By Eric D. Goodman
I’m driving along Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles at 3 o’clock in the morning. As my rented little Versa clatters higher and higher up the winding hill, the mist thickens until I can barely see three feet in front of me. The beams of my brights reflect off the fog and cast more light into my eyes than onto the road ahead. Creeping along at 15 miles per hour, I reach the top, let off the gas, and begin to coast down the twisting road. I’m probably going too fast, but I want to harness the downhill momentum, having left my hybrid back home in Baltimore. At 50 MPH and with visibility low, I decide to tap the breaks until I’m crawling along at a safer speed of 10. It is then that I see them: two coyotes ambling across the road. They stop and look at me; they seem to be smiling. I brake so I can stare at them, but in an instant, they’re gone.
So begins my California adventure.
I took a red-eye and arrived at LAX at one in the morning, picked up my rental at 1:45, and was on the road by two. My hosts in San Diego aren’t expecting me until around six a.m. and I don’t want to be there earlier than that. What better way to kill the time than a cruise along Mulholland Drive—even the sections that say they are closed to pass-through traffic?
Half an hour’s drive and a doughnut and coffee shop stop later, I’m on the road to San Diego. The night is a cool 50 degrees, the windows are down, and the radio is on. I don’t have a reading down south—my first is in LA in a few days—but I have friends to visit and things to see in San Diego.
Book Events are like Off-Road Races
I’m in California for the west coast leg of my book tour. I’m spreading the word about Tracks: A Novel in Stories, published by Atticus Books—and winner of the 2012 Gold Medal for Best Fiction in the Mid-Atlantic Region from the Independent Publisher Book Awards. I have four readings and a few related meetings over the course of two weeks. The book tour is both my reason for being here and an excuse to be here.
I left my family in the hot humidity of Baltimore the day after Father’s Day. On Father’s Day, my 7-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter presented me with an appropriate gift: a beautiful, marble and silver signing pen.
“It’s to sign books,” Nicole said.
“So you’ll remember us when you’re in California,” Alex added.
I’m carrying the pen in my pocket now. It’s not just for signing books. I use it to write directions, take notes, to write in general. It has other uses too. For example, it works great for cutting the paper seal on a bottle of Wild Turkey. And you can point with it.
This point is probably already obvious: to say I’m writing about a book tour is like saying Hunter S. Thompson wrote a book about an off-road desert race called the Mint 400. The results of the race and book events are one thing. The story is in the time and people and places surrounding the subject.