The first stop on my tour was Los Angeles. Since Gary and I met in LA, and lived there for almost twenty years, it was like visiting our history, a homecoming of sorts. I always tell people that I was raised in Massachusetts but that I grew up in LA. I think that’s pretty accurate. In any case, there was a certain feeling of comfort as the plane landed at LAX, and I was thankful for it. Losing my mother has been very difficult, going to LA was a visit to a different part of my history.
We had an author’s escort, Cindy, someone who knew the bookstores well and was able to navigate the tangled freeways better than I could have. Our first stops were to sign stock. We went to many of the stores where my appearances had been cancelled due to my mother’s illness. They were incredibly understanding and welcoming. At The Mystery Bookstore in Westwood, they have a real jail register that originally came from Sacramento. All of the authors who visit sign the book, and plead their case. They ask why you were arrested. I said it was for stealing sheep. Someone once told me that my family had been kicked out of Ireland for stealing sheep. They ask for your reason. I like sheep. Simple… This is a great bookstore. If you get a chance, go by. I asked for a book to read on the plane, and they recommended a great one, exactly what I had in mind. I am never disappointed when I ask a bookstore to recommend.
The next stop was at Vroman’s in Pasadena. This was one of my favorite book stores when I lived in Los Feliz.
I then signed stock at Borders in Pasadena, another favorite haunt. We then left LA and drove down to Orange County to Fullerton to see the Red Hats. For those of you who have not read my book, the Red Hats, though minor characters play a very important role in “The Lace Reader.” I had to find a group of women, who would have been both clients at Eva’s tearoom and might have also been her friends. I needed a group strong enough to stand up to Cal Boynton and unafraid of the consequences. The Red Hats were perfect. Outrageous, fun loving, yet feisty, they act as a bit of a Greek Chorus in my story.
The event was at the Red Hat Society Store in Fullerton. It was my first public appearance since my mother died, and, frankly, I wasn’t certain how I would do when I started to speak. But the store itself has a way of lifting one’s spirits: Pink couches, purple boas, red lace gloves. A wild and beautiful place, this was definitely a different world. It drew me in completely.
I was introduced to Sue Ellen Cooper, the founder of the Red Hats and their Exalted Queen Mother. She directed me to sit next to her. She knew about my mother and expressed her condolences. And then something strange happened. In a wonderfully hypnotic reversal, I became almost a character in my own book, and, just as they were able to do with the grieving woman in “The Lace Reader, the Red Hatters surrounded me and made me smile and laugh for the first time in many weeks. I will be forever grateful that my first event after Mom’s passing was with these lovely and spirited women.
After Fullerton, it was on to the Borders in Torrance to sign more stock, then a quick stop in Redondo Beach where I met Terry Gilman, one of the owners of Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego. She was great, and I signed some stock for the store. I’ve made a note to make sure I get to the Mysterious Galaxy when I’m down in San Diego in October.