Hello, Portland! I suck. I won't be coming there on this book tour.
Believe me; this hurts me as much as it does you. I love Portland. I tell everyone who would know what I'm talking about that I actually met David McCullough and his wife in my hotel on second-to-last trip there. First I thought, that's a very handsome elderly gentleman, and then I thought, I know that voice! (My Spouse-Creature and I have only watched Ken Burns's The Civil War, which McCullough narrates, about six times.) Mr. McCullough and I introduced ourselves in the elevator, and learned both of us were there on book tour (him for 1776). I got to tell him that his The Johnstown Flood was one of my favorite books, and he and his equally lovely wife took down my name to see if their grandkids would like my stuff. How cool is that? David McCullough is one of our most distinguished historians, and my favorite along with Shelby Foote (The Civil War) and John Keegan (The American Civil War).
Yes, I have favorite historians. I steal a lot of ideas from history. The basis of my current book comes from China's repeated invasions of Tibet. The basis of Bloodhound came from the economic history of the Middle Ages, and that of Terrier from my endless fascination with true crime (as do the ideas for Magic Steps, Street Magic, Cold Fire, and Shatterglass). I started Trickster's Choice with the Seymour brothers, uncles to the Tudor Edward VI, and moved on to the history of empires and colonialism in Trickster's Queen (not to mention that of Elizabeth I and Catherine the Great). And, of course, both of my universes ? Tortall and the Circle of Magic ? are initially based in the medieval world, the former in Europe and England, the latter on the Middle East and Central Asia at the time of the Silk Roads. When I have questions I can't get historians to answer, such as how could brothers hate one another so much that one would allow the other to be sent to the headsman's block, only to follow him a year later, I work on my own answers. And since I didn't get to do as much with the brothers as I wanted to, maybe I'll go back to them. History is loaded with riches when you're stuck for ideas and characters. I still have to do something with the great minister and diplomat Talleyrand.
Mastiff, the third Beka Cooper book, is the one that takes me on tour this time. I'm going to miss working with Beka and her dark, dirty, ambiguous world, more like that of Monty Python's Dennis than that of King Arthur. No one, including Beka, has any reason to trust the king or the nobility, and an elastic conscience is necessary for survival. Beka just does her job, as best as she can, preferring to do it for the people who need the help the most. She reflects who I am, a hillbilly from southwestern Pennsylvania who sometimes finds herself moving among the upper classes without quite understanding how she got there, and certainly not always understanding them.
I hope you like the book, those of you who read it. Have fun in Portland, and at Powell's... ::sigh::
Oh, well. Next time, next book. I am writing one, you know.