This is a log of the first week of Brian and Kevin's
Machine Crusade book signing tour: 9/14/03 - 9/20/03.
For additional entries, see:

Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4

Click on the photos in this blog to view larger images.
For additional photos from the tour, please see the MC Tour Scrapbook.

Packing, packing. Imagine the mess that piles up in the house and office just before leaving on a 24-day book-signing tour. I don't think I've ever been gone from home for that long. How can a person fit enough stuff into a suitcase? I hope some of our hotels have laundry facilities!

This will be the fifth year in a row that Brian and I have gone on tour to promote the new DUNE novels -- and it's by far the most extensive. Thirty-one separate events, twenty-eight cities. Most of them will be with Brian and me together, about half with my wife Rebecca Moesta joining us at signings, with a few at the end with just me in Colorado and just Brian in Washington State.

My only other book-signing tour remotely as exhaustive was for the comedy thriller AI! PEDRITO! -- 27 cities in 28 days -- in 1995. At one point, in Hollywood, at an event with bands and free banana splits, I set the Guinness World Record for the "largest single-author book signing in history." Let's hope we get a good crowd for THE MACHINE CRUSADE as well.

For HOUSE ATREIDES, HOUSE HARKONNEN, HOUSE CORRINO and last year's THE BUTLERIAN JIHAD, we launched each tour in Seattle, Frank Herbert's home, and from there we traveled down the West Coast. This year Tor Books is taking us to the other side of the country, launching the tour in Washington DC and moving around the East Coast, New England, and the Midwest. Rebecca and I leave tomorrow morning, flying out of Denver; since Brian doesn't fly, he boarded a train from Seattle on Friday.

Before leaving home for so long, the most difficult part was clearing the decks of other projects and deadlines. For the past month I've been working nonstop to do the fifth edit on THE BATTLE OF CORRIN, the third volume that completes the trilogy we started in THE BUTLERIAN JIHAD and THE MACHINE CRUSADE. On Friday I finished and shipped the draft off to our editors in New York and London for their initial comments and suggestions. Brian and I are almost two months ahead of schedule on this manuscript -- mainly because neither of us wanted to be trying to edit and revise a 750-page book while traveling from city to city.

From my editor at Warner Books, I also received the marked-up manuscript for HORIZON STORMS, the third volume in my "Saga of Seven Suns" epic. I also spent several days keying in all of the changes and revisions. (I certainly didn't want to lug around a 700-page stack in my suitcase!)

And Marvel Comics has signed me up to write a monthly comic, retooling and relaunching one of their older titles, STAR JAMMERS. This is a sprawling science fiction story with space pirates -- my kind of stuff. The bad news: It's on the fast track, and so I had to deliver the full script for the first issue before heading out on the book-signing tour. Guess what I did all day Saturday!

But, now it's Sunday night -- my twelfth wedding anniversary with Rebecca, and we're spending the anniversary packing.

Sigh of relief, though, and a surge of enthusiasm. Everything's under control, deadlines met, manuscripts delivered. All files on the laptop. Fresh pens. Checked with the airline, verified the flight, got the seat assignment.

And ready for one last night sleeping in my own bed.

--- KJA

Sunday, September 14, 2003


Monday, September 15, 2003

From now on, Kevin and I can call ourselves Storm Chasers. He flew for 2,000 miles, and I took a train for 3,000 miles in order to meet Hurricane Isabel. As I write this, we are now in Washington, D.C. awaiting her arrival, scheduled in this region on September 18th. Isabel had a bit further to journey than we did, and she tends to whirl about in one direction and another, not exactly taking the shortest distance between two points. On September 17th, our schedule calls for us to move to Baltimore’s inner harbor, which should be a more spectacular place for us to meet the lady.

I left sunny (not a typo) Seattle by Amtrak on September 12th and arrived in Washington, D.C. on September 15th. Who says the weather in Seattle is bad? Certainly not this year, when we went for months with no rain. I went all this way to find a hurricane? How smart is that? My wife Jan, perhaps using her women’s intuition to stay where the weather is better, will not be joining our book tour until we arrive in New York city next week.

While Isabel could put some wind in the sails of our book tour, it could also make the book stores where we are making appearances a bit wet. Oh well, no use worrying about whether our signatures will be legible on damp pages. Kevin and I will just use the experience in one of our future books.

