MaxBarry.com
fear my vigilantes

Max Barry wrote the novels Syrup, Jennifer Government, Company, Machine Man, and Lexicon. He also created the game NationStates and once found a sock full of pennies.

Blog

Mon 26
Mar
2007

Travel Diary: Day #2 (Los Angeles)

Writing Wow, I probably shouldn’t write blogs at 3AM. When I began typing up yesterday’s post, I intended to describe the rest of my day, which involved meeting NationStates admins for dinner and enjoying some ice cream that was like sex in a bowl, only creamier. But it was the middle of the night (I’d woken and couldn’t find sleep again), and after typing for a while, I started to feel like the only person on the planet. Then thinking about Fin saying “Neena, neena” tipped me over the edge, and it all abruptly ended in a very melancholic place.

On Sunday, however, I am reminded that I am actually incredibly privileged to be here, because today is my first reading. And before that, I get to do the LA thing: take meetings with movie people. First it’s the Syrup producers, to discuss the next draft, then Steve Pink, who’s writing the Company screenplay. Steve throws questions at me like, “Okay, my problem with Eve is this: in the third act does she redeem herself with Jones or should I have her sink deeper?” And I have absolutely no idea. I can’t even remember the book properly any more; I get confused between what’s in the final draft and what I threw out several years ago. I wish I could give Steve the kind of great story insights that only the original author can provide, but I’ve got nothing.

While being completely useless to Steve, I have breakfast, or lunch, or something. My body is still suspicious about what time it really is, and doesn’t want to commit to full-blooded meals: it wants to eat lots of small things, spaced about an hour apart. I order a bowl of oatmeal and an orange juice, which unexpectedly shatters my previous record for most overpriced book tour meal: it’s $53, excluding tip. Even the waitress is a little embarrassed, and this is Beverly Hills. It may be difficult to explain this one to my publisher.

In the afternoon I have my event at Book Soup. It’s at an odd time, 4pm on a Sunday, which I’m expecting will mean a smaller crowd than last time. On previous tours this would have worried me, since I’m still emotionally scarred from the experience of reading to empty rows of seats on earlier book tours. It’s pretty hard work to stand at a microphone when the only six people in the audience have all chosen to sit at the very back of the 90 seats the bookstore laid out. (Ah, Madison.) But now I think a small crowd would be fine. More personal and fun, even. I had such amazing turnouts on the hardback tour a year ago; I think it’s made me less paranoid that a small crowd means a freefalling career and crawling back to Hewlett-Packard to beg for my old job back.

Twenty or thirty people show up, which is about perfect for the space, and that’s when I realize I have to stop wallowing in homesickness. Because how amazing is it to have people actually bother to come see you and talk about how much they like your books? Most writers would kill for something like this. I get to do it for the next eight days, plus eat bowls of $53 oatmeal.

The reading has a great, casual feel; I talk a little about the origins of the book, read a few sections, then answer questions. It finally occurs to me why the publisher was a little reluctant to send me to the same city I visited on the hardback tour: I need to come up with something original for anyone who was here a year ago. So one of the things I do is read a couple of pages from the new book I’m working on, which I’m calling The Exceptionals. This is actually a little nerve-wracking, because it’s still pretty raw and almost nobody’s seen it yet. But it seems to go down very well, and a few people tell me afterward how much they liked it. So I might do that at my other readings, too. I just have to hope my editor doesn’t find out and want to know why the hell other people get to hear about it before him.

After the reading, I meet Dennis Widmyer, who runs the Chuck Palahniuk web site The Cult (and who read an early draft of Company for me, several years back). I’ve lost track of the number of people who have told me at book signings that they first heard about me at that site, so I probably owe Dennis half my royalties or something. Instead I buy him a hot chocolate. Really, it is a very nice hot chocolate.

And then back to my hotel. I’ve noticed that this tour seems to have a much easier pace than the hardback one. There’s almost no media by comparison, so I have time to do things like eat and check my email. Man, that’s pretty sweet. The last thing I do on Sunday is settle down to call Jen and Fin. It turns out that Fin has just woken from her afternoon snooze in a foul mood and is screaming the house down. Yikes. When I put the phone down on her howls, I get into bed and watch a video clip I took before I left where she’s all smiley and gorgeous. Ahhh. Bliss.

Yep. Not too bad, this trip.

Comments

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Joscelyn (#754)

Location: California,USA
Posted: 2744 days ago

Glad to hear you haveing a better experience even if is slightly more expensenive. however I am still quite upset that you wont actually be in San Francisco, too late to get it changed?

Rod McBride (#688)

Location: Gardner, KS
Quote: "www.MidwestRockLobster.blogspot.com"
Posted: 2744 days ago

Well, number me among those who first heard of Max Barry at the Cult.

Other than that, yeah, dig the book tour gig. You're in a sphere most of us only see in masturbatatory flashes.

And if your publisher is sending you to the same cities 'again' and you want a change, tell them. Bitches, send me to Kansas City, there's an audience there. Trust me, Sedaris sells out large venues at $25 per ass-in-seat, I'll be golden there!

Dead (#724)

Location: Ipswich, Australia
Quote: "5'4" and bulletproof."
Posted: 2744 days ago

It would've wanted to be the best oatmeal in the world, served on a platter of gold with elixir of life diluted in the milk.

Andrew (#1279)

Location: Texas
Posted: 2744 days ago

I am still upset your not coming to San Antonio,Texas (one of the largest cities in U.S.A)

Rene (#2458)

Location: Austria
Quote: "To live is to die - Cliff Burton"
Posted: 2744 days ago

So, when are you coming to Austria on a book-tour? Just been to Jeffery Deaver's reading/signing last week, so the language is not the problem...

Melissa (#888)

Location: WI
Quote: "When you can't run anymore, you crawl, and when you can't do that, you find someone to carry you."
Posted: 2744 days ago

You know what sucks? I used to live in Kenosha, which is right between Milwaukee and Chicago...and I moved to Arkansas, right after you announced your tour...

Grrr...very grrr...

But I hope your having fun, and good luck with the rest of your trip here in the states, and I hope that you don't pay that much for oatmeal again.

towr (#1914)

Location: Netherlands
Posted: 2744 days ago

Wow, for that price I hope your oatmeal came with golden syrup, made from real gold. At the very least I hope you stole the spoon.

Justin (#2009)

Location: Halfmoon, NY
Quote: "Max(x) is awesome!"
Posted: 2744 days ago

Damn... If I had known that you'd be reading excerpts of a new book that doesn't even exist yet, I'd probably have tried to figure out a way to get to the nearest reading, which, at this point, is probably a good 15 hour drive away... Oh well... I'll catch ya on that tour.

Kindnessia the Second (#2974)

Location: Somewhere, NH
Quote: "There are no wild cows, except in Texas, where they walk on two legs."
Posted: 2743 days ago

Sitting and talking about books sounds awesome (or as we say in New England, "wicked" awesome.) I envy you for having not one, but two screenwriters making screenplays of your books. Cool.

Blackavar (#1178)

Location: Florida, USA (Sweaty. -.-;)
Quote: "Foreplay isn't in the bullfrogs like it used to be."
Posted: 2742 days ago

Yes. I do want to leave a comment. Thanks for asking. :)

Umm, oh yeah. Wanna know how I found out about you, Max? I closed my eyes and yanked a book off of a shelf and it was Jennifer Government! ...Okay, not quite so dramatic. I just saw the cover, and I thought "Hey, why not? I've got bucks to spare."

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