Here’s a quicky trip report.
(I’ll likely miss things, so forgive me. It was a joyous blur.)
Last Sunday, I landed in San Francisco.
Apparently, so did Aaron Mahnke, creator of a little podcast-now-book-now-motherfucking-TV-show called Lore, and as we landed at roughly the same time and had hotels within (not-literal) pissing distance of one another, we got together for coffee and later, for dinner. Our forbidden romance knows no bounds.
Then, Monday, I hopped-skipped-and-jumped to a little upstart unknown company called Lucasfilm, where they told me I would be writing and directing Episode 9, and I was very excited, but then I accidentally — in my excitement! — tripped and fell into a glass case of vintage thermal detonators, which all exploded and sent Pablo Hidalgo rocketing, cartoon-like, into the bay. He could be seen in the distance, shaking his smoldering fist, so I lost the job.
The disappointment on The Carpathian’s face is as plain as my own.
But! They did let me do the Emmy-nominated STAR WARS SHOW as a second-place prize, and you can check me out on that show, just palling around with my pal, Anthony Carboni.
(Or you can just watch it here)
Tuesday, I went to the SF MOMA, and had a lovely time there, and at some point I will crystallize my thoughts on modern art and pop culture and some other random brain-squozenings, then I met up with super-pals Kevin Hearne and Fran Wilde. Kevin, of course, has emerged with a brand spanking new epic fantasy series: the Seven Kennings, which begins with Plague of Giants. It is a blast. It has eleven point-of-view characters. It is a fresh take on epic fantasy. You want it. Fran was here to celebrate her now-completed planet-killing battlestation — wait, no, her now-completed trilogy of bad-ass Bone Universe books, which are dense with worldbuilding potency and sung with lyrical love, and again, are books you must read. (And I see Updraft is, right now, $2.99 for your e-book machine.) It is a wonder that I am friends with so many talented writers. Why they hang with me, I can never know.
Together, we traipsed merrily toward Borderlands Books —
— where we did a slam bang event and they sold their books and I sold my newly-released book about storytelling, Damn Fine Story, and then we went out for tacos, as is necessary to please the word gods. We got to hang briefly with some awesome folks like Richard Kadrey and Charlie Jane Anders and all was well in the world.
I also stayed in a hotel where you could buy “sex dust,” which to my surprise is not cocaine and MDMA mixed together.
Event complete, we zipped off to Portland in the morning.
Kevin and I had face-explodingly good ramen at Boxer Ramen:
And then had ice cream at Salt & Straw:
And you might say, hey, Chuck, what’s the ice cream? And I’d say, well, the bottom scoop is strawberry balsamic, and it was — you know, imagine my face making the most pleasurable face (ew, not that way) you can imagine, and that’s how good it was. Then I’d say, but the top scoop was even better. What was the top scoop? Well, it was Dracula’s Blood Pudding flavor, which is clearly a funny name for a normal flavor, right? HA HA HA NO, it’s motherfucking blood pudding flavored, people. We tasted it and the counter dude was like, “This has actual pig’s blood in it,” and I was like, okay, I’ll vamp it up.
It was maybe the best ice cream I’ve ever had.
It was warm and chocolatey without being chocolate, exactly? It had a Mexican hot chocolate vibe to it, it was richer than expected, it was creamy, it was not bloody or mineral-ish, it was just deeply, intensely satisfying. Also I am now a vampire.
Here, have some Essence of Ghost —
Then Kevin and I trekked to the downtown Portland Powell’s, where I completed a precious ritual of the SFF writer: I signed the pillar.
SEE THERE I AM SIGNING THE PILLAR.
Garbed in the PDX attire of “flannel.”
Here is Kevin, next to Plague of Giants:
We signed their stock, which was considerable. (I also like that they shelve some of my books in horror. I know that horror is anathema in the publishing world right now — a vile curse turning to ash upon the tongue — but really, I tend to write books that skew to horror. Especially the Miriam Black books.)
So, I’d also like to apologize to Powells, because I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand. I’m from the East Coast, and people would proselytize that store to me, and I’d be like, well, I like bookstores, so that sounds great. And they’d clearly see the lack of passion in my eyes and say, NO, MAN, YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND, and then I would just assume that, because they were from Portland, they were really high on like, sex dust or something, and would blow them off. Great, yeah yeah, sure, fine, it’s a bookstore, cool.
My turn to say —
NO, MAN, YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND.
It is a fully-operational book battlestation. (Second Death Star reference in a post? Shut up, it’s on-brand.) It is a temple to books. The downtown one is epic in size and stuffed to the rafters with endless books, including an awesome rare books room. I have not viscerally enjoyed a bookstore as much as I did visiting two different Powells that day.
Speaking of the second Powells —
Off to Beaverton to rejoin with Wild Fran Wilde, where we did an awesome event and answered lots of questions and sold lots of books and met scads of rad people.
(Annie Bellet! Fonda Lee! Dongwon Song!)
Clearly, we are living our best author life:
Then in the morning, Fran wisely eschewed eating GIANT DUTCH BABY PANCAKES, unlike Kevin and I, pictured here in our pre-carb pre-coma state —
And then it was off to Seattle. We drove. Fran kept the conversation smart and literary, whereas Kevin and I talked about secret buttholes? We’re sorry, Fran. Then, a brief rendezvous with Cherie Priest and her Famous Doggos, followed by Thai food with Holy Shit It’s Kace K.C. Alexander, Y’all and why haven’t you read Necrotech yet?
Finally, onto the signing at the University Bookstore in Seattle, except they actually did the event in a church? Thankfully it was a very nice church and not the kind where, y’know, all three of us authors burst into flames upon entering the building.
Scads of cool-ass writer mofos were there: Laura Anne Gilman, Adam Rakunas, Jason Hough, Phil Brucato and Sandra Swan, E. Lily Yu, Cherie Priest, Harry Connolly, Dennis Bakriges, Luke Matthews, Amanda Cherry — and surely more that my jet-laggy brain is missing.
Bonus excellence: Kevin and I met one of the narrators of our books, Xe Sands, who helped narrate Plague of Giants and who narrated Invasive:
You can see we were having no fun at all:
And clearly none of us were the least bit drunk there. Not me, nor Kevin, Amanda, K.C., Adam, nor that guy in the background. I was definitely not drunk on an $8 (!) pint-glass sized gin-and-tonic (!!) featuring a really lovely gin called The Botanist (?!). Point of trivia, the only reason Kevin in this image is not joining our orgy of delight is because he’s buying us all shawarma, because he is just that kind of best person.
Then it was time to say goodbye to people — Kevin was off to MORE TOUR, Fran was off to DIFFERENT MORE TOUR, and I remained in Seattle for a day, where I met with a kick-ass artist named Steven Belledin, who does work for Magic: the Gathering amongst other things (seriously goddamnit go look at his art right bloody now)– oh, and he’s also my second-cousin? — and then I wandered the city, taking in the sights, eating piroshky and BBQ pork buns and then passing out because I had a 6AM flight back home.
Seattle did not leave me disappointed, of course:
I love all three cities immensely and miss them already.
Not as much, though, as I miss my traveling companions — if you ever get the chance to hang with Kevin and Fran, do so immediately. And if you can’t hang with them in person, by gods, go buy their books. And thanks too to Del Rey for helping arrange this tour.
And that’s it, that’s me, I’m out.