I got my first taste of book touring this past weekend, and it was a thrill.
I didn’t start out tentatively, one toe in the water. I leapt, making my first appearance on in a 15-minute interview Saturday on West Coast Live, a radio program from KALW 91.7. I think I got through it with a minimum of ums and uhhs.
Luckily, the host Sedge Thomson made it easy. He was prepared and had an excellent set of probing and provocative questions. It was clear that Sedge had read the entire book, which is not always the case with radio hosts. The questions weren’t obvious, and I ended up enjoying myself. It’s hard to condense a 360-page book and eight years of research into an interview, but I managed to convey a sense of Isaias Hellman, his life, and times.
No rest for the weary. I left West Coast Live, with its sweeping views of the Bay Bridge, Treasure Island, and the bay, and headed to the Oakland Convention Center, with no windows and no view. I was going to sign books at the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association’s annual convention. It’s a lot like Book Expo America, only much smaller. Publishers display their latest offerings and other vendors show off book-related tchotchkes.
My time slot to sign was 2 p.m. When I sat down, pen in had, to sign my first books (ever!) there was a respectably long line waiting. I don’t know if they were there because the book was free or because they wanted to read Towers of Gold, but I got so much joy out of signing, it didn’t really matter.
Then on Monday, I was in a panel at the Commonwealth Club for Litquake, the San Francisco literary festival, called Scandal, Intrigue and Drama in California History. I was talking about California history with authors Rick Wartzman and Ethan Rarick. Julia Flynn Siler moderated the discussion, which ranged from how to write history to particulars about each book. The panel will be broadcast on the radio sometime in the next few weeks.
The room was packed. A writing acquaintance, Joan Gelfand, even
. It’s a hoot to be on the other side.
The funny thing is that my book won’t be released until Nov. 11. So this was just a warm up. I will have the fun of doing more events in the coming weeks.