A Brand New Novel
Josephine Baker, the early-20th-century African-American dancer, comic, and singer–hugely famous in Paris. Did you know that she was also a spy for the French Resistance during WWII?
Fresh back from New York and Book Expo America ’09, and I am still feeling excited over the response to “The Jewel of Medina” and its sequel, “The Sword of Medina.”
I connected at last with readers there, including librarians, bookstore owners, book lovers, and media people, who lined up — against my expectations — for all the advance reading copies of “Sword” that Beaufort had produced. I felt fortunate to score one for myself, and I felt bad for those who had to be turned away because we’d run out. If anyone knows what it’s like to be late, it’s me, the night person who hates to get up early, the slow dresser, the one whose separation anxiety pulls her back to her house at least three times every time she tries to go anywhere. Of course, it wasn’t my fault that we missed our connecting flight and arrived in New York too late for the Galley Cat author’s party, but I shed tears, anyway, of sheer disappointment. Getting to see editor Ron Hogan the next evening made me feel better — at the Overlook Press party in the Not Fade Away Gallery in Manhattan, where Yoko Ono, instead of not fading away, apparently was a no-show. Oh, well. Juliet Grames, editor at Overlook, was there, and so were lots of other very cool people.
I saw Juliet again the next day, when we exchanged galleys — mine to her, and a book called “When Autumn Leaves,” by Amy Foster, from her to me. Then I went to the Beaufort booth, where the giant pyramid of copies of “The Jewel of Medina” had disappeared, whisked away by readers, all before noon. Some women came in and shook my hand, called me “courageous” (I think “stubborn” is more accurate) and told me how much they loved “The Jewel of Medina.” Wow! That really made me feel good, because I love the book and its characters so much. I gave them copies of “The Sword of Medina” with promises that they’ll enjoy it even more, then let myself be whisked away to the autograph area, where I was schedule to sign copies of the sequel for what, I was certain, would be a very small group.
Imagine my surprise to see a long line of men and women waiting at my station, those in front sitting down as if they’d been there a while. I made a joke about folks camping out for my book, then started signing away.
To my delight, my friend Barbara Theroux, manager and former owner of Fact and Fiction Books in Missoula, Montana, my sometimes-stomping grounds, appeared in the line with a big smile. I greeted my guests, signed books for about 45 minutes, and then it was over. Whew! The adrenaline rush kept me talking non-stop for the next few hours until, a delectable dinner of soup dumplings from Joe’s Shanghai Grill and a bit of nightclubbing later, I crashed in bed — at about 3:30 a.m. They don’t call it “The City That Never Sleeps” for nothing!