Because of budgetary problems, Amtrak has gone downhill in the last three or four years, but it’s still a lot better than it was back in the mid-1980s, when I first started riding the rails. I enjoy it immensely. In fact, the difference between flying and taking the train is like riding in one of those big high-powered “cigarette boats” (powered by automobile engines) versus the experience of sailing. The high-speed power boater wants to get from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible. On the other hand, with sailing, when you are out on the water that is where you want to be.

Similarly, I enjoy being on the train, because I can read a book or write without having the constant interruption of phones and business matters. Even in Seattle, I don’t use e-mails, except when I hand one of my disks to a friend who is connected. I have a laptop on the train, and it’s not hooked to the internet. That is fitting, I suppose, because in the universe of Dune (where I spend much of my time) there are no legally operated computers.

A couple of weeks before departing on the big book tour, I finished my draft of the new Dune book, DUNE: THE BATTLE OF CORRIN, and passed it off to Kevin for his draft. (It’s over 700 pages now). With no Dune project to occupy me on the train, I wrote publicity material for my forthcoming book (Spring, 2004) on the U.S. Merchant Marine, entitled THE FORGOTTEN HEROES. I also wrote several chapters on a new mainstream novel that I’ve been wanting to write for a long time. I’m around 12 chapters into that, and it is going well. On the train, I also made notes for new science fiction trilogy that I will begin to write next year -- the first volume is due in the publisher’s hands by the end of 2004.

On Monday morning, September 15th, the train passed the postcard-perfect town of Harpers Ferry, WV, where John Brown and his fellow abolitionists tried to seize a Federal arsenal in 1859. We also passed the nearby town of Martinsburg, which has the oldest operating train station in the United States, an old brick building with wooden balconies. A little further down the line, the train rolled by the resting place of author F. Scott Fitzgerald, near a white church on a hill. It is like that all across the United States, as rail lines take you to places that you don’t even think about when you’re flying.

On this first leg of my train trip, I dined with a variety of interesting people that were seated at tables with me. One was an elderly gentleman who wrote articles about model railroading, and who also served in the Pacific during World War II. He regaled us with stories of bygone steam engines and harrowing battles against the Japanese. Another evening I dined with a fellow who was a master chef and a dog trainer -- he told us all about the fine points of cooking and of raising guard dogs that (in his words) do not wag their tails when burglars show up. I also lunched with a bearded man in Harley Davidson suspenders who told me the history of motorcycles, and how he had been successful enough in business to put his children through Harvard, Yale, and Oxford.

A couple of years ago, I met an old gentleman on the ocean liner QE2 in an atmosphere that was somewhat similar, not hurrying from one place to another. He told me the fascinating story of his adventures in the U.S. Merchant Marine during World War II . . . the story that I wrote in THE FORGOTTEN HEROES. Traveling by train, by sailboat, and by ship is a different way of life, a bygone and more civil manner of getting around. For a writer, it’s also a great source of story ideas and characters.

Our publisher, Tor Books, put us in quite a nice hotel in Washington, D.C. We each have suites that include dining areas with chandeliers. After a great dinner with Kevin, Rebecca, and their friend Myke Cole on September 15th, I returned to the hotel. I had been fighting a sinus infection that started the first day I was on the train, so I had been feeling a little run down. Wearily, I crawled into bed. As usual, I then kicked the sheets and blankets around to get them loose -- I can’t stand the way maids tighten them at the foot ends of the beds.

Everything came loose, all right, but something didn’t feel right down there, with padding jammed into my feet. I flipped on the light and saw that the bottom sheet of my bed was not long enough for the bed. In fact, it was several inches too short, and I could see the mattress pad there, all messed up. In an exclusive hotel like this, you would think that they could at least give us sheets that are the right size. I have been short-sheeted before -- an old trick from my teenage days, in which you make up the bed of your victim to look like it has two sheets, when in fact it has only one sheet, folded in half to look like two from the top. Thus, the opening under the covers is only long enough for a three-foot person. Based upon my latest experience, however, we shall have to add a second definition of short-sheeting to the dictionary.

My wife and I have done a lot of traveling, including an around the world trip in 2001, when we were gone for five months. On that trip and others (including book tours), we have learned that traveling is often about problem solving, and that some of the minor “misadventures” are the most fun, the episodes that we laugh and talk about the most later.

