The Hard Way
July 18, 2006
Since the Reacher Creatures enjoyed last year’s tour blog so well, Webmaven Maggie wheedled Lee into a blog redux (it was easy, you know he’d do anything for you guys!). The 2006 tour is now, sadly, OVER. Lee toured the US from May 18th—June 7th, fit in a quick trip to Italy, and then toured the UK from July 11th—14th. Now he’s back home working on the next Reacher novel.
UK Day 5|
July 14, 2006
Lincoln has a cathedral—right outside my window, used as a stand-in for Westminster Abbey in the Da Vinci Code movie—and a castle with one of two extant copies of Magna Carta in it. So did I do tourism? No, I rolled over and went back to sleep. The Bradmobile left for Norwich at 11am … early enough for me. We dropped in for a cup of tea with fellow author Andy McNab on the way … signed some stock and did the evening event at the Norwich Ottakers … back to London with Saw 2 on the DVD … tour officially over by 10.30. Almost 2 months on the road, on and off. Thanks to everyone who showed up. I had a blast. Now I’m going to have a rest … just Backspace on July 21, then nothing until I start Reacher #12 some time in September.
Thank you all for making THE HARD WAY such a success.
UK Day 4|
July 13, 2006
Lincoln is in, well, Lincolnshire, which seems to be outside of cyberspace, hence the day-late blog. The day started with four Manchester drop-ins and then a leisurely drive over with the second Pulse disc playing … arrived in Lincoln with time for tourism, but took a nap instead. There’s always tomorrow morning, right? The evening event was at Ottakers and was well attended—Zoë Sharp and husband Andy were there—and lots of fun as always. Dinner afterward at the hotel with Zoë and Andy.
UK Day 3|
July 12, 2006
Pink Floyd, back in the day
Beautiful weather this morning in London … maybe 68 degrees and low humidity (aka not raining.) Did stock signings and a lunch time event in Enfield (North London) then drove north to Manchester in Brad’s gadget-rich Grand Caravan … listened to the new (to me, anyway) Planet Rock digital radio station … excellent, Floyd-heavy playlist (the whole nation is mourning Syd Barrett) … then watched the Floyd DVD “Pulse” as a further tribute on the new (to me, anyway) M6 Toll Road, which bypasses the congestion of my old hood Birmingham. Got to the achingly hip Lowry Hotel in time to check in and then we headed straight out to the Waterstones gig … big SRO audience full of friends … Dot, Bryony, Ali, Andy P, Lindsay, and Jack H. Went out for dinner afterward at the Gaucho Grille. Another great day on the road.
UK Day 2|
July 11, 2006
Today was 60-something degrees and dry, as opposed to yesterday which was 60-something degrees with 100% humidity (aka raining.) Started at Gatwick airport … so nice to not be getting on a plane. Then a quick print interview and the evening event at Foyles, the famous London bookstore. I’m there at last … they always said it would take ten years to become an overnight success. Famous Forumite Dot was there, plus about 80 others. Fun event, even though folks had to pay to get in. Time was, they’d pay to get out. THE HARD WAY will be #2 on Sunday’s list. Works for me.
UK Day 1|
July 10, 2006
Maybe not so much
make-up as this.
Gentle start with a late morning interview with a Norfolk newspaper ahead of Friday’s visit … then signed a few hundred selected firsts of THE HARD WAY for collector sales. Then off to Sky TV for their book show … and every day has something new: Sky is all High Definition now, which means the old sponge-and-Max-Factor makeup doesn’t cut it anymore … they use a spray machine, like painting a car. I’m used to wearing makeup—for TV, guys, not in normal life—but I’ve never been literally airbrushed before. Took ages to get off—had to take a shower. Then dinner at L’Escargot on Greek Street in Soho, with publishers, trade, and journalists. Night cap with my agent … late to bed. But a good time was had by all.
