The Atria Gang!

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.

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