--- Brian Herbert

* * * * *

Why does the alarm go off at 6:30? Alarms should have a fail-safe function built in so that people can get some sleep -- I mean, we’ve got a 28-city book signing tour to rest up for. On the early morning TV news, we hear warnings about a huge hurricane, Isabel, primed to hit the East Coast exactly where and when we’re doing book signings in a few days. Highest wind speeds ever recorded. I doubt many people will come out for book signings in the middle of a hurricane. . .

We get up, get dressed, get ready. I guzzle a canned shake for breakfast; Rebecca eats a protein bar (but she saves it for in the car on the way to the airport). Say goodbye to the cats, then head out.

On the drive to the airport, our agent calls on the cell phone to discuss the contract for a graphic novel I’m doing for Byron Preiss and Simon & Schuster (THE ORC’S TREASURE, with art by Alex Nino; should be in stores this spring.) He also talks with Rebecca about a young-adult series she’s got in the planning stages with June Scobee-Rogers, the widow of the commander of the last Challenger mission.

Thanks to our embarrassing amount of frequent-flyer miles, we get upgraded to empty seats in Business Class, where we have room to work. On the plane, I spend the hours in the air massaging fixes into the manuscript for HORIZON STORMS, tweaking characters, adding explanations and connecting tissue in chapters, pumping up action scenes. When the flight attendant demands that all electronic devices must be turned off (makes me feel REALLY confident about terrorist plots if the plane is in danger from the emissions from my PowerBook!), I root around in my case and haul out all the clippings and summaries Brian sent me.

Because we’re planning to brainstorm DUNE 7 during this tour, I reread Frank Herbert’s outline for the novel. Just as fascinating, Brian also sent me his files of clippings and interviews from when HERETICS OF DUNE and CHAPTERHOUSE: DUNE were published. Interesting perspective.

We land, all our luggage is there, the driver is waiting, and we head off for the hotel -- and it pours like Armageddon. It isn’t even Hurricane Time yet! But the hotel is beautiful, our room is great . . .

Rebecca’s sister Cindy is director of security and health for a hospital in Bethesda, and she’s been put on full-time emergency call to prepare for casualties of Isabel (now that’s what we call an auspicious omen!), so we can’t get together for dinner.

At the hotel, we meet Brian, give him some extra posters for THE MACHINE CRUSADE and postcards for DREAMER OF DUNE, and then we all meet for dinner with Myke Cole, one of the winners and students in this year’s Writers of the Future contest, held in LA. Brian and I are both judges; Rebecca and I were teachers this year, and Myke showed us a fabulous steak house in downtown Washington DC. It’s a day late for our anniversary, but a great meal anyway -- and fun conversation. In addition to being an aspiring writer, Myke has the responsibility for electronic messaging for the Department of Education (where the real money is). Judging by the number of phone calls Myke receives during the meal, the Department of Energy must need a lot of electronic messaging at 8:00 on a Monday night….

We’re two hours off our time zone, but we’re more than two hours behind on sleep, so we may as well catch up while we can. Tomorrow, our first signing for THE MACHINE CRUSADE.

--- KJA

THE MACHINE CRUSADE hit the stores today! And at around 700 pages in hardcover, it did so with a force something like Hurricane Isabel (which we’ll probably meet up close and personal in another day or two, since we’re staying in Baltimore’s inner harbor.)

After a newspaper interview in the morning, we meet our media escort Kent at 12:30 and head off for a quick lunch at Subway. (Yes, we’re on the publisher’s expense account . . . but we’re cheap dates most of the time.) A media escort is a guy who knows the bookstores and is familiar with the area, which saves plenty of time and stress just because he knows how to get to all of our stops. If our laws are made by the same people who design the roads around Washington DC, no wonder everything’s so messed up! Exits shooting off from every lane, paths crisscrossing, confusing signs -- we’re both familiar with driving in LA, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, but this is nuts! According to our driver, traffic is getting worse and worse, so it may even rival Paris or Rome one of these days.