UK Day 0|
July 9, 2006
I had three days off after Italy and then flew to Phoenix for the inaugural ThrillerFest—my twelfth major convention (although it feels like twelve hundred.) This was one of the best—amiable, competent, professional, lots of good company, including our own Rae and Janine … Rae drove us all over Arizona in Louise Ure’s rental, looking for restaurants. I may hire her as my driver … well hey, I lived through it. Then the flight back to London was late, which meant I missed my connection and had to spend the night in town … got back to France a day late. Four more days off, and then the 46th plane of the year back to London ready for the week ahead … should be fun, and I’m hoping to see plenty of Reacher Creatures along the way.
June 21, 2006
Every year I tour the US and the UK and I try to fit in a couple of extra countries, one of which this year was going to be Italy … and then it wasn’t—or so I thought. At the London Book Fair party in March, my Italian publisher said that June availability was no good, because the pub date in Italy was May, when I would be on the road in the US. So I thought, OK, that’s a few days off that I wasn’t expecting. Except that they changed the pub date … imagine my surprise when e-tickets arrived for June 21. So I packed hastily and headed out.
Not a good first few hours: I drove myself to the Nice airport on the A8— where I got a speeding ticket the last time out. This time I paid attention to the posted limits. It’s a toll road, and at the first cash basket I slowed and fished around for my 2 euros 60 and hit the window button … and heard a sound inside the door like a bag of nails being dumped into a zinc bucket. The window glass sank all the way down, never to return. Ah, Peugeots. Who needs them? Had to drive the rest of the way with the window jammed open. That kept my speed down a little. Good, in a way, I guess. But then I had to leave the car in the airport lot with the window open.
Then the flight to Milan was canceled.
Had to fly in via Rome, which compressed the schedule a little. And it was tight to start with. 15 working hours, 20 TV, radio, and print appointments. Plus two dinners with a total of 48 guests.
First (kinda) surprise was I was talking about … WITHOUT FAIL. Italy is 3 books behind, but they went out of order and published THE ENEMY after ECHO BURNING. Which meant the 6th book was out in the 7th slot, after a month talking about the 10th.
The media was very serious—it always is in Europe. I ended up discussing Reacher with reference to Virgil, Ovid, Plutarch, Cicero, Seneca and Dante, with a little Umberto Eco thrown in. I speak a very little Italian, enough to exchange pleasantries, but most of the pressure was on Paolo, my interpreter, a very nice guy who is heading for California to marry an American woman and live in the Bay Area. I told him to watch out for Rae and Cornelia. One interview was over lunch on Thursday, and to let Paolo eat, we did the whole thing in French.
The dinners were fine—Italy truly does have great food.
The book is beautifully packaged and will do well—they’re expecting high top ten, which works for me.
Left again after lunch on Friday, for my 41st plane of the year so far.
The 42nd and 43rd will be Tuesday, Nice-London-Phoenix for Thrillerfest. Looking forward to seeing some of you there.
US Day 18|
June 7, 2006
The final day of the US part of The Hard Way tour … and in itself a perfect microcosm of touring as a whole. The alarm goes off—breakfast arrives—I shave and shower (full 22 minute routine, including brushing my hair)—find last set of clean clothes—room phone rings for Court TV Radio (huh?) interview—slam the phone down ten minutes later and run straight to the car—drive to local CBS affiliate for morning TV—drive to neighboring city of Boulder—sign Borders’ stock—do lunch event at High Crimes—race to airport to try to make flight home … it’s delayed by hours … no reason, no explanation … domestic airlines are going bust? Well, duh! But no big disaster—the Denver airport has a sports bar with smoking. Yankees were rained out, so had to watch some team I’ve heard Deanie mention.
Then … get home at 2.30am and … write the blog. Do I love you guys? Of course I do. And I’m scared of Maggie.
Seriously, a great way to spend three weeks. Highlights? Too many to list. But among them would be seeing so many people—like Deanie and Rae and Janine—who over the years have almost without my noticing become good, close friends. A real reward for me (as well as the money, fame, fast cars, swimming pools, etc) which I treasure. Seeing Maggie in LA was fun. She looked right at home at CBS. And having Cornelia Read around was a real blast. People assume I was doing her a favor, but as I said at every event, I was doing myself a favor. She’s going to be a huge star, and now she’ll be nice to me on her way up and my way down.
