November 8, 2008

The signing, continued


I doubt I’m going to get through all the comments that need comments (ahem!) but I’ll make a start.  The following is merely in the order they came in. 

            I imagine anyone interested in the signing is reading the comments, but just in case you missed it, silveronthetree posted this link to the blog of one of the people who work at Murder One, who describes last night’s melee:

I am interested that she says it was more like 30 people than 20 because I couldn’t see round the corner.  That’s very good for a bookshop signing–well, for me doing a bookshop signing–and flipping well unprecedented in the UK.  BIG YAAY FOR BLOG PEOPLETHANK YOU.  THANK YOU VERY MUCH.  I can’t begin to tell you how much I hate it, and how much I want to crawl away and die horribly somewhere cold and lonely and awful, when I do the Author Appearance gig somewhere and nobody comes.  It’s just you, the manager, and, if you’re lucky, the manager’s dog.*  The worst.

 Vikkik says:

I’m sure I’m not the only one whimpering at the thought that we COULD have had a preview of Pegasus!  

I was, of course, being a provocative cow in my entry last night, but recollect what a few of you have also mentioned–it’s a bit of a mixed blessing to hear a few pages of something you’re not going to see the rest of for years.  Except of course for a few pages I’ll doubtless post on the blog some time when I’m feeling even more bovine than usual.

And how about little leather biker jackets for the hellhounds? 

You find the leather worker who can do it, and we’ll talk.

*whispers* – so when will the next one be? *ducks*

You’ve got it all wrong, kiddo.  I want to sell books.  I want to be OUT THERE as a writer.  Why am I keeping this astonishingly time-consuming blog?  As I say at probably too-regular intervals, I couldn’t/wouldn’t do it if all you guys weren’t such a hoot, but the initial impulse, and the reason I let it eat so much of my time, is that it’s a Marketing Tool. 

You find the venue and organize the books and the audience, and supposing it’s within a couple of hours of home, I’ll come.  Beyond that you get into tricky territory about paying me for my time–not to mention the as yet unsolved hellhound question–and I cost a fortune if you want me to give a speech:  I hate writing speeches–but for something like the gig last night, you set it up, I’ll come. 

            The problem isn’t that I wouldn’t do it, the problem is that I’m not Jacqueline Wilson or JK Rowling, and don’t pull the crowds, and therefore nobody (very justifiably) wants to go to the trouble of creating a . . . damp squib.  Last night was a spectacular success in the annals of my bookstore appearances. 

SoItGoes says:

I groaned just reading the Damar question. Maybe it was a blog person asking just to be perverse. 

Snork.  Well, it was the shop owner/manager–but a blog person might have put her up to it--on the excellent grounds I wasn’t going to do bodily harm to the nice person who had made the occasion possible.  And that it might be fun to watch me turn purple and claw at my own throat.

            It is also true that I have been known to cut people slack on alternate Tuesdays when the moon is full and I’m in a good mood.  You just don’t want to count on it. 

Skating librarian says: 

I’m so grateful that this blog lets us interact with the “real ” you. 

No it does not!  Don’t fall into that error!  Reread what I wrote last night:  The problem with Author Appearances is that I go into Full Public Mode and the me that all of you know, and who has some resemblance to my concept of real life. . . .  Maybe that doesn’t come over the way I meant it–I write the blog too fast because I have to, and errors are going to occur.  But the me writing this and the me I write are two different characters.  The blog has been and continues to be an extremely interesting learning curve in what I am either able or willing to put out there and what . . . stays chained up in the back garden.**  Friends who also read the blog find they have a fairly schizophrenic time of it. 

I always had a feeling that hiding somewhere behind the cranky author exterior there was a funny, passionate, human bean because that seemed the only explanation for the wonderful books you’ve given us.

The cranky is just as legitimate and genuine as the funny and passionate. 

Stephanie says:

However, I do think boy dogs deserve manly boy dog decorations – Boas? No no no. Plus they’d just eat them.

Nah.  Hellhounds don’t eat anything.  (Sigh.)  And it depends on your boy dogs.  These guys have aesthete written all over their bony, elegant little selves.  I’ve had sighthounds now for over twenty years (yeep) and I still find their sheer beauty astonishing.  I’m also the kind of girl who gets hot for guys in long hair and earrings, you know?  I could do boas on male dogs.  Especially Darkness, who is the total sybarite.  Chaos wouldn’t eat his, but he probably would want a brisk tug-of-war with it. 

So glad you got out and home with a minimum of calamities.

If there hadn’t been any it wouldn’t have been you, would it? 


Akai says: 

It sounds simply delightful (barring the carpark issue and the almost missing your station at the end of the day)!!! I hope you had fun… although you’ve now made me terrified of British Train Stations, which my sister and I will have to learn to navigate next summer.

No no no no!  Don’t be terrified!  The Britrail system in general works very well.  And it’s a complete miracle to an American–or it is to this American–a country-wide train system that works.  Whatever will they think of next.  And remember the nice Britrail employee who sold me a car park ticket and then made sure it went to whoever it needed to go to so I had a car when I got back instead of a large yellow clamp with car-shaped accoutrements.  This is also my experience of Britrail:  the vast majority of the staff are really good guys (male and female).  You’ll hit a creep on a bad day, but that’s the exception. 