Kent is a great guy, personable and casual. He doesn’t get lost; he arrives on time. We’ve had other experiences on some of our tours, in particular a lady in Los Angeles who told us as soon as we got in her car, “I should warn you, I make a lot of U-turns.” And she did -- overshooting virtually every turn or destination, hitting the brakes in the middle of the road, and doing a 180 spin in the middle of traffic. We were nearly late for a book signing because she had to make a side trip to pick up her dry cleaning . . . and then she insisted on joining us for lunch, during when she spent the whole hour talking about “relationships.” (Our wives were not with us on that trip. Now, we are dutiful husbands, and talk about relationships all the time with their wives, but do expect to get a break from that when on tour.)

The afternoon is spent doing “Drive-By Signings” -- not a formal talk and autographing session, but just stopping in the store to meet the manager and to sign their piles of books. (Sometimes they just heap books on the sidewalk for us to sign -- just kidding). THE MACHINE CRUSADE is everywhere, as is the paperback of THE BUTLERIAN JIHAD. The bookstore people roll out carts and carts of the books, and we sign frantically, also handing out posters and flyers. While we stand there signing book after book, customers wander up to get the fresh copies. At a Borders in Fairfax, Virginia -- our first stop -- one young man sees us walk in and sees CRUSADE. He practically runs over, picks up the book, and says “Is this for sale already? Can I buy this?” So, he received “Signed Copy #1” of THE MACHINE CRUSADE.

We do five of these drive-by signings before we have to get back to the hotel for a quick dinner and change before our evening event. Every store has a lot of copies and we’re greeted with enthusiasm, with one minor glitch. At the fourth store, we can’t find anybody at the Information desk or even the cash registers, but since they supposedly know we’re coming, Brian starts to sign the copies on the table, while Kevin goes to the bookshelves to round up extra paperbacks, Kevin’s HIDDEN EMPIRE and Brian’s DREAMER OF DUNE. While Kevin is carrying another stack of books to Brian, a burly security man intercepts him with a gruff “Can I help you sir?” (He was probably not offering to carry books…) Finally somebody at the bookstore understands what we’re doing and happily lets us continue.

This is reminiscent of another episode in the Herbert family saga, in which Frank Herbert walked into a San Francisco book store and began signing copies of his books without asking permission from the clerk. The clerk thought that he was a nutcase, and refused to believe that he really was Frank Herbert until the author held a picture from the book jacket up next to his own face and proved it. (This, and other anecdotes about Frank Herbert, are covered in the comprehensive biography DREAMER OF DUNE. That book got a starred review from Publishers Weekly, and is part biography and part memoir. It is also a literary criticism of Frank Herbert’s writings, and a love story between Beverly and Frank Herbert.)

For the first formal event that night, at Olsson’s bookstore in downtown Washington DC, we have a very good crowd sitting in their chairs, waiting for us. The store had 101 copies of the hardcover and after we give our talk, answer questions, and do our signing, we’ve sold about half of them on the spot -- and also signed many, many copies that people had in their homes, since this is our first east coast book tour. The audience is clearly pleased, and we’re pumped by the time we finally get back to the hotel late at night. Best, three people at the signing tell us they are reading this daily journal . . . so we’ll have to keep going.

Brian has been a bit under the weather with a sinus infection or a cold. The medicine that he was using doesn’t seem to be doing any good, so ten minutes before the hotel gift shop closes that evening, he goes in for a different medicine. Then, back in his room when he is ready for bed, he discovers that the package is out of date, and he calls the switchboard. The woman tells him that he should run back down to the gift store. It is 10:59 pm, and the store closes at 11:00 pm, and Brian doesn’t think he will make it in time. Brian has to tell her in his nicest tone that he isn’t feeling well, and could she possibly check and see if it’s open. This takes a couple of minutes of negotiating, but Brian’s charm finally wins out. He gets dressed again, goes downstairs and gets the medicine, thinking about Murphy’s Law all the way. The Irish leprechaun has had his sights on Brian for a long time.

--- BH & KJA

Tuesday, September 16, 2003


Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Brian is still feeling under the weather, and by midday tomorrow everyone in the region may be under the weather of Isabel. (We could probably come up with a Dune Coriolis storm analogy, but we are writing this at 6:45 a.m., watching the ominous gray sky as we drive to an early morning television interview just outside of Baltimore.)