So that’s it for now … next up is Italy, and I ain’t blogging from there. The UK maybe, which will start July 11th. Thanks for tuning in. You’ve been a lovely audience.
US Day 17|
June 6, 2006
So, Maggie and I rendezvoused before 6am in the Four Seasons’ lobby … pre-coffee … short sleeps … scary (for her—she looked sweet, if a little wan.) Then to the airport for our respective flights—she back to work in NYC, me onward to Denver. Fairly quiet day (which I needed) and a great event at 7.30 at Tattered Cover. Usual SRO audience, lots of old friends and new converts.
US Day 16|
June 5, 2006
Flew into LAX from NYC Monday morning—early. Hit the ground running. Lee’s flight from San Diego was an hour and a half late so the Hudson News folks met him at the gate, arranged an assembly-line signing of a huge stack of The Hard Ways, and then we rushed out to meet media escort (tour guide, fount of all knowledge, and genuine charmer), Karen Hebert. The late start meant we’d have to reschedule some of the drop-ins for after the nooner at Mysteries to Die For and I was thinking, “Oof, he’s this busy all the time and has to put up with me nagging him to write the blog? What a saint!” At the time, I was running on only 4 1/2 hours of sleep and one paltry cup of coffee, so perhaps you’ll understand why I hadn’t anticipated I’d be writing today’s blog…OOh, you should have Lee’s smug expression when he gave me that news!
Karen drove us over to the Westwood Borders where the amazing Lita Weissman fed us coffee (bless you, Lita) and lemon pound cake. Lee signed three stacks of books that were taller than me (if I stoop a bit; I need three cups of Java to stand up straight) and we ran back to the car hoping traffic would be light enough to get us to Thousand Oaks on time.
Aah, Mysteries to Die For—lovely store, friendly staff, an enviable selection of books, and—what could be better?—Cornelia Read! I was yakking with Cornelia and her media escort, Ken Wilson, when I overhead Paul Levine and Lee discussing the upcoming ITW "The People V. Jack Reacher" trial by jury. THAT should be interesting.
Before we knew it, Karen was whisking us off to The Mystery Bookstore for a stock signing. Lots of vintage paperbacks to peruse while Lee signed books for Linda and Bobby. It was about 3:45pm by then; we were thinking we had a free minute to grab a coupla sandwiches when CBS let us know they needed Lee on the lot 45 mins. sooner. So we jumped back into Karen’s car. For those of you with no experience of LA, let me just explain that it’s a huge, sprawling city. You don’t get from point A to point B in under 30 minutes ever.
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Being on a tv set is old news to Lee, but I’m a LLSwCF junkie so was soaking it all up. We were ushered upstairs by one of the staffers. Every guest gets their own room and the studio is a warren of hallways…you really need a guide to get around. Lee’s room was right across from the green room (lots of food and, best of all, COFFEE!) so we felt a bit more human by the time Craig dropped by to welcome Lee personally. Craig gave Lee a copy of his book, Between the Bridge and the River, inscribed with “Reacher could kick the ass of everybody in this book!” ‘Nuf said, yeah? Did you catch Lee’s appearance? If you missed it, don’t worry—we’ll get it up on the website soon.
Next up was the signing at Vroman’s in Pasadena. Lots of people (notably, Dan M—hi Dan!) and a great big signing space. Almost everyone got a chair. Someone suggested I sit down and that’s when I realized I was truly a New Yorker. With the six hour flight followed by all the driving, I hadn’t walked more than 20 feet in almost 20 hours…antsy doesn’t even cover it! It was a great crowd, good questions, and lots of people brought cameras so we should have some fine shots posted to the Scrapbook soon. Michael Stradford (see photo above) brought along an illustration of Reacher done by his friend Howard Chaykin—Lee says it’s an excellent likeness; don’t you agree?
Did you think the day was done? Au contraire! Dinner with Lee’s film & tv people came next. Before you ask—sorry, no new news on the movie front. Nonetheless it was a lovely dinner with enviable company, the best way to end a busy day. In fact, if the day had only ended then, instead of with getting the news that there’d be a car waiting to take us to the airport at 6am, it would have been perfect.
