Last night, I had a signing at the Barnes & Noble in my home town of Walnut Creek, California. I drove up from Los Angeles, which took longer than usual due to rain, fog, and more cops on the road than I’ve ever seen before (I guess end of the month is ticket-quota time). But it was a pleasant drive. I lost myself in mysteries — finishing a J.A. Jance book on tape and starting the latest Spenser.
Once I got up to Walnut Creek, I couldn’t resist visiting Emil Villa’s Hickory Pit, a place I used to love as a kid. It’s probably been a decade since I’ve eaten there. Well, memories can be tricky things. Either I’ve changed or the ribs have. They tasted like they were frozen and then marinated in solvent. I should have known better — they weren’t good ten years ago, either. Why did I think they’d be more like I remembered now?
I did some drive-by signings at B &N in Concord, B&N in Dublin, Borders Express in Concord and Borders in Pleasant Hill before heading to the main event in downtown Walnut Creek.
The signing didn’t pack a big crowd, but I never mind that. The bookstore ordered quite a few copies of THE MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE, which were prominently displayed (and had been for the week prior to my arrival and will be after I leave), and there were two posters in the store announcing the event. They even had a healthy number of DM books on hand. There was a film crew there from Rossmoor, a retirement community that has their own television station (The DM books are big with the retirees, as you can imagine), so my signing will air on TV in the next few weeks, so I reached more people than actually attended. I was on a mike, so more people came as I started speaking, answering questions, and telling all my Hollywood anecdotes.
I finally got to meet Chadwick Saxelid, who has reviewed the DM books on Amazon and is a frequent visitor here — and who I just killed (with his permission) in the DM novel I’m writing now. And my old high school chum Jim Sampair showed up with his lovely wife and mother (I’ve always known her as "Mrs. Sampair, " so when it came time to sign her book, I realized to my embarrassment that I didn’t know her first name!). I also forgot, in middle of my talk, how many days there are in a year — I blame those solvent-soaked ribs for my mental hiccup.
Tonight I meet the members of Mystery Readers International at Janet Rudolph’s home in the Berkeley hills. I’ve heard from lots of other authors that her "At Home" events are a lot of fun, so I’m looking forward to it.
8 thoughts on “Going Home Again”
Lee, this may be a potentially dumb question, but what the hell… when you do drive-by signings, do you call ahead? Or check online to make sure there are copies in stock?
Aaah, Walnut Creek. I grew up in Lafayette and still go back there every few months to see the family. How crazy is it how built up Walnut Creek has become over the last ten years?
It’s like a bustling city now.
The Hickory Pit?? Oh, Lee! What memories that brought back. I even remember the original Pit on Telegraph Ave in Oakland! And you’re right-it just ain’t the same. Last time I was in Alamo (used to live at Round Hill)to visit friends, we stopped at the Pit and it was awful.
A Walnut Creek guy, huh? The little town just ain’t the same either.
Did you go to Del Valle, Northgate or Las Lomas?
Lee, I would have loved to stop and say hello. I love about 20 minutes from Walnut Creek. Maybe mext time… but I’m glad you had a good time. –B–
I just dropped in — I didn’t call ahead. I probably should, but so far I always find a few copies of my books in the stores, which I suppose is a safe bet with paperbacks (less so with hard-covers). If I were you, I’d call first.
I’m a 1980 graduate of Northgate High School in Walnut Creek.
Pauly D and Elaine,
I can’t believe how much Walnut Creek has changed. I mean… a Tiffany store??? Downtown has become very upscale and swank. It certainly wasn’t when I lived there!
How is your mom. Such a lovely person. Mary Freethy azevedo. Knew her in Children’s hospital group.
I’m sorry to tell you that she passed away several years ago.