When my second novel, The Stud Book, was published, people asked, "Will they send you on a tour?"
The phrasing of the question made a tour sound so passive, so receptive. It sounded like punishment: Are they going to send you to your room?
There are authors who dread tours. I'm not one of them. For better or worse though, I wasn't sent on a tour at all, but soon enough I was invited on one. With the release of Chuck Palahniuk's most recent novel, Doomed, he was sent on a tour and invited me onboard.
Of Fight Club fame. He's a culture-maker. Chuck, who interviewed Marilyn Manson, among others, who knows Brad Pitt, who writes a book a year and has a reputation for sending personalized presents to his fans.
When Chuck Palahniuk invites you to join his book tour, there's only one answer: yes.
I packed my bags.
I put six sets of pajamas, one thousand customized condoms with the words The Stud Book on each wrapper, my best eyeliner, and a pair of slippers in a single carry-on, and zipped it. Ready. Good to go.
Because those are the things you need for a book tour, right?
Chelsea Cain was part of the tour too. Bonus! Total party. If you don't know already, she's the author of the New York Times bestselling thriller Gretchen and Archie series, including Heartsick, Sweetheart, several others, and, most recently, Let Me Go.
Her books are scary and rugged. They're laced with humor and always smart, but they're brutal.
That's right — I shared hotels, slept soundly even, just down the hall from a woman who spends her time thinking up gruesome murder scenes. And I'm fine! (I locked my doors.) Really, she's very sweet, but don't let the word get out. She has a reputation to uphold for pushing the boundaries of terror.
Our book tour? It was a roving pajama party, a literary rave complete with Day-Glo and blinking swag.
We had 900 people at one event, 800 at another. Our most intimate crowd was well over 350.
At each venue, Chuck might say something along the lines of, "Who here has been to a reading before?" Maybe half the room would raise a hand. He'd say, "Well, here's how a reading works."
And he'd tell them to blow up their beach balls. He'd tell them what to do.
Start the storytelling!
Cut the lights!
After that, it was all glow-in-the-dark beach balls flying, everybody in pajamas, drinks in hand. It was beautiful to watch the crowd, rapt, listening to stories. Whoever says book tours are dead hasn't been to this kind of a book event. It was definitely alive.
We met a lot of people, signed stacks of books, and, most of all, had a really good time. At their heart, writing and reading are about bringing together people to share a rich emotional truth. I think that's what we did.
My dear friends, these writers, they're geniuses on the page and off.
One more bit of brilliance? On this particular tour, reading "Bedtime Stories for Adults," we had a built-in, ongoing reason to hang out together in hotel bars in our glam jams, all over the country.
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Monica Drake is the author of Clown Girl, winner of an Eric Hoffer Award and an "IPPY" (Independent Publishers Award), and The Stud Book. She has an MFA from the University of Arizona and is currently a faculty member at the Pacific Northwest College of Art, where she is department chair of the newly launched BFA in Writing, a program that blends visual and written arts.
Books mentioned in this post
Monica Drake is the author of The Stud Book