US Day 15|
June 4, 2006
Civilized ride down to San Diego this morning—iPod and snoozing, followed by lovely SoCal weather and a few drop-ins before the evening event at Warwick’s in La Jolla, Raymond Chandler’s home town for many years. 70+ people, lots of fun. Off to bed momentarily, ready for the LA madness tomorrow—gonna get Maggie to blog tomorrow, because she’s flying out for the day!
US Day 14|
June 3, 2006
No morning events, so I got up at 1pm (!) which was just as well because last night finished with a secret champagne-and-chocolates surprise party, plotted by Rae and Janine, held in Cornelia’s room. Delightful, but not good for an already-exhausted author. But a great way to celebrate this weekend’s bestseller lists—depending on the newspaper, THE HARD WAY is either #2 or #3 nationwide, with the Denver Post bringing it in at #1. Did I mention I love Denver?
Tonight was a 6.30 event at Third Place Books in Seattle—huge crowd—and then dinner with Janine and Rae and Kim afterward. As well as their bookseller and junior-bookseller status, Janine and Rae are big deal real estate executives, and Kim is a pediatric cardiologist. See? Reacher Creatures are nothing if not smart.
US Day 13|
June 2, 2006
The perfect tour day … started out a little iffy, got better, and ended up great.
Got up at the eye-watering time of 4.30am for the flight to Seattle … once there, the lunchtime event at Seattle Mystery Books was as lovely as ever … followed by (drumroll) time off—hanging with our Janine, our Rae, and our Cornelia … beers, conversation, the Ms at SafeCo Field, hot dogs, etc. Fabulous.
US Day 12|
June 1, 2006
A rare luxury—a travel day that did not involve an airport or a plane. Instead, a town car from San Francisco to Sacramento. No extra machine, no shoes on the belt, no belt on the belt… what would we be doing if the shoe bomber had been the underpants bomber?
Sacramento was one phone interview, two drop-ins, and the Sacramento Bee Book Club’s event at the flagship Borders. Gigantic audience—the biggest I’ve had outside of New Zealand or Bulgaria [where the whole population shows up]. Immense signing line. My hand was dropping off and the manager leaned over and whispered, “Only another 30 minutes.” But hey. What’s not to love?
Dinner afterwards with friend and fellow author Robin Burcell and their FBI buddy George Fong. I always like to keep an armed man close by. An excellent day.
US Day 11|
May 31, 2006
Capitola Book Cafe
(Laurie King in blue)
Photo by RC Jerry Kaiser
Late start, but a busy day. Huge breakfast first—eggs, bacon, toast, pancakes, coffee, coffee, coffee … then bought two shirts and dumped two (you thought I made Reacher’s dress code up?) Then two segments to tape for Court TV, a radio show, a drop in at Half Moon Bay … then an hour on the road to Capitola, arriving just in time to grab dinner with local star and friend Laurie King, whose own book is just out—she starts her tour tomorrow and lags me by about a day through most places. Anchovy pizza and Anchor Steam … a fine start to the evening, which was continued in fine style with a great event at the Capitola Book Cafe … great 100+ crowd, and the best intro ever by the store’s events person, Janet—I’m thinking of hiring her for the rest of the tour.
US Day 10|
May 30, 2006
Lee at Stacey's
photo by RC Rae
A dream start for a tour day—nothing before 12 noon. Late breakfast, leisurely walk around the old Port of San Francisco, coffee, sunshine … then into escort Naomi’s car for a lunchtime event at Stacey’s (hi Rae!) and then some more NPR, and stock signings, and then the evening event at Book Passage across the Golden Gate Bridge in Corte Madera. Fabulous weather, fabulous views on the trip over, lovely crowd including lots of fellow writers from the Bay area … Cornelia Read (as a civilian this time), Louise Ure, Tony Broadbent, Tim Maleeny. Champagne and conversation afterward with Cornelia’s friends, who are as crazy as she is. Figures, I guess.
Another late start tomorrow—1.35pm—interrupted only by a phone interview for the radio. I’ll go back to sleep straight afterward.
