MaxBarry.com
writes things for cash

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

Sat 31
Mar
2007

Travel Diary: Day #7 (Chicago, Austin)

Writing I love my breakfasts. But when I’m at home, I don’t usually get to them until late—11 or 12, if I’m writing. (Some writers drink. Some do drugs. I find creativity via coffee on an empty stomach.) And I eat cereal. Or oatmeal/porridge. Milk should always be somehow involved with breakfast, I feel. The hearty, American-style breakfast of egg and bacon and sausage and hash browns is a little too much for me, especially early. If you ask me, there’s something a little immoral about cooking anything before noon but toast.

This is why I’m having a little difficulty with the hordes of people in line for pizza at 8am at the airport. And “breakfast tacos!” You can’t just put the word “breakfast” in front of something as if that makes it okay! No! There are no breakfast pot roasts, are there? Breakfast buffalo burgers? Breakfast prime rib steak?

It’s raining in Austin. But that’s okay, because I have to stay in and do my washing. Originally, my plan was to have the hotel dryclean some clothes for me. But I’m never long enough in one place for this. So I fill up the bathtub, toss in some soap, and wash a load of shirts and underpants, old-school. Then I wring them out, arrange them on hangers, and distribute them around my hotel room. It really adds something to my luxurious hotel room; a certain third world ambiance.

I call home, and we get the webcam thing happening. Jen puts Fin on her lap, and Fin sees my picture and smiles. I sing nursery rhymes to her through the phone and she grins and claps and says, “More?” when I finish. It’s wonderful. Being able to see them, even in jerky low-resolution, makes me feel much closer to home.

On a geeky note, I’m very pleased with my laptop computer. It’s the first time I’ve left home with a Linux-powered machine (it’s running Ubuntu), and thought I might hit problems trying to hook up with the internet services of various hotels. But nope: everything’s worked perfectly.

Today’s amusing email:

im doing a book report on your book “Jennifer Government” and i need some books that contain information about you as an author. my stupid english teacher insists that i find at least 3 books that contain information about you as an author, even though it seems to be impossible.

i also need to know if you are “respected” as an author in the writing community because it is part of my paper.

please please help me

That’s a good question, whether I am respected. Who knows what those bitchy other authors say about me behind my back?

I wonder if authors ever go on tours together. That would be cool. All this travelling would be more fun if there was somebody else. I should go with Paul Neilan, because I’m recommending his book at every stop. It feels good to recommend Paul’s book here, because back home, every time I tell someone how great it is, I have to add, “But you can’t buy it here.” This makes them disappointed and angry. But it’s not my fault no-one’s published it in Australia. I don’t control the world. But here, at readings I can say, “And it’s available in the US!” Then we all look at the bookstore person, who says, “I don’t think we have that.”

At tonight’s reading, a girl named Jessica asks whether Chuck Palahniuk and I hang out together. She says that she read online that he’s a fan of my work, and I hyperventilate for a few seconds before realizing that she’s confusing Chuck with the webmaster of chuckpalahniuk.net, Dennis. So I guess Chuck won’t be calling up any time soon and asking if I want to come over and shoot some pool, or, you know, murder some puppies or something. Whatever, Chuck. I’d be up for it.

Jessica has an adorable accent and says “y’all.” It’s so strange to hear actual “y’all”s. I kind of assumed they were just in movies and Jerry Springer. For some more local flavor, a guy—I want to say Mike, but my notes aren’t clear, sorry—gives me a “Fightin’ Texas Aggies” T-shirt, from Texas A&M University. He helpfully advises me not to wear it in Austin, though, because it may prompt locals to beat me up. I’m glad he mentioned that. I hope it doesn’t cause any problem with airport security tomorrow.

Comments

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Machine Man subscriber Stygian Emperor (#2947)

Location: Austin, TX
Quote: "Hope is but the first step down the path to disappointment."
Posted: 2725 days ago

Aww, you didn't metion the person filming you during the read. (Or is that a common thing?)

First to get my book signed in Austin, first to comment about it. Excellent.

Tim Ashwood (#595)

Location: Sydney
Posted: 2725 days ago

Max, the best way to dry your clothes are to: 1) lay a towel on the floor and put one article of clothing flat on it, 2) Roll the clothes and towel up, and 3) Stomp on the towel to absorb the excess water. Repeat for each item, and you'll be astounded at how much quicker they dry.

Machine Man subscriber Michael Crider (#3054)

Location: Colorado, United States
Posted: 2725 days ago

Glad to hear that The Exceptionals is close to going to the editor. I loved the bit about murdering puppies.

Thanks and gig 'em, Max.

Machine Man subscriber Ariel (#3057)

Posted: 2725 days ago

I don't think you mentioned Paul Neilan in Madison. Poor us. Actually more like poor Paul, because he's the one who missed out on the free advertisement. Oh well.

And I did a book report on Syrup once. Got an A, too(thanks for writing a good book report book, you got me a good grade). But my teacher wasn't cruel enough to make us get 3 books with information on the author. Otherwise all our reports would have been on Shakespeare and Jane Austen and Mark Twain and Charles Dickens.

