So, I was extremely nervous about touring with Scott Westerfeld, as he has written several millionty awesome and much-feted books. These nerves did not cease when I popped off the plane in LA, and Scott showed me an awesome slideshow of the illustrations from his book, which as you can see from this book trailer are kind of the definition of awesome.
SARAH: Oh oh my God. What am I going to do? MY BOOK HAS NO PICTURES IN IT. I thought I could do a reading-
SCOTT: No! Readings are boring.
SARAH: Oh oh my God. Is there a fainting couch in this hotel...?
We added three of my covers to the slideshow, and I used the Japanese cover art to point to and describe all the characters as I talked about open and closed fantasy worlds, and having a character who didn't fit into the ordinary world at all but would have to learn, and make-out scenes. Also, I made many and various lame jokes.
I had lots of fun. The audiences we had were lovely and attentive, and asked brilliant questions (more on that later) and laughed at all the lame jokes. Touring is huge fun.
Touring is also insane and exhausting. One day we had to get up at 4 am to catch a plane, and then we did three events that day. Oh we were not our most sparkling selves upon that night.
SCOTT: Sarah, we need to get food, but I do not want to carry my gadgets, and in my state of exhaustion I locked my room key in my room.
SARAH: That's okay, I have a room key!
SCOTT: Great, we'll put the gadgets in there.
SCOTT: ... Where was that room key again?
SARAH: *tips up bag onto the floor outside door* It is CERTAINLY in here somewhere. I am 78 per cent sure!
SCOTT: In other news, are you sure this is your hotel room? Because I hear movement in there...
SARAH: Of course I am sure! How can you be so absurd?
ELDERLY MAN IN PYJAMAS: *opens the door*
SCOTT AND SARAH: *hysterical laughter*
SARAH: OH HERE IS MY ROOM KEY! Now, where is my room?
SCOTT: Being a writer is so glamorous.
Sometimes, traveling with a boy writer was very sad.
SCOTT: Sarah here I am, looking so debonair and also all ready in my black ensemble for the steampunk high tea.
SARAH: Oh my God, should I curl my hair or straighten it? Do you think there's such a thing as a steampunk hair straightener?
SCOTT: ... I have no opinion on the matter.
The steampunk high tea, where there was a little steampunk set and people dressed in steampunk costumes (I wore my Victorian button boots, but must admit I was way outclassed) and a Goblin Market with a raven and talismans, was amazingly fun, but we did have to rush it to catch a plane. So I made the Ultimate Sacrifice.
LOVELY BOOKSELLER: Shall I bring you a scone?
SARAH: ... No. No, these lovely people have already put up with all my terrible jokes and are now about to get the full force of my lameness one-on-one. They do not need to see me signing books with clotted cream in my eyelashes.
Getting up early and rushing around on tour is pretty standard. However I will admit, some things would only happen to me.
SARAH'S HOTEL ROOM, LATE AT NIGHT
SARAH: *smells smoke*
AUTOMATED VOICE: You may have noticed your hotel room is on fire. Please stand by for further details.
SARAH: Well, I will stand by. The automated voice is never wrong.
SCOTT: *calls me* Sarah where are you the hotel is on fire!
SARAH: I am standing by in my room. The automated voice told me to.
SCOTT: What if the person whose job it is to press the button to change over to the automated voice that says 'Please flee the burning hotel' has already died in flames?
SARAH: Compelling point, Mr Westerfeld. I will be right down.
Some time later...
SCOTT: Sarah, did you bring anything downstairs but your laptop?
SARAH: *shifty eyes* Well... did you?
SCOTT: ... I brought my phone.
SARAH: When you take your laptop and leave your passport to burn, I think you reach some sort of ultimate level of geekiness.
SCOTT: Look, firemen! Let's twitter this event.
SARAH: Perhaps for us there is always a geekier level.
SCOTT: Do you remember when I played a joke on our publicist today and pretended I'd got off at the wrong train stop?
SCOTT: Do you think there's any chance she'll believe me if I email her and say the hotel is on fire?
SARAH: O Scott, you have killed us both.
Some time later...
FIREMEN: Not to worry, little hotel people. We brave men of the flame have saved the day. The fire was caused by towels.
SCOTT: People were smoking towels to get high?
SARAH: Newlyweds are in the hotel and the towels were ignited by their passion!
FIREMEN: ... Towels in the dryer.
The moral of this story may be never to leave writers to come up with their own explanations. Also, something about never crying wrong train station.
It got to the point where I was pretty scared to do an event without Scott, but at Wordstock in Portland I did one with the lovely Laini Taylor, who I was thrilled to see had pink hair. I even did a reading from The Demon's Covenant at that event, though I knew Scott would not approve.
Another thing which proved slideshows are awesome was that my copies of chapter one of the second book WENT FAST. Often I did not have enough. Sometimes, I did not have any.
SCOTT AND SARAH: *arrive at a new hotel*
SARAH: WHERE IS THE NEAREST KINKO'S OH MY GOD I NEED HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS OF COPIES!
SCOTT: Ahhh, time to rest. Isn't technology grand?
So, anyone who came and did not receive a copy of chapter one, I am sorry! It does not mean I do not appreciate you. And I hope I gave you a spoiler, if you wanted one. There was one lovely lady called Sojo in Seattle who I promised a present to I could not find at the time - if she is reading this, email me! I always keep my promises. Sometimes being terribly lame slows me down, but it never stops me. (Sarah Rees Brennan's motto for life - 'Never Let Being Terribly Lame Stop You'?)
It was lovely to meet people - booksellers and our audiences - who were really into books, who wanted to talk about them with us and who were into our books enough to come listen to us talk about them. Who were brave and true enough to sit through my cruel impressions of my little brother, and my enactions of Scott's characters making out.
I got many excellent questions, some of which I shall answer in another post for your further Tour Experience pleasure (one was about a gender-flipped Nick, and I have to admit, I did give some thought to a Nicola once upon a time). One was about whether blogging had helped me or hurt me.
I admit, there are downsides to blogging. But most of the people who came to mine and Scott's events for me were people who also read the blog, and told me they enjoyed it. I was not only graced with their presence at my events, but even given gifts - tea and chocolate and lemons and a talisman and a pumpkin with a demon's mark on it, oh my! That pumpkin was carved by the lovely lemonsquid, who has already made me a ton of awesome fanart. I wrote some of the third book that night by the light of the demon pumpkin in her honour. In Seattle I met the magnificent lettered, who had already won my heart completely by creating marmalade_fish, but who then gave me brownie cookies I am currently eating in Mexico.
I also now have a framed picture of the directions to the Goblin Market, left of the crooked tree, which is amazingly beautiful and destined to fill the place on my dresser currently occupied by a picture of my unworthy parents.
In short, getting to meet people like that, getting to hear my writing meant something to them - I could never regret blogging. It was an honour and a privilege to meet those of you I did meet! (It was also an honour and a privilege to meet Demon's Lexicon fans who did not read the blog, and Scott's most excellent fans, but though I thank them here, they may never see it!)
I hope to have the honour and privilege of meeting more of you sometime soon, and for now I hope that you feel you know a little about the Tour Experience! In summary: airplanes, slideshows, steampunk high teas (with models of ravens!), lame jokes, and hotels on fire. That's just the way I roll.