On the Road

I just got back from a nine-day book tour covering six North Carolina stores and the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance conference in New Orleans. I was at Bull’s Head, Regulator, McIntyre’s, Flyleaf, Country Bookshop, and Park Road; then at SIBA I was on a panel with four other writers. It’s always a pleasure and a privilege to go out and talk up what you’ve been working on for the past couple of years. Even more of a treat is that rare chance to connect face-to-face with readers and other writers. At SIBA Susan Gregg Gilmore and I read paragraphs on camera from each other’s books. Later on, after a mass signing event, I went out for drinks and dinner with other admired fellow writers—Michael Parker, Drew Perry, and Jamie Poissant.
Hanging out with writers is the icing; the cake is the chance to meet booksellers and readers and to talk about everything from work habits to research to my sheriff grandmother. What I especially like is the Q&A time, when I get to hear what my readers and potential readers are interested in. I love the back-and-forth that often comes from a question, whether it’s one I’ve entertained many times or something completely new.
As a writer with a background in journalism, I’ve had to adjust to talking about my work instead of asking questions. But the wonderful thing about book audiences is that we all share a love of reading. So before they even come up to have their book signed I know we are members of the same club, because I know that for us few experiences can compare with spending a dozen or so hours alone in a great story.
I’ll be going out again in a couple of weeks, hitting eight more cities and two festivals. By the end I’ll be looking forward to getting back to my writing routine—it’s a common feeling among writers on tour. But I also know that the time away is a good refresher in itself, and book tour in particular is invaluable for those connections, those reminders that we’re not writing for ourselves but for all kinds of people, all of us on the lookout for another good book.