On January 31st, Week 1 of the book tour was set begin. The first stop would be Albuquerque, which I knew was in New Mexico, which I knew was the desert, which I knew was hot. That’s where the problem started. “You’re bringing shorts?” Liz asked, watching me move clothes from my drawer into my small bag. “Just in case,” I said. “Just in case what?” I stopped packing, wondering if she was being difficult. “In case it’s hot,” I said. “I’ll be in Albuquerque for two days.” She nodded. “Hmmm,” she said. She watched me start packing again. Then she said, “You know that Albuquerque is cold right now, right? Like – freezing cold.” “It’s in New Mexico!” This was the beginning of my lesson that protesting that a place shouldn’t be cold does not necessarily make it not cold.
I love San Francisco, but I’m not sure how San Francisco feels about me. Not that the booksellers there, at my first pre-publication dinner, weren’t effusive about the book – they were, humblingly so. And not because the independent booksellers and librarians out there weren’t awesome folks – they were. No, I think it’s because I continued to refer to San Francisco as “San Fran” for the first hour of conversation, until I noticed that every time I did, somebody would find a reason to say “San FranCISCO” a few seconds later.
Almost exactly two years after first deciding to write this book, Little Princes goes on sale today. I’m a little bit surprised that it’s actually kind of emotional for me. I’m not really the emotional type – I’ve got too much Irish blood in me, maybe. (Irish men cry just long enough to clear the amniotic fluid from their lungs, then it’s stiff upper lip until cremation.)
What I knew about the publishing industry two years ago could be summed up in one word: The. It would not, admittedly, be a great summary. Since the idea for this book came about a couple of years ago, I’ve learned a tremendous amount, at least in relation to what I started out knowing. And since we are here on the eve of US publication of my first book, I thought I’d share a bit of that with you.
On a recent trip down to Virginia, Liz and I listened to the audio book of a Dean Koonz thriller. I hadn’t really listened to audio books before, and Liz and I joked a bit about the drama in the fellow’s voice. He was clearly a professional actor who knew very well that he was – in the parlance of the day – hot shizzle. But I’ll tell you something: the guy was good. He sucked us in; his voices were extraordinary enough that I stopped thinking about the fact that this was one guy doing all these voices: men, women, old men, hobos, waitresses, other hobos, killers, a drunk Texan, and, in one case, a mad scientist. (For rizzle.) When I first learned that LITTLE PRINCES would be an audio book, the executive producer recommended to my agent that we use a professional. It’s exhausting work, he told her, especially if I hadn’t done anything like that before. The week before it was about to record, however, I got a call from the new executive producer, who had actually read the book and asked me to consider reading it. “The whole thing is just so your own voice,” she said. “I think the audio book would really benefit from you reading it.” Truth be told, I did kind of want to read it. I try to be funny in the book quite often and I was terrified that the reader wouldn’t pick up on any of it, because maybe it wasn’t funny at all, and he would just read it in a monotone and I would have to inform everybody I met: “You know, delivered properly, this is really very, very funny.” I decided that if the humor sunk like a stone, I would want to be captaining the ship.