On the morning of the 17th, from Brian’s room, we do a telephone interview with radio station KYW-AM in Philadelphia. In the afternoon, we add two drive-by signings at book stores while eating on the run (in the car), and then we are interviewed at a studio by Bill Thompson of Metro Networks, part of WestWood One Radio, with a large listening audience. In a week or so, fans can listen to our interview streamed on the web by clicking onto www.eyeonbooks.com.

By late afternoon, we are in Bailey’s Crossroads, Virginia. We dine there at an excellent Thai restaurant, Duangrats. The name has an odd pronunciation when we attempt it, but the food is very good. We are joined by Bill and Pat Lowry, two of Brian’s friends from the World Cruise that he took two years ago aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2. An interesting couple with law enforcement backgrounds, they have 16 grandchildren, and sometimes take elaborate trips involving the entire large family. On some of their recent journeys, requiring multiple vehicles, they drove through Ireland and Wyoming (not on the same drive, obviously). 

The evening book signing at Border’s Books is surprisingly well-attended, despite the obvious fact that some people in the area are more concerned with protecting their properties against the impending storm . . . filling sandbags, boarding up windows, pulling boats out of the water, moving cars to high ground, and all the things that need to be done for the safety of people and pets.

Our new book, Dune: The Machine Crusade, is specially dedicated to Penny and Ron Merritt. Penny and Brian manage the estate of their father, Frank Herbert, and receive advice from their spouses for all of the important decisions. Penny’s husband, Ron, knew Frank Herbert well, and is able to give advice on a variety of issues, as does Brian’s wife, Jan. It is truly a family business, like a great wine (a gran cru vintage), and everyone pitches in to tend the grapes and keep the roof on the chateau, where all of the classic old bottles and vineyard cuttings are kept. Congratulations to Penny and Ron for your key parts in the continuing success of our family business!

P.S. Hi, Sis!

BH (and KJA)

Our hotel in Baltimore, while it looks great in the lobby and corridors, has dingy rooms. The room is so small and crowded with furniture that it reminds us of the conference room in the cult movie “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes,” in which people have to crawl over the table to get to chairs on the other side. The phones have four “At Your Service” buttons, but none of them work. Just the place to ride out a hurricane!

We have a 7 AM interview on the local Baltimore Fox TV station. When we wake up, the TV news is filled with ominous stories about hurricane Isabel, disaster response plans, emergency preparedness. The government is closed in Washington DC, mass transit and Amtrak aren't running, airports are all shut down, schools cancelled. Kevin calls the station early to make sure the interview is going to happen -- why would anybody want to hear two science fiction authors talk in the midst of a hurricane? -- but the studio manager assures us the interview is still on. Sigh…no extra sleep this morning.

It turns out all of their morning interviews were canceled except for two, and we stayed on the schedule because the producer and the show host are both big DUNE fans. In the studio lobby is a woman holding a very little puppy, preparing to give a talk about what to do with your pets in the hurricane. When it’s our turn, we do a concise interview (“Describe the DUNE series and its impact in 30 seconds”), and Brian also gets to show his cover for DREAMER OF DUNE. It’s good to have a knowledgeable interviewer, someone who understands DUNE. (We’ve been on live TV before with a host who actually asked us, “Now, this DUNE -- is it a book, or what?”) At the end of the interview, the host, Harold, holds up the book and says “See, Dad -- I got it!”

Leaving the early morning interview and knowing the big monster storm is getting closer every hour, we’re not convinced about our signing tonight. Who would come out for a signing in a hurricane? Just in case, we decide to go to the Books A Million as soon as it opens. We want to sign our books so that even if we have to cancel the signing, the fans will still get autographed copies. The store has a huge display -- 290 copies total! -- and it takes us almost two hours to sign them all, and we are cautiously optimistic that we’ll be back for the evening event. Weather permitting…

After a lunch of famous Maryland crab cakes, the sky is getting grayer, the wind is picking up, and the traffic seems to be thinning out as every intelligent person heads inland. Back at the hotel, with a few hours off in the afternoon, Brian and I meet in the hotel lobby for a good brainstorming session on DUNE 7 -- we’re getting very pumped about it -- and then Brian leaves while Kevin takes the laptop into the bar to sample one of the area’s fine microbrews (Clipper City Pale Ale is on tap). He spends an hour editing HORIZON STORMS. . .which seems appropriate as the hurricane worsens outside. The bar also has specials on drinks with names like Hurricanes, Twisters, and Isabels.

