Accompanied by Miss Marple (Joan Hickson’s reading of the Tuesday Club Murders), I ventured onto and off of the New Jersey Turnpike. Have I mentioned before that I don’t understand why anyone lives in New York? I’m Southern and small town to the very core of me (politics notwithstanding) and I don’t do urban ever if I can help it–with the exception of London, which is really a bunch of small towns stuck together. Digressing. I made it to Glen Ridge, NJ without too many mishaps and had the great pleasure of staying with my good friend Debbie Galant, author of Rattled and two other fine novels. She has a great old house she shares with Warren Levenson, her AP journalist husband, and two kids who had luckily vacated so that I could take over a bedroom. We share our status as University of Virginia alumnae and also as fans and frequent residents of the Virginia Center for Creative Arts.
Debbie took me to the very fine local independent bookstore, Watchung Booksellers, whose owner had agreed to stock The Algebra of Snow. Hurry over now and you may find a copy or two left, though Debbie had encouraged several of her friends to go buy the book and there might have been a run!
After dining, ice creaming, visiting with more friends and with Warren, I slept deeply, even that close to a big city, and left the next morning for my trial–getting past NYC. I won’t go into the excruciating details–anyone who lives there does this practically daily, though, as I said, I have no idea why. Lower the veil. Afterwards, I was zinging along on the Long Island Expressway. You’ll notice that the GPS hadn’t failed me in a while–it was just saving up.
Have you ever had an agent? Have you had one you truly loved? Kay Kidde of Hoyt, Kidde and Picard was one of my early agents and I love her. I mean really love her. She would send me the rejection letters for my second novel, The Body of Summer, with comments in the margin, like, and I quote, “Damn it, why can’t they see how great this book is?” She is gravel-voiced, entirely a New Yorker, and, sadly for me, retired. I even went into NYC one time just to meet her. And it was worth it. Imagine how much more worth it it was to meet her at her beach club in Westhampton and spend the afternoon lunching (she ate a hot dog) and then lounging on the beach while we told stories about our families.
I really want to make this clear: some people may go on book tours where they are whizzed around in limos and see millions of their books fly off the shelves. But, for me, it really gets no better than this. A day on the beach with one of the world’s great characters who is luckily a friend of mine talking books and, as they say of telling family stories in Texas, swapping lies.
And then the GPS took possession. It took me, in my state of relaxed joyfulness, and, instead of aiming me due north to the ferry across to Connecticut, on which I HAD A RESERVATION, it took me–you guessed it–STRAIGHT BACK TO NEW YORK CITY.