Monday, July 19, 2010

The Big July - road trip I

My last Sydney date before the big south coast-Canberra-Campbelltown road trip began was at A+R Warringah.
Some days you get the feeling that people are just not in the buying mood - happily, they were at Warringah! I sold out of Wounded Guardians in little more than an hour and so was able to get home early and prepare for my big road trip.
One of the more interesting people I spoke to was the father of Mark Timmony, the manager of Galaxy Books in the city, which will finish my 50 stores extravaganza - not that he needed to buy the books but it was great to talk to him!
Fourteen stores, four days and easily 700km in driving ... this was going to make or break The Big July. Possibly both!
My first day was driving south to Batemans Bay stopping at Shellharbour and Nowra along the way. As contemplated fitting in four store appearances around a 350km trip over 11 hours, I began to wonder if I had bitten off more than I could chew...
The trip to Shellharbour A+R was easy enough, despite the best efforts of roadworks to slow me down. At Shellharbour they had decided to restrict three lanes into one, then lean on a few shovels and watch their handiwork snail by. Then I discovered that there are actually two Stockland malls in Shellharbour, one for retail and one for bulk goods and of course I picked the wrong one first up...
The A+R was in a good spot but was probably one of the more challenging appearances I've had, thanks to the chicken shop across the aisle, where a spruiker was in full flight, extolling the virtues of their drumsticks.
Why all spruikers must have cockney accents and a desire to double entendre with specials on lovely legs and chicken breasts I don't know but there we are ...
Shellharbour really stuck in my mind. Firstly I sold Wounded Guardian to the sister of Ian Irvine, the famous Australian fantasy writer. Kerry was there with her mother and they kindly decided to support me - even better, Kerry came back 20 minutes later saying she'd read the first dozen pages and was hooked and wanted the whole trilogy!
But beyond that was a lovely Aboriginal lady, who was friends with the store owners, Doug and Beryl. She didn't buy the books but we chatted for a while, where she told me that I was writing something else now ... and then told me about it. She said she had some psychic powers, that she does not always reveal, but that sh felt compelled to talk to me. What she said will remain private but it left the hairs on the back of my neck standing up. It was accurate ... so accurate that she touched on things that I have only told a handful of people. I have to admit, it left me a little shaken - as well as uplifted.
I needed a little time to get my head back in shape and so stayed at Shellharbour a little longer than I planned, so set out for Nowra running a bit late.
It was a good trip down and I arrived at the Dymocks Nowra only 10 minutes late. I said before about how some days you just feel that people are ready to talk to you, and eager to buy. This was one of those days andI sold 16 books in less than an hour. There were few people walking by but they were almost all enthusiastic readers!
Just as was finishing, and preparing to go around the corner to the A+R, the heavens opened.
By the time I got to the A+R, the people who were ready to talk were all gone, replaced by people running for cover!
Nevertheless, things still went quite well, where I sold eight books, including one to a girl who had come in specially for book three (always a huge pleasure to sign one of those) and a family of teenagers, who bought book one after the oldest girl, who the father said would ``never'' read a book as thick as mine, begged and begged.
If Wounded Guardian gets her started on reading, and I hope it does, then that will be a huge thing for me.
So it was off to Batemans Bay, where I was staying with dear friends, dodging 4WDs along the way, who seemed utterly convinced that they always had the right to pull out at any moment, and other traffic had to avoid them.
Thursday night in Batemans Bay was chilly, and the people few and far between, although I did have an interesting discussion with one bloke down on holidays.
`What's your longest battle - how many pages?' he inquired.
So we examined my retelling of the battle of Pilleth in Risen Queen, which goes for four chapters and more than 120 pages.
`That's good enough,' he declared, satisfied.
He was from Sydney's north shore, and I remembered I had to sign a book for a chap at Chatswood, in a similar vein (so to speak) who wanted me to write ``enjoy the blood spray''. Not that I'm into glorifying war (the series goes the other way) but I'm happy to write whatever makes people happy...!
So I crashed at my friends' house in BB that night, thankful to have made it through a tough day - and with two days in Canberra to follow.

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