US Day 9|
May 29, 2006
Woke up late on Friday and settled in for a weekend of serious chilling. Watched some ballgames, had a discreet celebratory dinner with Maggie—in the nastiest diner we could find, in true Reacher style. We felt good but the real party can’t happen until we have a few more diehard Reacher Creatures around—it’s you guys who have built this success. For which I thank you …
Left home again Monday afternoon, heading for San Francisco. I love American Airline’s low-number flights from one coast to the other … fairly aged 767s but nicely configured. I had my favorite seat, back corner of the front cabin, decent food, good tunes on the iPod, a nice nap … arrived and had the evening off, which is always good. Tuesday morning off, too, which is even better.
US Day 8|
May 25, 2006
Who is that big scary
Travel day today … coming home for Memorial Day weekend. No events, just a couple of phone interviews in the afternoon. More cantankerousness on the plane, I’m afraid. It was a regional jet, which wasn’t a great start. Empty seat in front of me. A guy across the aisle moved into it to get away from a baby. Then he hit the button and reclined. Bad idea. It wasn’t even his assigned seat. I pushed his seat upright again from behind. (Did you know you could do that? You don’t need to reach around and hit his button again.) He reclined again. I moved him gently back to the vertical. He turned around. I said I didn’t have enough room to start with, and I didn’t permit reclining. He opened his mouth and then closed it. Kept bolt upright for the rest of the flight. I kneed him in the back a couple of times. Shoulda stayed next to the baby, pal, instead of in front of a psycho.
US Day 7|
May 24, 2006
Planes, trains and automobiles … (if you can count the little shuttle thing between concourses at CVG as a train, which it sorta kinda is, so I guess you can) plus radio, television, and newspapers, and bookstores, bookstores, bookstores … “Just another mad mad day on the road … ” (Extra points if you can tell me what song that line comes from.)
The main event was at Joseph Beth here in Cincy, fun crowd made better by my Ohio buddy Marcia, who brought me chocolate brownies and joined me for a relaxing drink afterward.
And … the second Wednesday after a book’s release is a tense one: The New York Times day, when the bestseller list for the book’s first sale week is released, to be published in the paper 10 days hence. Way back I would make it on to what’s called the “extended” list, i.e. places 16 and worse, where a book has measurable sales but isn’t burning the place down. Best position crept upward through the twenties, and WITHOUT FAIL made it to #17, then PERSUADER made it to the dreaded #15 equal, which actually hits what’s called the “printed” list, i.e. it appears in the Sunday paper, with the curiously stilted little synopsis that someone—don’t know who—comes up with. THE ENEMY crept up to #11, if I recall correctly … ONE SHOT peaked at #10.
So, where was THE HARD WAY going to hit?
At first, I was rooting for #9. Maggie—loyal as ever—said, nah, #8, easy. Then first-day sales looked good, and I started daydreaming about #7. Maggie mentioned #5.
We were both wrong.
The list will appear in the June 4 paper. I’m going to buy a copy. Maybe two copies.
US Day 6|
May 23, 2006
Kathleen Kuhlman, Lee,
I’ve been to Birmingham, Alabama, and I was raised in Birmingham, England, but this was the first time I’ve been to Birmingham, Michigan. The familiar name helped me feel right at home.
Staying in a hotel with the Miami Heat basketball team, so I feel tiny for once.
The event was excellent: I should have seen it coming, but of course I didn’t—Tina and Teri and Phyllis were there … double take … plus about 75 other nice people for another SRO crowd. Being a writer is fun. I wish I had started 20 years ago, not 10.
US Day 5|
May 22, 2006
The early start (over which a veil will be drawn to protect readers of a nervous disposition, and children) was in order to make the morning TV show in Memphis, TN. I love affiliate morning TV—relaxed, fun, fairly open-ended. This morning’s was no exception. Then we had a huge mid-South breakfast and headed to the local NPR FM station for some more airtime. Then some stock signing—although it’s getting hard to find much stock of THE HARD WAY—sales are way up this year. Very encouraging!
