Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Adelaide and Melbourne

Adelaide had been included on our book-tour itinerary due to the tireless efforts of our friend and fellow writer, Sean Williams, whose hometown is Adelaide. Sean had been one of our students at the Writers of the Future workshop years ago, and now he's a bestselling, and very prolific, author in his own right. He convinced Simon & Schuster to send us to his hometown.

When we arrived at our hotel, we found that Sean had left a small care package for us -- a local pale ale in the fridge for me, and a box of local chocolates for Rebecca. Because our room had a nice balcony, I sat outside to edit for an hour before we met Sean for dinner at his favorite Thai restaurant.

The next day we had free until the evening's book signing. This was my first relaxing day in ages, and I spent all morning and afternoon working on ASHES OF WORLDS, editing on my laptop in coffee shops, in the room, completing some of the last major revisions (i.e., my version of "relaxing"). I've been on the road almost constantly since August 4 with very little time to do real writing, so this was quite exhilarating to me. I even walked in one of Adelaide's many parks to dictate a few added scenes. On top of it all, I managed to get two loads of laundry done in the hotel laundromat.

That evening, the signing drew one of our biggest crowds in Australia. The Adelaide fans had turned out in force, including more than a dozen fully costumed Star Wars characters from the 501st as well as the South Australian Fan Force. SAFF presented me with a framed plaque, "Be it light or dark, forever is the Force -- Kevin J. Anderson, with compliments from SAFF, South Australian Fan Force," and two bottles of local Australian wine (which we promised to take to the Conflux science fiction convention in Canberra next week), and I received a special patch from the Terror Australis Garrison, 501st Legion. Also in the crowd I met several of my MySpace friends, and answered questions about some of the Australian bands whose music I enjoyed.

Afterward, we had dinner again with Sean and another friend, Robin, in a famous local pub (we tried a well-spiced kangaroo steak). Then back to the room for more editing in the evening, some packing, and preparation for the next day's trip to Melbourne. Sean was also following us there, and we all had tickets to see the much-anticipated performance of Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of the War of the Worlds.

We landed in Melbourne early in the afternoon, checked into the hotel, and I did a telephone interview with the Canberra Times. Afterward, we explored a little, and then I got more editing done, before it was time to get ready for the concert. The amphitheater was right next to a gigantic sports arena, and both venues were packed full that night, creating a nightmare of traffic, but my excitement drowned it all out. Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds is one of the best-selling albums in history, and I had listened to it literally hundreds of times since high school. The chance to see it live on stage was an opportunity I couldn't possibly pass up. (I confess I did spend $45 on a rather flimsy t-shirt, but sometimes you have to let out the inner fanboy!) The concert was spectacular, despite a few embarrassing technical glitches, and I loved it. Afterward, we met up with Sean and his friend Nick and we made our way back to the Melbourne city center, found a pub for a post-concert beer and conversation, then we parted company again.

Saturday was actually a free day -- a free day -- and while Rebecca explored the Melbourne shopping district, I jumped into editing again. For the fourth night in a row we had made dinner plans with Sean (no, we didn't get tired of his company) as well as graphic novelist Shaun Tan and some other local friends. At twilight, before dinner, Rebecca and I took a short cruise to watch the penguins return to roost for the night in Melbourne harbor. In less than an hour, we saw hundreds of penguins. After getting off the boat and catching a taxi, we made it to dinner on time.

Sunday was also free, but we decided to become actual tourists for the day, booking a 12-hour (500 km) bus tour along the Great Ocean Road and the "Shipwreck Coast," the site of hundreds of shipwrecks in the past two centuries. The scenery was spectacular and breathtaking, and the weather warm and clear. The bus seats were even spacious enough that I could work on my laptop -- yes, editing more scenes in THE ASHES OF WORLDS, and that's where I'm writing this blog, on a darkened bus late at night by the light of a reading lamp.

Next day we met with the Simon & Schuster Melbourne sales team for lunch, then for a drive around the city to sign stock at several bookstores, then back to the hotel for a taped TV interview to be broadcast during a Star Wars festival in Australia, Jedi Force 07, and then a booksigning that night. After the signing, we invited a group of fans to come along with us for a nice dinner at a local pub.

Cheers (as they say over here)

-- KJA


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