Home again, home again

At some point I will post some sort of complete report on my World of Trouble book tour, which I kept forgetting to officially call the Trouble Man World Tour, and now it’s too late.

For now I’ll just say I met a lot of terrific people, including a lot of Detective Henry Palace fans, plus a lot of smart and enthusiastic booksellers (and librarians!), a healthy reminder of how important it is to have an active (and interactive) “book culture,” in which real humans recommend books to each other, drink wine together and talk about the books they loved, go see authors and ask them questions, and all of that great stuff.

I also had dinner with some librarians at a Ukrainian restaurant in Cleveland, and I just wanted to write that because originality is important to me, and I doubt anyone has ever written those words in that order before.

 

Continue Reading

The Trouble Begins

I, for one, had a heck of a time at IndyReads Books today, where my World of Trouble book tour kicked off in grand style.

IMG_4748
Spieling.

The best part was NOT the fact that the book officially went on sale (at IndyReads only: the rest of the universe must wait till the pub. date on Tuesday); the best part was NOT that I gave out fake mustaches and Hank Palace Blend Coffee Beans (from White Mountain Gourmet Coffee in Concord, NH) to audience members who correctly answered Last Policeman trivia; the best part was DEFINITELY not my stumbling through “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” on my ukulele.

The best part was how many wonderful friends and fans came out, on a rainy Saturday afternoon, for a literary event, to celebrate books and bookstores and my book in particular. What a terrific way to start the tour. If you were with us today in Indianapolis, please send me your pictures so I can add them to these here (taken by my wife, Diana); if you know folks in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Petoskey, Michigan; or any of the other places I’ll be in the next couple weeks, please spread the word. I have many more mustaches and bags of coffee to give away!

IMG_4751
Signing.


Continue Reading

Not your average book tour!

trouble
My new book.

The Reverse Blog Tour will continue on Monday with a guest post from the mysterious Hooded Utilitarian, but I wanted meanwhile to fill you in on my very special, not-your-average book tour, which will take me to some great bookstores all through the month of July.

I am going to do all the usual author-visit stuff, but (like a good mystery writer) I’ll be adding a couple of surprise twists.

ukulele
My ukulele.

Here’s the pitch…

Join author and raconteur Ben H. Winters to celebrate the release of World of Trouble, the concluding volume in the Edgar-award-winning Last Policeman trilogy. Ben is so excited to come and meet readers, he will do not only the the usual book tour activities (read from the new book, sign books, answer reader questions), he will also…

* Deliver his Patented Rapid-Fire Five-Minute History of Crime Fiction, and give out his top secret list of Ten Crime Novels Every Human Must Read

* play Mystery Trivia with the audience, and give away fabulous prizes—like signed manuscript pages and novelty Detective-Palace-style mustaches! 

* Play a medley on his ukulele of every single Bob Dylan song mentioned in the Last Policeman trilogy! 

First stop is Indianapolis on July 12: see you there!

 
Continue Reading

Mystery writing / writing is a mystery

This is a very short blog entry that is really just to share one thing with you.

I’ve been doing research on the author Richard Price because on Thursday night I’m teaching his book (masterpiece, if you ask me) Clockers for my mystery fiction class at Butler.

images

I found this quote in an interview with him and it just about knocked my head off. One of the great true things I’ve heard said about writing…

“I have to be a little intimidated by what I’m writing about. I have to feel a little bit like I don’t think I can do this, I don’t think I can master this, I don’t think I can get under the skin of this, because when you’re a little scared, you’re bringing everything to the table because you’re not sure you can do it unless you bust your balls and really, really get into it. Terror keeps you slender. I need a sense of awe.”

That’s probably true of all art forms, and maybe all things that require effort to yield something complex and complete: “when you’re a little scared, you’re bringing everything to the table.”

In other words, when it’s hard you know you’re doing it right.

Can you tell I’m working out the idea for a new book? Can you tell it’s making me feel various complicated emotions, ranging from joy to terror?

The other thing that happened today was that I had a call with the marketing department at Quirk Books (or as I like to call her, Nicole) to discuss this summer’s little book tour in support of World of Trouble: The Last Policeman Book III. We’ll be announcing all the dates soon.

 

 

Continue Reading

Countdown Cities

The Countdown City book tour, just concluded, was my first time doing a book tour of any sort, and I found the experience to be exhilarating, exhausting, ego-boosting, mortifying, boring, joyful, all sorts of different things. It was definitely mostly a positive experience, and even the negative aspects—I’m not the best traveler, for one thing, and not all of the events were jam-packed, which can be anxiety-provoking—even with those negatives, it’s the sort of life experience (much like publishing a book in the first place) that for such a long time seemed completely unattainable, that I’d be a fool to  dwell on the negatives. A book tour! Holy moly! You dig what I’m saying?

 

images-1Highlights include watching the Ben Stiller/Vince Vaughn movie The Watch, late at night in my Portland hotel room, abiding by the universal law that demands that one must watch a shitty comedy that one would not normally watch, when alone in a hotel room late at night. Although, you know what? It wasn’t half bad—although not nearly as good as the cup of Stumptown coffee I had the next morning, at 5:45, when I woke up and wandered around the city, taking advantage of being on East Coast time, internally, to get an eyeful of a beautiful place.

 

Most of the highlights, though, are from the bookstores, themselves; which, just by the way, all seem to be doing amazingly. Powell’s in Portland was packed with shoppers.  Eliot Bay, in Seattle, has this gorgeous space in a super hip and bustling neighborhood, where I ate artisanal ice cream served by hipsters, and briefly fantasized that I had moved back to Brooklyn. Gibson’s, in my beloved Concord, New Hampshire, is in the process of expanding to a bigger space.

So, all of which is to say that the death of independent booksellers, at least in my very limited sample, has been greatly exaggerated. And thank you to all the super-nice store owners and store clerks…especially at Anderson’s, in Naperville, where store policy is to give one free book to every visiting author—a policy I ruthlessly exploited by getting the new fourth volume in Robert Caro’s massive, and expensive, multivolume biography of LBJ.

151-460x307

While I’m thanking people: thank you, Patrick, the kid in Cincinnati to whom I hand sold a copy of The Last Policeman while he was getting coffee and I was working on book three in the trilogy at the Joseph-Beth cafe before my reading. Good luck at college, Patrick, and I think things will work out with your girlfriend, even though she lives in Texas.

 

Thanks to the family of five who came to see me in Seattle because mom liked Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, but who ended up buying copies of Policeman and Countdown City AND my middle-grade mysteries for their charming nine year old. Dig it, big sister.

Thanks to basically everybody in the city of Concord, New Hampshire, where I got to read at the great Gibson’s, eat at the Corner View Restaurant (the model for the Somerset Diner, in the books), and talk on the radio with Brady Carlson at the local public radio station, who plays with his little boy in West Park, the playground where McConnell chases down the smirking kid and yells “stop, motherfucker” in The Last Policeman.

And yes, I did go to the McDonald’s and use the bathroom where Peter Zell’s body was found. I didn’t intend to, I just had to go and I remembered it was there.

Gibson's

But now I’m home, where my family is, and where I have a lot of work left to do on The Last Policeman book III (as yet untitled, so don’t ask—seriously, don’t, I’m really anxious about it.). This fall I’m going to be popping up here and there here at home in Indianapolis—at the fall book festival, at a Butler University charity event called the Harvest of Writers, and a couple other things. So if you’re in Indy, come say hi. If you’re not, hope to see you next summer.

Continue Reading