This is me post-signing (I had to take my jacket off, no one warned me signing was such an athletic activity,) with my incredible editor, Alison Callahan, and my amazing agent, Richard Pine. They are both just as delightful as they appear. Also included in this photo is a Sharpie that is very nearly out of ink.

A lot of people commented on my necklace, it was made for me by my absurdly talented dearest darling Clovia Shaw. Her Etsy store is over here. She does custom work. I’m just sayin’.

After the wonderment that was Baby’s First Book Signing, we of course ran into Margaret Atwood again, because it was like a theme. That’s the encounter that there are pictures of. There are a bunch of pictures from the signing & post-signing over here on facebook.

Then I had meetings and drinks and then I was done with all my official proper author responsibilities. I stayed in NYC for a few days afterwards, more on that in a future post. (Yes, I went to see Sleep No More again, for the seventh time.)

I am eternally grateful to everyone at Doubleday, they are truly wonderful people who made what could easily have been an overwhelming couple of days a fabulous and enjoyable experience. They’re all really cute, too.

I didn’t manage to accumulate many books, I didn’t have much time to hunt and my to-read shelf is overflowing anyway so I felt guilty adding to it, but this is the pile of things that managed to make their way home with me:

So I have lots to read, when I find the time. I’m still not sure how I managed to be back from NYC for more than a week already. More miscellaneous NYC stuff forthcoming, though unfortunately I did not take nearly enough photos.

this is a proper post-BEA post. (part I)

Okay, it’s all starting to feel like a dream but here we go, not sure if I’m going to break this into multiple parts or not just yet. (Yeah, parts. This can be part I.)

Monday! I left for NYC. I took a train from freezing rainy Boston to rather warm Manhattan without too much trouble. Here’s a lapin on the train:

While I was settling in at my hotel, my editor was presenting THE NIGHT CIRCUS on the Editors Buzz Panel. I know she was fantastic even though I wasn’t there because you can watch it over here. You probably won’t blush as much as I did while watching it, either.

Monday night there were remarkably sedate alarms going off in my hotel at 1am, followed by mysterious announcements about investigations, and then declarations that the alarms were in fact, false. That was interesting. I’m just glad I was still awake.

I hardly forgot anything, packing-wise, except for a pen. Which made me feel like a sorry excuse for a writer, but how often do you really need a pen? However, I am never forgetting pens again, I might even invest in one of those sassy pen necklaces. I borrowed a pen (well, stole a pen because I still have it) which was wise because I had to speak to breakfasting librarians first thing Tuesday morning, and while I had very nice notes typed up on my laptop I didn’t want to drag it there, so I scrawled barely legible notes with my stolen pen on tiny sheets of hotel stationary (the hotel pen didn’t work, of course). This is the point of the story where I would normally say “I need an iPad” but I have one! I just wasn’t clever enough to pack it for this purpose. Now I know.

Breakfasting librarians appeared to like me though I was terribly nervous. The other authors were marvelous, I’m sad I didn’t actually get to meet any of them, particularly Craig Thompson so I could tell him how much I love the lines of his artwork, and I do wish I’d thought to grab an ARC of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One but it was 8am and also Baby’s First Book Event so I wasn’t really on the ball with my galley-grabbing.

And then it was hot out and my hair was going all curly, so I changed into something a little more weather appropriate while cursing the fact that I had been *this* close to packing my sandals but I decided not to. This is what happens when you’re freezing while you’re packing and then all of a sudden it’s incredibly humid at your destination. So if you’ve seen any photos of me all curly-haired in my Trashy Diva dress, that was unplanned but it seemed to work. Truly, my one BEA regret is that I did not pack sandals.

In the afternoon I actually got to see the wonderment that is BEA proper at the Javits center, which was a lot of space filled with a lot of books and several sections of surprisingly squishy carpet. Doubleday had marvelously tuxedoed, red-scarfed reveurs handing out cards promoting my signing on Wednesday and they were delightful.

I had an audio interview which was pretty good considering it was only my second interview ever, and afterward I discovered that when you walk around BEA with your publicist who is also Margaret Atwood’s publicist you actually end up talking to Margaret Atwood and her fabulous agent and then you try not to faint because it’s Margaret Atwood and you want to tell her how you learned everything you know about rhythm from the Modern Women Writers class you took in college where your professor had you read the opening pages of Alias Grace aloud around the room one sentence at a time but you can’t because it’s MARGARET ATWOOD and she is HOLDING YOUR HAND and you are busy trying not to faint.

There are pictures of me with Margaret Atwood over here (along with a bunch of shots from my signing, more on that later) and that is actually my second encounter, because, you know, shared publicist and I still managed not to pass out but I was not particularly articulate.

After that there was the Knopf Doubleday cocktail party, at which there were lots and lots of lovely booksellers to meet and my Doubleday team was impressively adept at maneuvering me around the crowd and facilitating introductions.  At one point I remember standing outside talking to people (including Joan Didion) about how my circus has no clowns because no one likes clowns and my dress got all floaty Marilyn Monroe style in the breeze. I’m not sure any other moment topped that for pure surreality.

Post-party I went to dinner with my wonderful editor, which was the perfect way to wind down after a long and somewhat crazy day, complete with blackberry souffle.

And now this post is rather long and rambling, so I will post the Wednesday recap separately.

this is not a proper post-BEA post.

I am back after a whirlwind week in NYC.

To say it was amazing would not do it justice. It was phenomenal on several levels. My one regret is that I did not pack sandals, because it was hot. (In my defense, it was freezing and rainy here when I was packing. Also, I seem to have returned to summer, complete with flopsy kittens.)

I am in recovery mode, trying to catch up on things and sleep a great deal. So there is a proper BEA report forthcoming but it will take a couple of days.

For now, here is a photo of a scarf-clad lapin overlooking Times Square from my hotel room:


this is a pre-BEA post.

First, the very basic facts:


Yes, I am going to be at Book Expo America next week.

I will be signing ARCs of THE NIGHT CIRCUS at 3pm on Wednesday the 25th at Random House booth #4420.


Now you know, and I will return to normal, not-bolded font.

I will be in NYC all week, at BEA on both Tuesday & Wednesday. I have various intimidating things on my schedule like video interviews and cocktail parties and I am trying not to get too terribly nervous about them. If I think too hard about all this, my head starts to hurt, so I am kind of coasting on nervous/excited and attempting to be zen.

I was going to take pictures of kittens in suitcases to go with this post, but I haven’t actually gotten around to properly packing yet. There may be bonus kittens in suitcases over the weekend.