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Kvetha Fricaya! Greetings Friends!
How would you like to hear a joke? Ok, here goes:
Daniel Purcell, the famous punster, was desired to make a pun extempore. "Upon what subject!" said Daniel. --"The king," said the other.--"Oh! sir," said he, "the king is no subject."
Pg. 4, The Jest Book by Mark Lemon, published 1864. How about another one? This from pg. 9:
A Gentleman at an inn, seeing that the lights were so dim as only to render the darkness visible, called out, "Here, waiter, let me have a couple of decent candles, to see how these others burn."
During my trip to England this fall, I picked up this book at an antique bookstore near Piccadilly Circus. Tony DiTerlizzi (The Spiderwick Chronicles) and I spent five or six hours pouring over various rare books. He bought some rather nice illustrated children's books. But me? I got a book of bad jokes. Mainly because it seemed like good research for writing about humor in a culture not our own. Plus, I'm a sucker for puns and horrible jokes. Call it a character flaw, but I can't help it. One of my favorites?
"I see," cried the blind man as he picked up his hammer and saw.
I know, awesomely terrible, right?
Jokes aside, I recently returned from another trip (a two-parter) for Random House. This one was a bit unusual on both fronts.
First I flew out to Portland, where I attended the PNBA--the Pacific Northwest Booksellers' Association. Quite a mouthful! At PNBA, I had the privilege of speaking at a breakfast for the attendees, along with a number of other writers, including Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club. The breakfast was a fun event; it was an honor to be able to thank many of the people who have helped support the Inheritance cycle over the years. Palahniuk told some very funny stories about working in a hospital as a teenager, but I'm afraid they're a bit too gruesome to repeat here. Suffice it to say, they involved copious amounts of blood and steaming organs. Wholesome family entertainment it was not, but very funny.
Afterward, I also got to wander around the trade show, which was enjoyable for a different reason: books! Of course, my reading pile already consisted of around 150 books, but I couldn't resist picking up a few more. I think I must have been one of the only people in the world walking around with a commemorative Batman book (The Batman Files) and a collection of Alexander Pushkin's poems. I also picked up a copy of The Ship That Sailed to Mars, a very early fantasy book (pre-Tolkien) that I've never had the opportunity to read. Looking forward to it!
From Portland, I flew across the country to Maryland. Not without some fuss, however, as my flight got delayed and I had to switch carriers. I can't complain, though, because the delay gave me the chance to chat with sci-fi author Verner Vinge for a good long while. I've admired his work for a number of years now, so that was a real treat. He's really a great guy.
In Maryland, I went to a Random House distribution center near Baltimore, and over the course of 48 hours, I signed 9,300 copies of Inheritance, plus another hundred bookplates. Now, I've done some big signings before (some of you may even have attended them), but I've never signed that many books in so short a time. My previous one-day record was 3,500, and I broke that my first day in Baltimore. How did I get through such a large signing? Well, I plugged in my iPod, put on a course about applied economics (thrilling, I know), and turned off my brain. That, and lots of coffee. A big thanks goes to the team there at the facility. At any one time, about eight people were shuffling books around me: opening boxes, flapping the book (that is, putting the front part of the dust-jacket before the title page, so that I don't waste precious seconds searching for it) and pushing and pulling the books out from under my hand. Without their help, it would have taken me a week or more to get through all those books. I lost count along the way, but I know I went through at least two packs of gel pens.
My autograph didn't change much over the course of the signing, although my last signature might have been a hair looser than the first, but not by much. Aside from some sore knuckles, I didn't really experience any adverse side-effects. That said, I don't think I'll be signing that many books in such a short period of time again.
Since Random House is keeping Inheritance under lock and key (literally) until as close as possible to the publication date of November 8th, this trip was the first time that I'd gotten to see an actual hardcover version of the book. Better yet, they let me take a copy home with me! I have it on my shelf right now, next to the previous three and the companion book, Eragon's Guide to Alagaësia... It's strange seeing it sitting there and knowing that the series really is done after all. I have to admit, I feel tempted to start a fifth book set in Alagaësia. I won't, not right away, but I find I miss the world and the characters more than I expected. Ah well, I suppose it's only natural after spending thirteen some years working on the same story.
I won't have a chance to write another newsletter before the launch of the book, but if you want, you can follow me on Twitter (@InheritanceCP). Yes, I'm finally on Twitter. I've been resisting it for ages, since it would have cut into writing time on Inheritance, but now that I'm done, I have all the time in the world. It should be fun. I'll be writing updates throughout my tour. Tweets aside, I hope I see as many of you as possible on the road. Until then, may your swords stay sharp!
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