Writers like to feel sorry for themselves, which is easy to do in private, but when called on to feel sorry for ourselves in social situations we will often do so by sharing terrible book tour stories. Here is mine. Before I begin, I will ask you to type my name into your favorite search engine — if you like, you can even type "jonathan dee author," which would seem sort of foolproof, right? Except that there is another "jonathan dee author." He lives in Wales and writes New Age-type books with titles like An Illustrated Guide to the Tarot
and Simply Face Reading
. We have never met, nor can I imagine the circumstances that might bring us together.
So on a tour a few years ago to promote the paperback of my previous novel, Palladio, I found myself in Milwaukee in February. I had a reading that evening at a local bookstore, and before that, I was booked to appear on a local radio show. My itinerary for the tour listed only the name of the show ("Hotel Wisconsin"), a street address, and the designation "Live." I took a cab to that street address and discovered that it was a stage door. Beyond it was the Pabst Theater, which may be named after a brand of beer associated with reduced circumstances but is basically the Carnegie Hall of Milwaukee. (Here is a link to a nice video tour of the venue.) A band was rehearsing onstage. There must have been a thousand people in the audience — a shocking contrast to my usual radio gig, which consisted of myself and one other person sitting in a basement with headphones on. So someone onstage sees me looking frightened and brings the host over to meet me. "I'm so looking forward to this," the host says, referring to our five-minute segment, scheduled to air live about ten minutes hence. "I love your work. I thought maybe we could start out with the whole Chinese head-reading thing." That's right — he was under the impression he had booked the other Jonathan Dee.
Reader, all my life I will regret not being quick enough on the draw to have processed this whole catastrophe in an instant and replied to this man — who had, and likely still has, no idea who I am — "Yes. My thinking exactly. Let's walk out on stage, and then you bend over and I will read the bumps on your head." I would have had a story that would have had people buying me drinks for the rest of my life. Instead, I have this one.