Friday, 4 March 2011

I’ve never lost an author on a book tour. Except that one time…

I was in the process of creating a list of “my favourite books of all time” (for all my new best friends who read my blog) and as I mentally added Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt to the list, I was reminded of one of my publicity horror stories.

In 2005 I was working for Penguin Group (Canada). That fall we had a record number of authors attending the Harbourfront International Festival of Authors.

It was very exciting when John Berendt agreed to come to Toronto for the festival. His new book at that time was The City of Falling Angels (look it up it is good).  We begged Penguin US to add Toronto to his massive US tour and his US publicist made it happen.

We were thrilled. There was a Globe & Mail interview. The event was a success. John Berendt was charming and funny. A wonderful man.

The morning after his festival event we were having breakfast in the hotel lobby at the Westin Harbor Castle when the festival organizers called to let me know that John Berendt’s car to the airport had arrived.

We grabbed his bags, I got a nice thank you and a warm hug and John leapt into a van in the hotel parking lot.

Half an hour later I got second call from the festival office.  John's car to the airport was still waiting. They were wondering where the heck he was and they were nervous he would miss his flight back to New York.  

Apparently the van he'd leapt into was not the one arranged by the festival and at this point I had no idea who he was with and where they were taking him.

On the way back to the Penguin office my manager assured me it would all work out.

“I’m sure that John Berendt is probably half way to Montreal by now and if we’re lucky we’ll have the ransom note by the time we get back to the office”. 

(They say that as a book publicist you are only as good as your last author tour….)

I was not looking forward to my conversation with his US publicist. (I guess this means no Madonna stop in Toronto?)

I left her a message. A few hours went by, and still no word from John Berendt or possible kidnappers.

Finally I heard that John had a lovely time in Toronto. He arrived in New York and was on his way home.

WHEW. What a relief. AND he didn’t rat me out. Thank you John Berendt! When he submitted his author tour expenses he noted that the receipt for the car to the airport in Toronto was on the way. 

It never arrived though….

Note: I recently said I’d be doing more reading and less blogging, but I’m finding the blogging thing totally addictive. And I know that at the very least, my mother, brother (an aspiring novelist) and husband will read every post.

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