Archive for the ‘Book tours’ Category

The Days Run Away

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

One of my favorite lines of poetry comes from Charles Bukowski, the great California poet, novelist, and postal worker:  “And the days run away like wild horses over the hills…”   I watch them go now, the days, in exactly the way Bukowski said, and every year they seem to vanish faster than before.  What they leave behind is a cloud of dust and memory.

The Bookshelf, WinonaAs the dust settles this year, and I consider the memories, I’m a little overwhelmed.  It’s been a momentous twelve months.  Between early March and late August, I published two books, something I’ve never done before.  I toured for both these novels, visiting old friends in bookstores across the country, and making lots of new ones.  In fact, I signed at eighty stores, mostly independents.  I love these booksellers who, in this market so dominated by the online giant Amazon and by big chains, are like scrappy kids battling bullies in the schoolyard.  In truth, I owe independents a great debt.  During the kerfuffle that went on between my own publisher, Simon and Schuster, and Barnes and Noble, when my books—and those of so many S&S authors—were ignored by the big chain, it was the independent booksellers whose dedicated hand-selling helped both Ordinary Grace and Tamarack County hit the New York Times bestseller list.  To all of you who own the small brick and mortar stores out there, God bless you!

William Kent Krueger visits the Duluth Public LibraryI also visited more libraries than ever before, thirty-five altogether, all across the Midwest and the Rockies.  Oh, do I love library events!  Those in small towns are especially memorable, because often they’re accompanied by a potluck dinner.  There’s nothing that makes a Minnesota author feel more welcome than a potluck meal.

I attended several mystery conferences and book festivals, traveled a spider web of gorgeous back roads, battled through blizzards and driving rain, rose again and again in the bleak predawn hours to catch early flights, and although all this travel was exhausting, I have to say I pretty much loved every minute of it.  I adore book events, the opportunity to talk to readers and answer their questions and hear their own stories.  So many of these stories are better than any I could ever imagine on my own.

So, when I look back, I see a year that seems to have fled quickly over the hill but has left me with a profound sense of fulfillment and gratitude.  It’s also filled me with that fire I so need, which is an anticipation of things yet to come.  There’s much to do 2014.  I’ll complete the manuscript for the next Cork O’Connor novel, titled Windigo Island, which is scheduled for release in August.  I’ll also plunge back into the writing of a companion novel to Ordinary Grace, a book I’m calling This Tender Land. 

I will, of course, continue to travel.  If you and I haven’t met yet, maybe 2014 is the year our paths will cross.  I’d like that.

A few 2013 highlights:

William Kent Krueger in Cabo
February: Just kickin’ back in Cabo. A week of R&R before Ordinary Grace is released.

Love is Murder
I had a ball at Chicago’s annual Love Is Murder conference. A stellar lineup of fellow genre authors (including Lee Goldberg and Libby Fischer Hellmann, pictured above) and a host of welcoming fans, always a hallmark of this lovely, intimate Con.

William Kent Krueger in Sedona
March: When God made the earth, he created two Edens. One is called Minnesota. The other is the Red Rocks area of Sedona, Arizona.

William Kent Krueger in New Orleans
April: Me, in the Big Easy with a few jazz greats. I play the harmonica–badly. We–my lovely wife Diane and I–had a great time in Nawlins and a terrific welcome from the folks at Garden District Books. 

Snow in May
May: Here I am beside my car in the parking lot of my hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, on what was supposed be my beautiful spring book tour. What the…? Six inches overnight.

Winona, MN
Just a couple of days after driving through snowflakes, the temperature hit ninety. Here I am with two of the loveliest things on earth: My wife Diane, and, in the background, the maze of islands on the Mississippi River near Winona, Minnesota.

Grand Tetons
July: With my family, I spent a week in the Teton Mountains of Wyoming in a cabin with no Internet access, cell phone service, or television. It was heaven!

