Archive for May, 2010

life de luxe

May 29, 2010


I’m now at the Hotel Biltmore in Phoenix. My rooms (and I mean rooms – even my bathroom has rooms!) have two plasma TVs, two sundecks.

Here’s the proof of the plasmas –

(You can see the front one in the bedroom and the other one in the living room area behind)

It’s a taxi ride just to reach the edge of the hotel grounds. Everything in Phoenix is unbelievably spread out. I ordered some milk when I arrived, evening before yesterday, and a two litre bottle arrived in an ice bucket at a cost of US$22. It hurt, even though it all goes on expenses. Ronald and Nancy Reagan, and Clark Gable and Carol Lombard honeymooned here – but they tell me it’s gone upmarket since then …

Here’s the particular wing I live in>Naturally we have our own courtyard, swimming pool and spa –

I’ve since set myself up with a couple of bottles of red wine (I’m impressed by Californian wine, Trent – still loyal to Australian, but this stuff is good and cheap – from the supermarket), sourdough bread, provolone and ham – now I can nibble lunch on (one of my) my sundeck(s) without having to walk all the way to the hotel’s various restaurants. I feel like Crocodile Dundee – I want to make a little camp in one corner of my main living area, light a fire and feel all cosy!

My first evening in Phoenix was a book reading and signing – supported by the Brose Brothers as my backing act. Unbelievable steampunk costumes, as good as I’ve ever seen anywhere, and they’ve been dressing up steampunk style since way back, long before it became a fashion. Phoenix is not the obvious home of steampunk, but these guys were sensational.

Yesterday I did a school visit to Magnet Traditional School. Talking to large audiences, I’m having to get used to doing readings with a mike. One great thing about American students – they’re never backward in asking questions!

In San Fran, first school visit

May 26, 2010

Did a bookshop panel followed by a reading yesterday evening, at the legendary Mysterious Galaxies bookshop in San Diego. Great guys there, who really know their SF/fantasy.

(Me in my steampunk cap, Megan alongside)

Then dinner with Larry, who’s been escorting me round for Simon & Schuster. Had my first Californian wine – have to admit, pretty good. (Not that I’m going to back down on the supremacy of Australian wine in a hurry!)

Had to get up at 4.45 am this morning – blurgh! Made it to the airport, caught my flight to San Farancisco, met uyp with my San Fran escort, Frank – but it was all a blur until I got to the school I was visiting, in Berkeley. Very different to any Australian school. I did a presentation that tied in with their career day (writing as a career? you’d have to be mad … but I talked about how very very fulfilling it is – especially when you’ve just written WORLDSHAKER!)

I’m now in San Francisco near Union Square – just a couple of blocks away from where I stayed 2 years ago. A hotel with great character – the Rex. A long soaking bath to wash away the weariness, then maybe I’ll go out seeking further experimentation with Californian wine.

First Reading and Signing, and polar bears

May 25, 2010

Third day in the States. Yesterday I went round the USS Midway – huge decommissioned aircraft carrier. Big navy vessels send a shiver down my back – even though none of them match up to juggernaut size. But down in the tiny bunkrooms, in among the engines and machinery and wiring – it all had the juggernaut feeling. Plus that unmistakeable smell of lead paint. I have photos, but using hotel computers, I haven’t found a way to post them on this blog yet.

Now I have – here’s a glimpse of the Midway —————

Last night I did my first reading and signing at the San Diego Borders. Vast store – and to start with, a small audience. I was nervous until I got going. Then I did my readings at full store-filling volume, and suddenly the audience grew much bigger. Sold and signed a fair few copies, and gained some good friends, including the store manager.

I’ll be more confident next time. I guess you always wonder how you’re going to measure up in America … so far so good.

Today, I had the morning and afternoon off – went to the San Diego zoo, which is the biggest in the US. Highlight was a polar bear, so cute. Eating his/her vegetables, then playing with a ball underwater – bouncing it against the glass. What a show-off!

Tonight’s event is a panel at Mysterious Galaxies.  Cheers,   R

Living the US life

May 24, 2010

Hi! Just a quick blogette – nothing much has happened. I feel I’m settling in to the States – I’ve got my cell phone (I don’t even think ‘mobile’ any more), my Ralph’s discount card, etc etc. I foresee a major conflict looming between the American habit of serving food in huge sized portions, and my deeply ingrained training of never leaving anything on my plate. This could mean problems.

This afternoon I’m going visiting the USS Midway, a de-comissioned aircraft carrier you can walk around. It’ll be my first visit to an aircraft carrier since the one in Plymouth (UK) when I was 6 or 7 – when I freaked out with claustrophobia or something. Not this time!

Cheers,   R

San Diego by Amtrak

May 24, 2010

Now in San Diego, next to the Mexican border. I travelled by Amtrak – always wanted to see what that was like. It was like a plane flight, reclining seats on the upper level, with wine and snack served. And just like the movies – a conductor clipped everyone’s ticket and stuck it in a little clip above one’s seat.