So, relaxed for an hour at the hotel prior to the Davis Kidd signing, which was as good as always …. 75+ people, good questions. Signing and dating books reminded me that it’s my father’s birthday today … fortunately I had remembered and left him a message from Houston this morning, which feels like yesterday to me now.
Incredibly luxurious start at 6.30 tomorrow, so I guess I’ll watch ESPN for a spell and then head out to Beale Street for some barbecue. Every city around here claims the best, and I’m happy to adjudicate.
US Day 4|
May 21, 2006
Later start today … by 15 precious minutes (will make up for it tomorrow when the car LEAVES THE HOTEL at 4.30am.) Pleasant flight to Houston … although I didn’t take to my seatmate. He asked to get by to use the bathroom, and I said, “No, wait until you get off the plane.” It just slipped out. Early starts. Don’t like ‘em.
Houston was mainly about the joint event at Murder By The Book, with Cornelia again. Deanie was there, plus husband Ken, plus some of Cornelia’s buds, plus writer Terri Molina, plus maybe 120 others—biggest crowd they ever had. Lovely people, great event. Then BBQ afterward, Lone Star beer, conversation, the Yankees on ESPN when I got back to the hotel.
I’ll be going to bed early, ready for tomorrow. Might be better if they sat me on my own.
US Day 3|
May 20, 2006
Jim, Cornelia of the golden
hair & Lee at Poisoned Pen
Two ways to look at this: either I got up in the middle of the night for the flight to Phoenix, or I slept a solid eight hours interrupted only by getting on a plane. But I arrived in the heat (dry heat, though) and made it to Costco for the first price club signing I ever did—sold 42 books in an hour, which seemed pretty good.
Then on to the Poisoned Pen for the 2pm event with Cornelia. Contrary to prior pleadings she was poised, charming, witty and completely stole the show. She didn’t throw up even once. We made a pretty good double act and had a lot of fun. SRO audience of maybe 110 people. We both signed plenty of books. Looking forward to doing the same again tomorrow in Texas. Now I’m going to eat and go back to sleep.
US Day 2|
May 19, 2006
Lee & Michael Artsis of
Mo Leibowitz Cartier-Bresson
The Yankees playing the Mets at Shea, first pitch 7.10pm, live on Channel 11. You don’t even need cable for that. The Da Vinci Code’s opening night at the movies. Intermittent thunderstorms on the horizon. Not a great night for attracting a big NYC audience, I thought.
I needn’t have worried.
The forumites turned out in force. The regulars—from far and wide, Michigan, Jersey, Albany, DC, California—plus new friends Mo and Greg from here in town. Plus plenty of other readers and fans. My daughter Ruth came again. Plus passersby, wandering in off the street. SRO again, about 110 people, very gratifying indeed. And we had fun … lively crowd, good questions. And a quiet (ha!) drink afterward. It all feels really good this year. THE HARD WAY is still selling well. People continue to amaze me with their enthusiasm and generosity and goodwill and support.
Now, I hit the road for real. Up at 4.30 tomorrow for the flight to Arizona. I’m looking forward to the first joint event with Cornelia Read. Gonna be fun.
US Day 1|
May 18, 2006
I guess THE HARD WAY launch season really started way back in February—I’ve had strategy sessions and meet-and-greets in Amsterdam, London, New York, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, plus a couple of dozen pre-launch print and radio interviews stretching back quite a time. But tonight I hit the road for real, for the first US event, in Bryn Mawr, PA, at the Barnes & Noble on Lancaster Ave. My daughter Ruth hitched a ride in the limo and will spend the night with a couple of friends in Philly—and will be back in town for the NYC event tomorrow … nothing like family for loyalty! The event itself was SRO and I saw a bunch of old friends as well as plenty of new faces. Winners so far in the crazy-distance stakes were a couple of ladies who drove down from Massachusetts. I have a feeling their place atop the podium will be surpassed tomorrow, though. THE HARD WAY seems to have opened very strong (as they say in the movie biz) … first day sales were great, and the second day held up very well. Hopes are high.
Tomorrow is the “official” launch in New York—with partying afterward —and then I pack my bag and fly south and west. Can’t wait.