Palmer House Hotel in Sauk Centre, Minnesota
August: My wife and I spent a night in the famously haunted Palmer House Hotel in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. We had a marvelously spooky stay. The creepy goings-on were capped when a water glass that had been left on the abandoned dinner table next to ours flew off the table and slammed to the floor with a force as if someone had angrily throw it there. It shattered into a hundred pieces. No human being was within ten feet of that glass. We looked with astonishment to the bartender, who simply shrugged and said, “Happens all the time.” 

William Kent Krueger and Margaret Coel
I did a signing at Barbara Peters’ wonderful store The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale with the always lovely Margaret Coel.

Gothenburg, Nebraska Pony Express
September: In Gothenburg, Nebraska, my wife’s place of birth. It was an important stop on the Pony Express route, and they’ve preserved the old log structure that serviced those intrepid riders.

halloween
October: Decorating for my favorite yearly celebration: Halloween! That’s me under the skull. (My wife has always been afraid success as a writer would give me a big head.)

Bouchercon 2013
Here I am at Bouchercon (Albany, NY) with friend and fellow Minnesota crime author Julie Kramer and my stellar publicist from Atria Books, David Brown.

William Kent Krueger visits the library in Detroit Lakes, MN
November: I spoke at the centennial celebration of the opening of the first library in Detroit Lakes, MN: a Carnegie, now a National Historic Landmark building. For the celebration, they commissioned a cake constructed as a perfect replica of that original library. The most awesome baked good I have ever laid eyes on!

The End of the Road

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

It’s 12:20 AM Friday morning.  I’ve just said goodbye to my bus mates—no, to my friends.  It’s a sad occasion.  Not like death or even like seeing a child off to college, but there is a weight on me, nonetheless, a stone of sadness.  I find it odd that in so short a time, only eight days, I’ve come to enjoy, to care about, and, okay, even to love these people.

Time is a strange commodity.  In the middle of an experience, the minutes can stretch out in long, silly putty increments.  The ride between Albany and Buffalo, for example, when we were all exhausted and the bus rolled on and on as if we were part of a Twilight Zone episode in which, in the end, we discover that we’re really in hell and doomed to ride the damned bus forever.  But sitting here at the desk in my hotel room, with the talk and the laughter and the intimate connection between us so apparent in our last meal together, the eight days seem to have sped by, a breath or two and done.

I don’t know how Atria Books will judge the success of the Great Mystery Bus Tour.  I hope that whatever gauge they use, the enterprise rises to the hoped-for mark.  In terms of those of us in the trenches—the authors, our “handlers” (the great folks from Atria publicity who facilitated everything), and our phenomenal bus guys—the week was nothing short of stellar.  We loved the whole idea, we enjoyed the events immensely, and we were given the gift of each other.

Today, we go our separate ways.  That’s life.  And I remember the advice my wife often offers me: “Don’t cry because it’s over.  Be happy that it ever was.”

From the road, this is my final dispatch.

The Atria Gang!

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Here’s a photo of me with my busmates, taken at Once Upon A Crime, the fine mystery bookstore in Minneapolis.  I haven’t blogged about them yet, which is a terrible oversight, because they’re a grand group.

I’ll start with Liza Marklund. Before we launched, Liza (it’s pronounced Leesa) was the author I was most uncertain about.  Statuesque, lovely, colossally successful in Sweden and Europe, several of her books already in film, she seemed to me the author most likely to be a prima donna.  Thank God nothing could be farther from the truth.  What a great and gracious woman.  Not only is she a talented writer, she’s down to earth and very funny.  She’s not well known in this country yet (but that will change) and so at our events, she doesn’t have the hundreds of adoring readers crowding into the bookstore that she would draw were our signings in Europe.  I asked her how she felt about that, and her reply was that it troubled her not at all, that she’s building a following here, and that all good things take time.  Lovely and wise, what a killer combination.