By five o’clock Kent calls to tell us the news that our book signing tonight has just been cancelled. The Arundel Mills shopping mall with the Books-a-Million has just been closed and all the people evacuated, so we won't be going there. For any of you who were planning to come and see us, sorry we couldn’t make it -- we would have tried!

Right now, it's time to get a little extra sleep for a change. Outside, it’s raining hard and the wind keeps thrashing the trees. The worst is supposed to hit at about 2 AM, but we should be thoroughly asleep by then.

At around 8:00 PM, a letter slides under the door of each hotel room, which includes the following: “In the event of a power outage, we will have limited food service and limited housekeeping service . . . Glow sticks are available at the front desk. The swimming pool will be closed this evening . . . For emergency precautions, we recommend that you fill up your bathtub prior to going to sleep this evening and pull your black out drapes and sheers. You may want to consider moving your car to the upper levels of the garage, i.e. floors 3-5.”

Our rooms are on the second floor. . .

We’re supposed to leave the next morning to go to Philadelphia, but who knows if the trains will be running or the roads open. In order to pick us up the next day, Kent has to drive from Washington DC to Baltimore, over several bridges and low-lying areas. We don’t know if he’ll be able to make it. Outside, the storm intensifies.

Too much rain. An ironic hazard for a DUNE tour. . . .

B & K

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Friday, September 19, 2003

The phone rings in Kevin’s room at 6:30 in the morning -- it’s Kent calling to say he can’t get through the hurricane damage and flooding to take us to the train station. He has to drive from Washington DC to Baltimore to pick us up, and many of the roads are flooded, the bridges closed, and other sections clogged with debris. The good news, our train to Philadelphia is still presumably on the schedule, though many others have been cancelled. We will take a cab to the station.

Brian muses that travel is always about problem solving, and that surprises are rarely of the pleasant variety. We’re used to being adaptable to various situations.

On TV we see local images of the storm damage. Just a few blocks from our hotel, the flood level in the streets is so high that it reaches the side mirrors on parked cars. The mayor of Baltimore tells people not to wade in the streets because the storm sewers are entirely flooded and have displaced some manhole covers; if you step in one of them, you’ll drop down and never be found again!

The cab gets us to the station after a few detours, and though our train is running, it’s delayed by an hour and a half because of debris on the tracks. Fortunately, we don’t have an appearance until the afternoon, so we should be back on schedule. At one point, the train slows to a crawl to pass over a flooded lake where the water laps up almost to the tracks; we see docks completely underwater and some houses where the lake itself is up to the first-story windows.

The train is crowded, but Brian and Kevin each have enough room to take out their laptops and get an hour of writing and editing. Typically, Brian writes in 1,000 word bursts and then needs to rest his mind, or go on to a different project. He completes Chapter 14 of his new solo novel, then closes his computer and reads notes for the Dune 7 project that he and Kevin are just beginning.

Arriving in Philadelphia, we are picked up by our new media escort, Joan. While waiting for us, holding her copy of THE MACHINE CRUSADE, a man sitting next to her is reading THE BUTLERIAN JIHAD. “Oh, I see we’re reading the same series.” Joan tells him she’s there to meet the authors, so he is there to shake our hands and get his book signed when we get off the train. Brian also gives him a signed postcard for DREAMER OF DUNE.

Joan, a Philadelphia native, is very enthusiastic about her city and takes us on a brief tour, showing us Independence Hall, the site of the Liberty Bell, and a wonderful Tiffany and Maxfield Parrish mosaic inside a building that once housed the Norman Rockwell museum. We get some New York style deli sandwiches for lunch, go to our hotel room for a whopping 45 minutes of down time, then we head out to Moorestown , New Jersey to Koen Books, a large distributor, where we autograph hundreds of copies of CRUSADE and several cases of the BUTLERIAN JIHAD paperback, which will be sent out to smaller bookstores. Koen has already sold 600 of the hardcovers; the sales are picking up after each DUNE novel we publish.