            You’ll also meet the occasional train station from hell.  Clapham Junction–brrrrrr.  It’s the train version of O’Hare–your connecting train will arrive late and the one you need will be on the opposite end of the universe, under the sign that fell down last week and they haven’t replaced it yet.

Pictures would be lovely, especially of these All-Stars you mention. I haven’t seen any with climbing roses and they sound fun! 

I really do have to learn to use the new photo system on the updated WordPress.  Sigh.  I can do this.  I hope.

 (my poor old black converse [traditional, I know]

Hey!  I have black!  I just have thirty-nine** other colours too!

 are now about 9 years old,

NINE YEARS OLD???  You’ve managed to keep a pair of All Stars going NINE YEARS?  What is your SECRET?  . . . Oh.  You probably don’t walk hellhounds in yours. 

 and have holes and rips. 

It’s only the holes and rips in the BOTTOM that count, so that when you walk on wet ground you get wet feet.  Sigh.  I’m about to have to get rid of . . . oh, half a dozen or so pairs.  I will wear them as long as there’s still enough of them left to tie on but . . . 

 That means I can’t wear them this winter and need a new pair…SOB!!! Although, on the bright side, I would get to draw new things on the sides.) 

Yes, and the first time they get soaked, you have to do it again, and life is short.  Probably near a quarter of mine are For Dry Weather Only–most of Converse’s own decorated ones aren’t waterproof.  Speaking of SOB. 

Mrs Redboots says: 

Robin wrote
I therefore failed to mention that I’d come prepared to read aloud from work in progress

Oh, you beast! Just for that I shall post my photo of you and Southdowner and Hazel, but not just yet as it is still on my phone, and I am about to go skating. But when I get back….. bwahahahaha (actually, I think it’s a really nice photo, as far as I can tell looking on my phone’s tiny screen).

Steady on.  I’ll hunt you down and write Rude Things on your red boots, speaking of decorated footwear.  (This could get interesting.  And then in outrage, you’ll . . . ?)  If it’s any comfort the reason I came prepared is because I was afraid no one would talk to me and it would just be me wittering away with an increasing sense of panic. . . . This is why I never do gigs without something on hand to read aloud. 

Diane in MN says:

 It sounds like things went well in spite of the efforts of the train station gods to mess you up. I’m so glad to hear that the hellhounds are better AND EATING. Maybe it will get to be a habit. 

I will just say, very briefly–speaking of the credibility gap between my real life and this blog–that the Yellow Squirts are back, and I have spent a lot of today playing phone tag with various vets.  And despairing. 

Lucy Coates says: 

Heh heh heh. PEGASUS or the short-short story for the new WATER. Heh.

Now that is just plain mean! What an opportunity we missed, being reserved British people who ARE TOO POLITE to ask an author if maybe she has a work in progress she might like to read from! 

Again, if it’s any comfort, I, who do not, generally, suffer any great inability to open my mouth, wouldn’t have the chutzpah to ask a writer I didn’t know at a public event if s/he had something new to read. –Oh, all your published books are so yesterday.  I want something new.  And I did bring the new stuff, first, because I travel with it on a memory stick in my knapsack and second, in case the evening was a disaster and I had to get through it somehow. 

No, seriously, it was squashed but wonderful, and I have to say that your belt, Robin, made me deeply covetous. It was a thing of sparkly wonder and delight. I missed the rose All Stars, though. Bah! 

I will attempt to inspire myself to engage with the Photo Blog Thingummy.  The belt is good, isn’t it?  Peter gave it to me–off his own recognizance.  He once bought me a fairly astonishing sequinned waistcoat that he reported proudly caused great admiration, and perhaps some consternation, on the part of the clerk who sold it to him.  She said several times, are you sure your wife will wear it?

            Right.  That’s the wardrobe theme for my next appearance. 

Louiz says: 

Clears throat a bit – forgot my camera… sorry:(

It was fantastic. 

Oh good. 

There were 22 of us when I counted, in a fairly small, booklined room – and Robin sitting behind the desk, magisterially


 reading to us, and Hazel on the floor in front of the desk, looking fabulous in pink (there was even a tiara,

Yes.  The tiara was excellent.  I love how matter-of-fact Hazel was about the whole thing.  People!  Goody!  Tiara!  Oh, fine!  Feather boa!  I can do that!

She did readings (and it surprised me that she has an American accent – I don’t know why, maybe because writing doesn’t have an accent)

 Snork.  But I am American.  And surely SUNSHINE could only have been written by an American?  And DRAGONHAVEN?

She told us… what did she tell us? Ah yes:

That the Hellhounds were ok.

Yes, well, um.

