This past week, Mysterious Galaxy bookstore hosted the launch of my new novel, The Burning Ground. At a time when so many bookstores, independents and chains alike, are closing their doors, this specialty shop (science fiction, fantasy, horror, mysteries, thrillers), an icon in San Diego for nearly two decades, added a second store in Redondo Beach, near Los Angeles, last year. I guess they’re doing something right.
MG also hosted the launch for Fire Dance, my last novel, a year ago almost to the day. As that event unfolded, it occurred to me that MG had me in to do a book signing for my previous novel, The 22nd Gear, a satirical science fiction novel and the third in a series. I had to think about that one for a minute. How come?
Because that event happened in 1994.
You’re right, that was a long, long time ago. Mysterious Galaxy was in its fledgling period, while I had come to the end of the publishing line—or so I thought—with the release of my nineteenth novel. So it’s nice to know that, in 2012, both of us are still going strong, and we just picked up where we left off. I’m looking forward to many book launches to come.
I gave a talk at last year’s book launch, one that I repeated shortly afterward as keynote speaker at the Southern California Writers’ Conference. In explaining why I stopped writing at that time, I included a variation on a song that you likely know well: Don McLean’s American Pie. I thought you might like to “hear” it. (I recited it for my audiences; my singing voice would make you lose your lunch.)
A long, long time ago,
I can still remember when
the book signings used to make me smile.
And I knew if I had the chance,
that I could make the readers (fire) dance,
and maybe they’d be happy for a while.
But the publishing business made me shiver,
with every rejection they’d deliver.
Bad news on the doorstep,
I couldn’t take one more step.
I can’t remember if I cried,
but I really took a hit to my pride,
and something hurt me deep inside,
the day my writing died.
So long live writers, long live writing, and long live real bookstores. I don’t know how long they’ll be around, but for now, I’m glad they are.
And ditto for libraries. In The Burning Ground, town librarian Dana Bowen is walking down the main street of Lodestar, California and makes an interesting observation about ten-year-old Billy Grider. Here is the scene:
Ahead, Dana saw the Griders in front of Weston’s, loading groceries into the bed of an old, beat-up Ford F-150. Billy Grider loved to read, a fact that had become evident to Dana when the boy started showing up in the library a couple of times a week soon after she’d arrived in Lodestar. Although she’d seldom spoken to him it gratified her to know that, in a world of video games and so many other high-tech electronic distractions, someone his age still held a fascination with the written word.
UPDATE: If you haven’t had a chance to look at the website, Swords and Specters, check it out. I’ll be adding to it often. Right now I’m re-editing one of my early sword & sorcery novels, which I’ll be releasing soon as The Sons of Ornon. Zebra/Kensington published it a long time ago as The Twentieth Son of Ornon. I liked the story enough to dedicate it to my favorite writer, Edgar Rice Burroughs. (For this version, the dedication will be to my three granddaughters. They’ll like that.) I’ll tell you more about it in upcoming posts.