On the Road …

There’s nothing like restriction of movement to get you thinking about how badly – having changed trains in York – you want to be sitting again, upfront on the bus taking the winding road from Scarborough to Whitby; or the never-ending train journey that makes each and every stop between Plymouth and its eventual terminus in Penzance. And January being the month Body & Soul is published in France, I could have expected, in more normal times, to have been whisked across to Paris on Eurostar for lunch with my French agent and publisher, with talk of returning later in the year to take part in Noir sur la Ville in Lamballe or Quais du Polar in Lyon.

But, no. Rien. Instead, there are memories of journeys taken, book tours in Sweden and Italy, the UK and the USA.

For a number of years, when the Resnick novels were being published in the States by Henry Holt, they would fly me over and, after several events in New York, where they are based, send me out on the road. More precisely, and before my highly developed fear of flying, in the air. Most visits were short-lived. Someone would be standing at Arrivals with a copy of my latest book in their hand and I’d be whisked off to sign stock at Barnes & Noble et cetera, before being deposited at the hotel and picked up again later and ferried to whichever bookstore I was appearing at that evening. After which, most often, I’d be driven to the airport early the following morning to catch a plane to the next stop on the schedule. It was tiring, it was fun, and I was getting to see far more of the States than I’d ever visited before.

New York City, mid-90s

Ferreting through a poorly organised folder labelled Events, I came across the following, a list of venues visited on a book tour I made in 1994, twenty of them.

Reading at Partners & Crime, New York City, 1996

Generally speaking, events at dedicated crime and mystery bookstores were more successful than those at larger, general stores, and over a number of years I got to know a number of them – and their owners – well and relish the opportunity to make another visit. The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale would be one of those and The Black Orchid another. At Partners in Crime, in New York City, there was always the possibility of at least one other author being present, Larry Block on one occasion, I remember, and Charlotte Carter on another. Michael Connelly dropped in to the Mystery Annex on an evening when, for some reason, I’d decided to read poetry as well as fiction – the story of which is told in his 2011 novel, The Drop.

Outside the Bird of Paradise, Ann Arbor, before reading with local jazz musicians

Now, here we are when planes and trains are out of reach, buses are risky last resorts and visiting my local bookstore – Owl Bookshop in Kentish Town- to chat to Gary, the manager, and browse the shelves, is no longer a possibility – and a visit to Ross Bradshaw and Five Leaves Bookshop in Nottingham a fantasy

Author: John Harvey


2 thoughts on “On the Road …”

  1. So much we took for granted ‘back then’. I’m hoping to see my fourth Jeff Lincoln novel in print at the end of this year, but talks and radio shows and events are so much part of the promotional activities, especially for indie writers like myself. And it grieves me that the cultural sector has been so hard hit. We can only hope it will bounce back when this is all over.

  2. In the current situation I’m pleased that I made the decision to ‘pack it in’ before the virus struck. Hence, none of the disappointment at not being able to go to this bookstore, that festival. And, old fogey in some respects that I am, I would find having take part in zoom interviews and webinars about as pleasant as having teeth pulled without an anaesthetic. But I do sympathise strongly with writers such as yourself, whose books are being published in the midst of lockdown.

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