That there is another book being planned for the Sunshine universe (she gave us a very very few details but didn’t want to give us too much… Based in England, female baddie, female protagonist…)

Yes.  ALBION.  Deep apologies for not getting back to this on the blog.  I know I copied and pasted a query about it into a Word document because I was going to get back to it, but my computer files are in virtual piles the way everything else is in real piles around my desk.†  ALBION takes place at roughly the same time as SUNSHINE and in a city nearby to begin with, but our heroine, who has been nicknamed Tree because she doesn’t admit to her real name (and trees, you may remember, are impervious to dark magic, so it’s a good name to have on your side), shortly moves to Albion when she–ahem!–marries an Albionian who is a lot older than she is–ahem!  He dies.  He dies on the first page, so I’m not giving anything away:  and Peter wrote the Debrett’s entry on him (he’s posh).  America, by the way, in Sunshine’s world, is Independencia,†† but it never quite came up in SUNSHINE. 

Albion was hit in the Voodoo Wars much worse than Independencia, and there’s a lot of it that is uninhabitable or at least seriously strange as a result . . . and some of the holes let other things through.  Some of these Other Things don’t like vampires either, and Tree allies with one of them.  He’s the Hot Guy. 

            And the chief villain is a female vampire, although villain is perhaps oversimplified. . . .

She told us about bell ringing and how she started.

I’m pretty sure this is in the FAQ in the ‘hobbies’ . . . er . . . volume.

Constantine is not called after Connie the horse, or vice versa. 

Connie is named Connie because I’ve always liked the name, and she’s half Connemara–she’s a Connemara/Irish thoroughbred cross.  The name came instantly upon introduction.  Constantine was Constantine the first time I needed a name (at the end of part one:  I wrote that note he left on Sunshine’s phone pad, and there was his name.  It happens like that sometimes), and he was also always Con.  But I do like the name Connie and was therefore wistful that the only person who used it in SUNSHINE is the super-baddy Beau.

She read from Sunshine (I missed the reading from Chalice).

We then queued up very politely

Yes you certainly did.  After twenty years the British are still a mystery to me.  Frequently a good mystery.

 and got our books signed (and books on the shelves kept throwing themselves at me and Vikki – literally, I don’t mean in a euphemistically “and then we bought them” way, I mean landing on us, or falling on the floor when we walked past), which Robin did very nicely.

 Happy to.  Really.

It was difficult to see Robin’s all stars – but she had a lovely sparkly star hair slide in which I envied, and a lovely velvetty jacket on.

 Thank you!  The only thing I’ve ever found clearly and genuinely enjoyable about Author Appearances is getting dressed for them.  The perfect opportunity to do something silly/eye catching/dramatic/whatever.  Clothes are fun when you aren’t thinking only in terms of hellhound walking, gardening, etc . . . and I manage fairly silly daily anyway (I don’t have forty pairs of All Stars not to wear).  I’m a fantasy writer for heaven’s sake, if I can’t dress up to amuse . . . there’s something wrong.  The drawback is that, having got dressed for a gig, I have to go to the gig and face people.

I may have missed one or two answers when the books threw themselves at me (I was right at the back because of being late)

Louiz. (annoyed about the camera thing).

 Yes but you CAME.  This is the REALLY IMPORTANT THING.  And I personally COMPLIMENT you on your memory.  I wouldn’t’ve remembered half the above without prompting. 

Anef says: 

I enjoyed the signing, thank you very much. And thank you for answering all the questions, especially my one about Albion. 

As above.  Apologies.  This is probably a dangerous thing to say, but you’re allowed to remind me of things that I’ve either said I’ll talk/blog about and haven’t, or that you’re hoping I will and I haven’t absolutely said I won’t, like the Third Damar Novel. 

 Now only another two or three years to wait….

I’m writing PEGASUS as fast as I can.  Or I will be, when we get WATER dealt with.

I thought you looked remarkably calm and collected,

 YEEP.  I’m a better liar than I realised.  I have always comforted myself with the thought that frenzy is as good a persona as any.  Well, of the choices available to me, which include things like paralytic silence and hiding under the desk. 

 despite the transport problems and the recovering Hellhounds. Is this what you call Full Public Mode? I must say, it conveys an air of sanity and control that is far removed from your blog persona.

 SNORK.  Oh my.  Are you sure you were at my signing last night?  Sanity?  Control? 

It’s a shame in a way that you didn’t manage to read from work in progress, but then it would only have whetted our appetites unfairly. I was struck, however, in the readings that you chose, by how similar, in some ways, the situations of the Master in Chalice and Constantine are: both at a distance from the human world, and the heroine having somehow to bridge that distance. Both inhumanly powerful, but at the same time more vulnerable than humans as well. And there are resonances between Mirasol and Sunshine, as well.

Yes.  The story I tell over and over and over and over is Beauty and the Beast.  It all comes from there.  There are variations on the theme–and it’s inside out or upside down sometimes–but the communication gap between one living being and another is pretty much the ground line.  And usually the gap-bridger is love. 

Anyway, enough of that, or I might find myself having to re-read Chalice immediately.

 And that would, of course, be . . . a great idea. 

. . . And that’s enough for one night.   Whew, even. 

* * * 

* Readers of this blog will be aware that I have a somewhat comprehensive fondness for dogs.  If the manager’s dog is a nice dog I’ll have an okay time after all. 

** There are reasons I like HP Lovecraft. 

***  blush 


†† I don’t guarantee the spelling.  I look things up last.


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