The Inside Straight signing at Page One Books was a smashing success.Seven-ninths of the contributors were on hand to sign many copies of the newest Wild Cards novel: George R. R. Martin, Melinda Snodgrass, Daniel Abraham, Carrie Vaughn, Caroline Spector, John Jos. Miller, and me.
I was utterly unprepared for the size of the audience. The store had room for about 20 chairs directly in front of the two long tables where we sat. That wasn’t nearly enough. We had a standing-room-only crowd that spilled over into the cafe area and the surrounding store– I estimated about a hundred people in attendance. Wow. When GRRM and Carrie Vaughn allow their reality-distortion fields to overlap, the results can be pretty amazing.
We started off with George making a few remarks about the Wild Cards series in general, and about Inside Straight in particular. Then the rest of us spoke a bit about our experiences with Wild Cards and our characters in the new book, followed by some Q & A. I’m disappointed with myself. I’m usually a pretty good public speaker, but the size of this crowd knocked me off balance. I was fairly shy and probably inarticulate, too. And George somehow talked me into doing a little imitation of my Inside Straight character, Rustbelt. I swear that had to be the reality-distortion field at work, because that’s not something I’d ever do in front of so many people. Partially because I’m such an introvert, but mainly because the imitation really isn’t that funny. But George gets a kick out of it.
We also got to plug our own writing projects, which was terrific. I described The Milkweed Triptych as a “science-fantasy secret history of World War II and the Cold War, featuring spies, demons, superpowers, and one seriously messed-up little gypsy girl.” I guess that was a satisfactory description; PNH, lurking at the back of the crowd in a Soviet-bloc looking trench coat, looked pleased. George, Melinda, and Daniel all waxed enthusiastic about the project, too. That felt terrific. Several people later asked me about Milkweed, mentioning how interesting it sounded and that they were looking forward to seeing it. That made me happy.
Once the actual signing started, the line stretched through the cafe and wound through the bookshelves for a while. We had a little production line going. First Daniel, then me, then Melinda, then George, then Caroline, then John, and finally Carrie at the end. For a while there I was signing books as fast as Daniel handed them to me, and sliding them over to Melinda as quickly as I could. I’m told we signed approximately 75 or 80 newly-purchased copies. We also signed all of the store’s remaining stock as well as copies for the charity auction at this summer’s Bubonicon. All together we signed about 200 books. The growing pile of finished books threatened to topple over and crush Carrie.
A few people brought other things to be signed. George, of course, signed more than a few Ice and Fire books. He and Daniel also signed a few copies of Hunter’s Run. Daniel signed quite a few copies of A Shadow in Summer and A Betrayal in Winter, and I can’t imagine how many Kitty books Carrie signed yesterday. And there were Wild Cards books aplenty, too. One person showed up with the entire series, all 18 books to date. Wow.
There were a couple of glitches… I wasn’t listed among the Inside Straight authors on the in-store advertisements. The flyers did list Michael Cassutt and the mysterious S. L. Farrell, neither of whom were present for the signing. I wasn’t very upset about this, though some other folks were. The store manager apologized profusely to me. These things happen; I wasn’t about to throw a screaming glamor fit about it.
And somehow we ended up with far more chocolate than we needed, because Melinda also brought sweets. Surprisingly few people took the goodies, even when we begged them. Hmmm. Patricia Rogers brought some delicious homemade brownies for us, and I have to say they put the store-bought stuff to shame. If it hadn’t been for Pat, I wouldn’t have had anything to eat all day until the launch party/dinner/mill-&-swill after the signing.
Kay throws a wonderful party. I ate, and laughed, and ate, and laughed.
All in all, a good day.
Update: Wednesday, February 6
Steven Gould, (author of one my all-time favorite novels, Jumper, which is very soon to be a Major Motion Picture!) came to the signing and took a few photos of the entire Wild Cards crew in attendance. Unfortunately, Steve’s wife Laura Mixon is missing from this photo.
There are also some photos of the Inside Straight crew by itself, but they’re even more unflattering, so I’m not linking to them.