Machine Man subscriber Dirty Davey (#2170)

Location: Carrboro, NC
Posted: 2725 days ago

Actually, I have only once been to a reading on a two-author tour. David Rees (of "Get Your War On" fame) was the "opening act", and John Hodgman was the "headliner".

At least I think it was a tour. Might have been a one-shot event.

Phill Sacre (#1822)

Location: London, UK
Quote: "Computers are like air conditioners. Both stop working, if you open windows."
Posted: 2725 days ago

[geek mode]
So, you've started using Ubuntu? Nice - I switched over to it a while ago and haven't looked back since!

Detected my wireless network card without me even having to install any drivers.
[/geek mode]

towr (#1914)

Location: Netherlands
Posted: 2725 days ago

Hmm, seems Paul Neilan's book comes out in paperback in June.. Maybe I'll order it online then.

Yoyodyn (#2480)

Location: TN, USA
Quote: "Yay though I walk through the valley of Gates, I shall fear no Windows."
Posted: 2725 days ago

Actually, there are a lot of breakfast steaks. Especially in texas I would think.

Did you have any weather delays? I was stuck at DFW Friday night for 7 hours in the hopes of getting on a plane as standby.. (which I did)

Machine Man subscriber lauren (#2635)

Location: texas
Quote: "..."
Posted: 2724 days ago

breakfast tacos are a gift from god!

shabooty (#637)

Location: D.C./V.A/M.D.
Quote: "I will shake your foundation. I will shake the f**cking rafters. Nobody'll be the same -Danny Bonaduce ....& go visit my blog @: http://www.shabooty.com"
Posted: 2724 days ago

uhhh what do you do with undies w/ skid marks?
are those salvageable or do you just toss those and get the tour liaison to buy you a fresh pair?
and I imagine aussies wear titie whities... lol...

Ez (#901)

Location: Melbourne
Quote: "Feckitty Bollocks!"
Posted: 2724 days ago

Authors do indeed go touring together. Currently on the prowl together in the US are Kim Harrison and Vicki Pettersson.

Have a lovely day! :-)

Jeffrey (#2286)

Location: Right here
Quote: "Mathematics is a powerful language. Just look at how mathematicians destroyed the housing market."
Posted: 2724 days ago

lol third world ambiance. I love that line.

Machine Man subscriber Ben Finkel (#3058)

Location: Austin, Texas
Posted: 2724 days ago

Amazing to see you, and hear from your next book! I'm so excited, and glad that you enjoyed yourself within our humble city.

Ben

Joe (#2270)

Location: Campbell, CA, USA
Quote: "I'm subverting the system from the inside. I think."
Posted: 2724 days ago

So Max: if you ever write a character who says "y'all", please make sure that he/she only uses the term to refer to more than one person. Actually I'm sure you're clueful enough to get this, but I've seen a surprising number of writers mess this up.

(Oh, and Americans don't say "sacked" to refer to firings and layoffs, but other than that detail Company was great. I just decided Jones was British and then it made sense).

Robert Dlaey (#3060)

Location: Pre-Purgatory
Posted: 2723 days ago

Thanks again for the great reading and q&A session.

I had you sign my book to Austin Community College. Today I donated the book. The librarians were pleased and got a nice feeling.

More people will have a chance to read your wonderful work with the book there than would be able to with it sitting on my shelf.

I miss typed when I signed up. My last name is Daley, not Dlaey.

Best of success on the rest of your tour.

Jennifer M. Dambeck (#3061)

Location: NJ, USA
Quote: "Rock on"
Posted: 2723 days ago

Yeah Linux!!!

I love your work! My (supergeek) husband agrees with you on many topics re: Linux, use of MythTV, etc etc etc. Trying to get him to read your books, hope to see one of your earlier books on the big screen SOON!

I think Jennifer Government will be AWESOME, if only the big companies will have a sense of humor about themselves and see the marketing opportunity of it.

jessica (#3063)

Location: austin, tx
Quote: "You can't start a fire worrying about your little world falling apart."
Posted: 2723 days ago

jerry springer, hmm? i think you forgot about britney spears...'raising kids is hard, y'all.' =)

anyhow, it was such a thrill to have you visit austin and to meet you!!! i look forward to your next visit with your upcoming book!

Colleen Devine (#3062)

Location: Austin, Texas
Quote: "yeah, i work in marketing - what's it to you?"
Posted: 2723 days ago

max - thanks for coming back to austin - happy to know that this time you could tell the men from the women. enjoy the rest of the tour.

colleennn

Richard (#2051)

Location: Boulder, CO
Quote: "...I may not like you, but because some town in Switzerland says so, you have rights!"
Posted: 2722 days ago

Those of us in this part of the US find your accent just as adorable, I'm sure.

Matthew (#1108)

Location: Midwest USA
Quote: "Please don't tell my boss I'm on the Internet."
Posted: 2712 days ago

I really wanted to go see you in Chicago, but it is an 8 hour drive each way, and I had to work at my "company." But thank for writing another book. I have a copy and look forward to reading it.
-Peace

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