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Monday, 7 April 2014

Guest Post by Michael Grant (Light Blog Tour)



I am honoured today to welcome Michael Grant to The Book Zone as part of the Light Blog Tour. Michael's here today to tell us what it is like for him on a real world book tour. I was very fortunate to be able to listen to Michael last autumn when we welcomed him in to school to talk to our Year 9s. If you ever get the chance to listen to him then I suggest you grab it!

Thanks to the Book Zone for Boys for letting me blog tour on this blog.  I’ll try not to say anything embarrassing.

So, I am visiting the UK in October on what we like to call “Book Tour.”  I think this will be my sixth or seventh UK book tour, though my first for MESSENGER OF FEAR.  I’ve also done one such tour, for GONE and BZRK, in Australia and New Zealand, one for GONE to Netherlands, a quick dash to Ireland, and of course many such excursions around the States.

My non-US tours are different from my travels around the States.  In the States I know the lay of the land, so to speak, so I fly un-accompanied and generally eschew the offered limousines in favor of renting a car.  In the UK I travel with a publicist, most often by train.  We don’t really do trains in the US, we do cars.  I’m a Californian by birth and we do cars to an even greater extent than other Americans.  California is the birthplace of car culture.

As a part of genus Americanus, species Californius Irascibilus, I am uneasy on trains.  Trains run on schedules and that means I am out of control of my movements.  It means I cannot decide to pull over and go shopping.  It means I cannot park and sleep unobserved.  It means I cannot drive through a fast food restaurant and eat a burger with one hand while driving with the other while adjusting the radio while puffing on a cigar while cursing other drivers and offering useful hand-signals meant to convey my lack of satisfaction with their driving skills.

Being a Californian requires a great deal of eye-hand coordination.  

It seems unsafe somehow to just sit in a train.  God only knows who’s driving the thing and whether he or she is paying attention.  And it’s strange not being on my own.  The publicists are invariably charming, tolerant, bright, tolerant women young enough to be my daughter, who have the unenviable job of guiding a cranky old fart through busy stations and into schools and bookstores where I manage to irritate teachers and administrators by saying things I shouldn’t.  

Did I mention that the publicists are tolerant young women?  One of my favorites sometimes reads religious works.  I like to think she was an atheist before being paired with me and that I drove her to seek the solace of religion.  

Anyway, we careen around the country in trains, stopping here and there so that I can address auditoriums full of kids who’ve escaped math class to hear me ramble on about how much better their lives will be if they’ll only buy my book.  (Which in case you missed it is called, MESSENGER OF FEAR.)  I suppose they should also read my books, but the fact is I’m there to sell books, so, really, what they do with the book is entirely up to them.

I have a love-hate relationship with Book Tour, but always end up having a lot of fun in the UK.  Once I broke away and drove a rented car across Scotland.  As you know, Scots, like Brits, drive on the wrong side of the road, so it wasn’t perhaps my best driving effort.  (Sorry about the side mirrors, you folks parked in Edinburgh, but the road was pretty narrow and I was on the wrong side of it, after all.)  But generally it’s the train, which I have to say, is almost always on time, usually clean and not always packed to the rafters.  

I know Brits often complain about the trains, but it lacks the conviction of a Californian complaining about traffic.  And with no opportunity for useful hand gestures and the possibility of gunfire in response, it all seems just a bit tame.  

In any event, British folk, I will be there soon.  Or may already be there by the time you read this.  You may want to fold in those side mirrors in case I break free and get my hands on a steering wheel.

It’s still drive on the left, right?


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