I love finding out the differences in different countries. Catching the train was weird in itself. Passengers had to line up in front of Gate E, which was a gate to nowhere, just lobby on either side. Then an Amtrak official came along and told us Track 11 and weall hurried along a cavernous hall until we reached platform 11.

Seems like lotus eating land at the moment – I haven’t done anything that could be called work yet. That starts tomorrow evening. Until then, I’ll just enjoy!



Blogging the OS tours!

May 18, 2010
22nd May
Here I am, in West Hollywood! A bit of luxury after the long endurance of the flight. I had to transit in Fiji, and got a full body search for my troubles. On the Fiji-LA leg, I discovered I was in a seat next to a woman who started coughing – ‘I’m going to be like this the whole way,’ she warned me, and she was right. Every 10 seconds, cough, cough, snort, splutter, cough, cough. In the end I escaped and found probably the only empty seat on the plane – except it wasn’t. I was between an old Fijian guy and a young guy who must’ve been his nephew or something – and a steward told me later, the old guy was actually one of the wealthiest businesmen in Fiji – business class had been full, so he’d booked 3 economy seats side by side. So I unintentionally took the middle one.
But he was real nice about it, no problem And the special service he got from all the stewards and stewardesses sort of came my way too.
Tonight, I plan on having a long long LONG sleep.
21st May
Here it is, the last post from Australia. TRAA-RAAAH!
All going well – except the weekend trains to the airport, normally very handy from where I live, are totally stuffed up with trackwork, so not handy at all. Aileen will drive me in instead.
Aileen’s birthday falls round about the time when I’m travelling (Icelandic volcanoes willing) from New York to London, so we’ll be do birthday dinner out and birthday presents tonight. I’m trusting that nothing desperately last-minute-y comes up, because there won’t be any time much tomorrow morning.
Here’s a photo of my suitcase. Looks so small and innocent, doesn’t it? But it weighs a ton – exactly 23 kilos now.
Wish me luck! This should be fun! Next post will be from the US of A.

Just discovered what I was doing wrong before – setting up new pages when I should’ve been adding posts. So I’ve put in the last 2 posts below …

20th May

Today, the preliminary packing. Collection of items to pack, ironing clothes, folding clothes, putting everything into the suitcase and weighing. Why are they so mean with baggage allowances? My main suitcase came in just under 23 kilos, my carry-on case weighted exactly 7. It’s those wheels – half the weight is the weight of frame and wheels.

OK, so I can fly to the States with that, then maybe lose a kilo from the carry-on luggage for the flight from New York to London (allowance 6 kilos). But coming back with Malaysia Airlines – they only allow 20 kilos of checked luggage and 5 (five!) kilos of carry-on. I’m going to have to shed things along the way – shed and definitely not accumulate. Where does the weight come from?

Hmm … I remember asking that same question apropos of something else. But I reckon I’m shedding personal kilos with all this packing business. Can’t wait to just get over there and start touring.

Here’s a mystery – why do trains in the UK alternative between cheap and dear prices? First a cheap one, then a dear one, then a cheap one, then a dear one … and so on all through the day. What’s the explanation?

Time to watch the telly, veg out and unstress for a while …

19th May

Today was the day of collecting stuff to pack and discovering what I haven’t got. Not much, it turns out. I’ve sorted out my pharmacology, my socks, my underwear … okay, that’s probably all you need/want to know. I’ve arranged to meet up with Ian Miller in Brighton at the end of the UK tour – he did the cover for the British version of WORLDSHAKER, and he’s absolutely my favourite SF/fantasy illustrator of all time. I’m expecting an evening of organic cider – if it lives up to his claims, my health will be perfect for the next 20 years.

Meanwhile, Aileen and I have been booking hotels for that last part of the trip after the tours are over. Here’s Aileen getting ready for the glamorous life –

Turns out that the offices of my French publisher in Paris are in the Latin Quarter v close to a flea-bitten hotel where I used to live when I sold newspapers (Herald Tribunes) to American tourists in Paris. The area must’ve changed – from bohemian to upmarket and ultra-fashionable – but maybe I can find the soup kitchen where I used to eat (well, a charitable institution serving cheap meals to the down and out!), the bars where we used to drink and argue, the bookshop where we used to lounge around reading entire books.

Ah, strange times, exotic memories. Right now, present reality is calling me back to sewing trouser cuffs that have come unstitched. (One of the things about glamorous wives is you have to do your own sewing …)

18th May

I’m now starting this blog up seriously – for my 2 weeks WORLDSHAKER tour in the US, then another 2 weeks tour in the UK. Then a bit of holidaying, visiting my French publisher, etc. I’ll try to write something in this blog every day, even if it’s just an exhausted babble …

I fly off in just 4 days time! Agggh! So much preparing and packing still to do. Why do I always leave things till the last moment? Maybe it’s what I do in my novels – must remember that real life doesn’t need to be so stressful!

I just rang up Icelandair – guess who booked their flight from New York to London going by way of Iceland? But they said, not to worry, there’s far less problem over Iceland than there is over the rest of Europe. Smart people, Icelanders – they know the way the wind blows!

Now i think I’ll just go off and have another panic attack followed by a packing attack.