At the book distributor, we learn that the power is still out in many areas, including West Chester, where we are scheduled to do that evening’s book signing. The store representative, Thea, is very concerned; she’s running the cash register and a couple of lights with an emergency generator, but she can’t handle a crowd safely, especially not after it gets dark. Brian and Kevin offer to do a candlelight signing, but there are many insurance problems with that. So, before sunset, Joan takes them directly to Chester County Books to autograph most of their books. They have a wonderful selection not only of MACHINE CRUSADE but also our other books including Brian’s DREAMER OF DUNE and Kevin’s SEVEN SUNS series along with CAPTAIN NEMO -- a perfect way to earn brownie points with authors.

Sadly, the store is going to have to close by 6 PM because they are still out of power and we have to sign books by natural light and a few small bulbs burning from their small generator. While we’re there, a phone call comes in from a man named Tom and his son Christian, who are big DUNE fans and want to know if the signing is going to happen. The store manager tells them to come over right away because we’re already there. Within fifteen minutes a breathless pair comes rushing into the store, and we personalize several copies for them.

Because we still want to give fans a chance to see us in person, we reschedule the signing for 10 AM the following morning. On the way back to our hotel, we stop at two other bookstores, a Borders and a Barnes & Noble, to sign all their copies, then Joan takes us to a wonderful steak house, where her husband Max meets us for a late dinner. After Max shows a very enthusiastic appetite for steak, he tells us he was a vegetarian for thirty years and has only started eating meat for the past six months; apparently, he is catching up with a vengeance.

B & K

In Philadelphia, our hotel is advertised as "an environmentally friendly hotel," with a plethora of energy and water conservation systems, along with organically grown cotton linens, blankets, upholstery, bedspreads and draperies. The furniture, carpeting, and wall coverings do not off-gas toxic chemicals, and there is fresh filtered air in the rooms to remove bacteria, pollen, and other pollutants.

This morning, after only one night, we check out of the hotel, and after swinging by the Barnes & Noble in Rittenhouse Square for a cup of good coffee, we head back out to West Chester to see if anybody has returned for our rescheduled non-candlelight signing. Only a handful of die-hard DUNE fans have come out, but at least the power's back on and Brian and Kevin spend an hour talking with them and answering questions. One of the fans is a charming young woman named Sara, with her mother, Jill. In a comment reminiscent of Ray Bradbury's novel FAHRENHEIT 451, the mother announces proudly that her daughter "is the book DUNE." We are delighted with this reminder that Frank Herbert's fantastic novel is a classic that will be read for generations.

Unfortunately, in the usual confusion of leaving a signing, Kevin forgets his folder of sample art for two comics projects, GRUMPY OLD MONSTERS and the "Seven Suns" graphic novel VEILED ALLIANCES. The cell phone rings after we've gone about fifteen miles on the way back to Philadelphia, so our driver has to turn around and go back.

On the return drive to the heart of the city, where we have another signing at 2:00, Brian is in the front seat with his laptop, pecking away on his mainstream novel, Kevin is in the back seat with the laptop, answering questions for an interview about GRUMPY OLD MONSTERS, while all of us and Rebecca try to carry on a crisscross conversation with the driver. Kevin hands the laptop up front so Brian can flesh out the daily weblog, then it goes back to Kevin. Collaboration on the run!

We stop by the same Barnes & Noble that provided us with necessary coffee in the morning to autograph their stock of books, then we grab a sandwich, eat it on a park bench, and go to our scheduled signing at Borders. This event has the largest turnout yet; we talk and ask questions for about 45 minutes, then start autographing. An avid Dune fan asks us to write this in a book, which we did: "Maynard; A consummate fan of your father, Frank, and now you, Brian. Dune rules! Hey, Brian, thanks." Just behind him in line, a young woman exclaims, "Dune rocks totally!"

All told, we sign 300 copies of the hardcover and an unfathomable number of paperbacks, before our driver rushes us out of the store to get to the train station. We arrive on time, but Rebecca is wincing from a brewing migraine (which Brian tries to cure with liberal donations of chocolate . . . and it actually seems to work. Brian calls it his "beta endorphins" therapy -- best-selling book to follow).

Reaching Penn Station in New York, we find our transportation and get to our hotel, where Brian finally meets up with his wife Jan, who has flown in from Seattle that afternoon. All four of us have a great dinner in a nice Italian restaurant, Fiorelli's near the Metropolitan Opera House, then head back for a good night's sleep.

B & K

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Continue With Week 2

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