Hi, all! I was so busy touring I didn’t have time to blog about it. But now I do (sort of?). I am still working on the adaptation of Good Neighbors to screen. I also have good news about my next book, which I hope to announce soon. This is the thing that makes me happiest of all. Ten years without a novel publication was pretty awful. I hope it doesn’t happen again until I’m 100, or at least 70, and caring for grandchildren.
I was so thrilled that Barnes and Noble chose Good Neighbors as its February Book Club selection. They asked for an afterward about the genesis of the story, in context, which I provided and is in any copy you purchase from them. I have been going to B&N since I was a kid, and I wrote out of B&Ns all over Manhattan. I now have two stores very close by in Los Angeles. There’s this wonderful smell in a B&N — the smell of fresh books. The wonder and the thrill of them.
I visited 44 Barnes and Nobles in February, signing the stock they had, and meeting whomever was available. I did so safely, with two masks, using my own pen, and keeping distant. I did not get sick (happily) and I did not make anyone else sick. I did, however, have a wonderful time.
My first week, I started out at Dark Delicacies, where the owner Del Howison opened the store for me and my family while I signed. We met Mick Garris while there. He was also signing. Del is like a host in Los Angeles, to everyone in genre. We caught up and gossiped, and he gave me a copy of his own novel, The Survival of Margaret Thomas, which I’m excited to read. His store also hosted a video interview, which you can find here.
My next stop was my book launch with Hilarie Burton at Mysterious Galaxy, via zoom. Hilarie was gifted a copy of Hex Life, which includes my novelette “Night Nurse,” and she liked it so much she contacted me. We became friends and I asked her to conduct the interview. This worked out great, as before the show started I was so terrified that I blurted: I just want this to be worth your time! I want you guys to all be happy with me! And she gave me this look, like: calm down! I got this! And she did have it. Thank you, Hilarie Burton. You are smart and diligent and you made it look so easy.
My stop after that was with Grady Hendrix at Novel Bookstore in Memphis. Grady’s most recent novel Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires made me cry. It’s that good, and it’s about housewives during the 1980s. Their lives look so wonderful from the outside. It made me think of my mom, who died in June. At the event, Grady was the showman he’s always been, and we had a ball. He ended the session with a plea on behalf of indy bookstores, which are suffering.
February 4 was my event was at Book Revue on Long Island. Book Revue is super fancy, and I suspect they were swayed by Victor, who’s a literary hot shot and also an incredibly nice guy. We met our first year in grad school, and I remember seeing him looking out the window during a workshop in Dodge Hall. I joined him. And we’ve been friends ever since. Poor Victor’s furnace blew up right when the show was supposed to start. But he handled it like a pro, put on a coat, and went on with the show. A lot of our old friends came to listen.
Over the weekend, I visited six Barnes and Nobles. Many of these stores had just started to open up again and employees were returning to work after a long time. My first stop was Studio City, which is closest to my house. They moved the book to the front, and the manager was lovely. We had a nice chat, and I realized that I had stock I could gift to whomever was most likely to read Good Neighbors, so I went back home, got my box of books, and gave her a copy.
My second stop was at Calabasas Park. The third in Thousand Oaks, where they’d just reopened, and were still moving stock around, but they nonetheless spent the time finding Good Neighbors. The manager there was very kind. After that, I signed at Ventura, then Santa Clarita (like the TV show!). At Santa Clarita, the woman I met was especially nice. Thank you, Santa Clarita B&N! Last, I went to the B&N in Burbank, and met the manager, who was excited I was there, and then I got excited, and we were both very excited.
It’s strange, having a book come out during a pandemic. These visits made it seem more real. I tried to find out what employees at the various B&Ns liked to read, so that I could make sure to get my book in front of the right people. There’s this false myth that B&N employees don’t like books– it’s just a job. But this is not at all true. They love books. Every person I met was an avid reader. Some were also writers. Pre-pandemic, many stores had their own book clubs going on. They all expressed sadness that they could no longer have in-store book clubs, as they read the books, too, and enjoyed the discourse.