HELLHOLE Tour Day 5—San Francisco

After yesterday’s overnight trip on the Amtrak from Portland down to San Francisco, I awoke surprisingly refreshed.  I don’t usually sleep well on the train (with the jerking and lurching it’s like someone constantly shaking you awake).  Brian and I each had cramped sleeper compartments (I think they’re called “cozy”) with a little table and a bench seat, and a private coffin-sized bathroom cubicle about half the size of an airplane toilet.  But the train took us where we needed to go.  We were pulling into Sacramento when I woke up, with rain sheeting the window.  Two hours to our destination.  As the train started rolling again, I had the challenging (some might say entertaining) experience of taking a shower in the coffin-sized toilet cubicle that doubles as a shower, once the toilet lid is sealed.

I had written some more Roswell Six/Terra Incognita lyrics the night before, and now I added a few lines, ate an orange and a Clif Bar for breakfast, phoned our San Francisco-area author escort to confirm where we were meeting her and to let her know the train was on time (actually quite a miracle; we have been as much as 14 hours late before).

Still pouring rain when Brian and I hauled our luggage out of the train station to the car where we met Martha, our driver.  Martha had warned us we were going immediately to several dropby signings, so we had to be dressed in our “author clothes” and ready to go s soon as we got off the train.  She drove us down the peninsula and then back up to the city, got a sandwich at one of Brian’s favorite delis, Molinari’s, and then we had 25 minutes to check into the hotel, drop off our stuff, eat the sandwich, then meet the car again to go to one more dropby signing in the Haight District before our appearance at Borderlands Books.

Brian’s nephew Byron Merritt, who runs the dunenovels.com website, drove up from Monterey to meet us at the hotel and spend the rest of the day with us.  We all drove to the dropby signing and then to Borderlands. Along the way, Brian pointed out landmarks and told stories about growing up in San Francisco, how he and his family had lived in a very poor part of town, but he would come up to the fancy hotels with a shoe-shine box he had made himself, where he’d wait outside to hawk spit-shines to the businessmen leaving the hotels.  (He didn’t have to do that this time.)

“Please Don’t Send Me to HELLHOLE”
Dunenovels.com website administrator Byron Merritt

We’ve been good friends of Alan Beatts and Jude Feldman from Borderlands for many years.  During our last signing appearance there, for Paul of Dune, the bookstore had recently obtained the unit next door and were in the process of remodeling it into a café; now the remodeling is all finished and the café was so crowded with a constant flow of customers that Alan couldn’t tear himself away (we had to make a special trip over there to say Hi.)

Carrie and Jude from Borderlands Books

Again, the crowd was as large as we usually get even for our Dune novels, including some friends from my old stomping grounds of Livermore, Special Forces members Shannon Preto and George Rivera (I was very sorry to miss my dear friend Deb Ray, president of my fan club, who was feeling ill that day.)  We gave our talk, answered questions, signed books, and as we were getting ready to leave, my writer/musician friends Jeff and Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff came in to set up; their band was playing at Borderlands that evening.

Afterward, Brian, Byron, and I had a fine seafood dinner at Scoma’s near Fisherman’s Wharf, and then back to the hotel for our early departure the next morning, 7 AM for both of us; Brian is taking the all-day train down, but I am in the San Francisco airport right now to catch a quick flight, so I can have a lunch meeting with one of my LA friends.  We lightened our suitcases significantly by giving Byron all the stacks of signed bookplates we had done over the past few days.  Byron, along with Brian’s daughter Kim, will have a table at Wondercon in San Francisco, and they will give out the bookplates to fans.

Our two upcoming LA-area signings on Monday and Tuesday are:

Monday, March 21—7 pm

Vroman’s Bookstore
695 East Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91101

Tuesday, March 22—7 pm

Barnes & Noble
7881 Edinger Avenue
Huntington Beach, CA 92647

Since Hellhole’s release on Tuesday, we have hit 37 bookstores for dropby signings, two mail-order stores, and three formal events.  Eleven more days to go.