I expected to be intimidated by M.J. Rose.  For those of you not in the book business, the skinny on M.J. is that she’s a whiz at marketing books.  She owns her own company, AuthorBuzz, which does just that.  Before embarking on the tour, I read her most recent novel, The Book of Lost Fragrances, and loved it.  The research is awesome.  The storyline is compelling.  The writing is silk smooth.  I thought to myself, Here’s one very smart woman who’s going to make me feel like a dumb donkey.  M.J. is smart.  M.J. is savvy.  And M.J. is delightful.  She has a marvelous sense of humor, and if you’re not following her blog or her tweets, you’re missing out on some fall-on-the-floor-laughing commentary.

Okay, John Connolly.  John’s the only one of the authors I knew in advance, but I didn’t know him well.  I know him better now, and fully fleshed out, this guy is the kind of author we all aspire to be.  Please don’t tell him I said that!  In my estimation, he stands beside James Lee Burke as one of the finest prose writers in our genre.  He also a keen sense of both the art and the business of books, and when he defends the brick and mortar bookstore, he’s articulate and even a little scary in his passion.  (The other night while he was ranting eloquently, I saw a blood vessel throbbing in his temple like one of those creatures from Aliens ready to burst through his skin!)  And did I say funny?  The man’s a walking comedy club.

So, humor is clearly a big part of what makes this tour so delightful.  We don’t any of us take ourselves too seriously, and all of us are more than willing to be nakedly human.  Okay, maybe “nakedly” was the wrong word.  I really don’t want you—or my wife—to get the wrong idea about what happens on the Mystery Bus.

That’s all for now.  More down the road.

The Great Bathroom Rebellion!

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

It all began with toilet paper.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that the Great Mystery Bus Tour’s first crisis was a dearth of toilet paper.  Yesterday the crisis escalated to rebellion.  We learned that we were using the bus toilet incorrectly.  (Probably the reason we ran out of toilet paper.)  Apparently, of the options available to human beings for the body’s elimination of waste, only one is allowed on the bus.  I mean number one.  And no toilet paper is allowed to be flushed down with any elimination.  Who knew?

The result is a situation with the waste pipe in our mammoth vehicle that, in human beings, would require a good deal of Ex-Lax.  And as I understand it, in order to remedy the situation, our driver has to do to our drain pipe what James Herriot, the young vet in All Creatures Great and Small (if you remember the book or the fine BBC production made from it), was forced to do to clear the bowels of a plugged cow.  Believe me, whatever they’re paying our driver, it ain’t enough.

At any rate, we’ve learned our lesson, and now when one of us hears nature’s delicate call, we simply indicate that we “need to make an important phone call,” and the driver will find the nearest clean “phone” along the highway.

Two events yesterday: the first at Centuries and Sleuths, a lovely mystery bookstore in Forest Park, IL; the second in Milwaukee, WI, at the very intimate Mystery One.  Milwaukee has lovely real estate, especially on the shoreline of Lake Michigan.  Here’s a photo of me in front of an impressive water tower near the shore.

Events today in two of my favorite stores—Booked For Murder in Madison, WI, and Once Upon A Crime (my hometown store) in Minneapolis.

That’s all for now and here’s hoping I don’t have to make any “important phone calls” along the way.

Crises on the Road!!!!

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

It had been such smoothing sailing on the Great Mystery Bus Tour, with all things going swimmingly.  Then disaster struck.  We ran out of toilet paper for our little bus bathroom!  This was in the deep, dark hours late at night.  We stopped at a convenience store to replenish the supply.  Gadzooks—they didn’t sell toilet paper!  But resourceful authors that we are, we realized that we have lots of our books on board, so we drew straws to see whose was the first to sacrifice pages.  I’ve been sworn to secrecy on the outcome of that particular lottery.

Second crisis: We are currently headed toward a long line of severe weather.  Books and Co. in Dayton, OH, is our next event stop.  South and west of Dayton is a turbulent storm front that is producing tornadoes at an alarming rate.  Five people have been killed already.  North and west of Dayton is another front with violent storms along the leading edge.  We have a very small chance that we might be able to slip through the narrow clear area between these two storm systems, but it will be akin to threading the eye of a needle.

So, stay tuned.  Who knows?  This could be my last dispatch from the road.