Sunday, April 17, 2005

April 15, 2005
Got up at six and had one of those free breakfast deals down in the Hampton Inn lobby (who started this and when? By now everyone is obliged to offer these and I imagine it hasn’t helped Denny’s business any). Had some cold cereal, fruit, an apple, yogurt. Passed on the rubber-pre-made-waffle, but had plenty of coffee. And it's all free!

Drove over to the KAFF (moo!) radio station on old Route 66 at 8:15. Did a quick, live segment on the Book Festival at 8:20 with the morning host Peter Bruce, then while the news played, he whipped me into another studio to tape a guest spot on this coming Sunday's program Under Western Skies. Peter effortlessly jogged between the computer, CDs and the board, tagging a song, and coming out, potted me up and said, "This is Peter Bruce and this morning we're talking to author and editor Bob Boze Bell of True West magazine, who appeared Friday on a media panel with Bob Early of Arizona Highways and Karen Olson of the Utne Reader. How did that go Bob?" Without missing a beat, I joined in: "It went well, Peter, we had a very interesting panel on the Biz, the Buzz and publishing in general."

Welcome to radio. I was talking in past tense about an event I hadn't even attended yet and as we kabitzed I imagined how dangerous and terribly wrong this could turn out. What if terrorists struck at the Northern Arizona Museum, with Al Quaida members (from Kingman, of course) taking all of us hostage on Friday afternoon and then just like in that Chechnian Moscow deal, the SWAT team has to pump sleeping gas into the vents, then explode stun bombs before storming the auditorium and taking out the terrorists? I'm killed, Bob Early is badly wounded and the gory headlines are all over Sunday morning's newspapers, but on KAFF radio, I'm on the air saying, "It went well, Peter. We had a lively discussion." It got even crazier when Peter started doing a weather forecast for Sunday afternoon—"fair and breezy, high about eighty." I laughed when he punched out, and we got ready to go back and do a live segment on the AM side of the building. "Have you ever gotten burned on that kind of deal?" I asked him. "Of course," he laughed, "but most everyone just figures it isn't raining where we are, somewhere in the vast region of their imagination.”"

Ah, radio and the incredible Theatre of the Mind. I do miss it sometimes.

At two we did have the above mentioned media session at the Museum of Northern Arizona and it did go well. No terrorists, although there was a librarian from Kingman in the audience. Karen Olson regaled us with stories of her magazine the Utney Reader (Utney means "far out" in Norwegian). She showed slides of their best performing and worst performing covers and I did the same (the Halloween stamp head cover being the worst, Wyatt Earp, Feb. 2001, the best). There were only about 34 in attendance but they seemed to enjoy the show.

At four I drove down the street to Northland Press and had a very lively conversation with Dave Jenney, the head guy at Northland Press. We have many of the same challenges and we got right down to it. I got the full tour and saw the original artwork for the sequel to The Three Javelinas (which has sold close to 500,000 copies!). Amazing. The artist works in felt tip pens and his ability to blend and do subtle gradations of color is unbelievable. He evidently uses colored pencils on top of the felt tip work to make it smoother. At any rate, I hate the guy and lust after his incredible mastery.

At 5:30 I drove back downtown and attended a free author's dinner at Flagstaff Catering. All the big authors were there (and that’s mainly how they got so big—free food!). Tom Miller (The Panama Hat), Miles Swarthout (The Shootist) and Diana Gabaldon (The Outlander series). As I'm talking to Diana about how she got started and how she works, Thomas is text messaging Kendra:"You know that book series you are so crazy about? With the time travel deal? The Outlander? I'm sitting here talking to her right now!" "No way! Get out."

You can check out her books at

At seven I walked down to the Orpheum Theatre where a line snaked out into the street. Having my author tag around my neck, I was whisked inside and down to the front, to the reserved seats. The place was jam-packed to hear authors read from their books. I'm not making this up. For two hours we heard poems and heavy stories about losers, divorcing couples and couplets, and finally, the headliner, Annie Prouix took the stage and read from her new book "Bad Dirt: Wyoming Stories 2. Annie is a Pulitzer Prize winner (The Shipping News) and she held us all spell-bound for at least an hour. I was quite amazed that a small town in Arizona could pack a theatre on a Friday night, just to hear someone read aloud. Quite impressive and inspiring.

The entire audience held Annie in high esteem, giving her a kind of reverent rock star status and I imagined her being whisked off the stage into a waiting stretch limo. But instead, when she got done she simply walked off the stage, came up the aisle and sat back down in the row I was sitting in! As we all got up to leave I walked up behind her and asked her about the new movie Brokedown Mountain, (the controversial gay cowboy movie which is based on a short story by her) and what she knew about it. She looked very pained and said, "You probably know more about it than I do."

Afterwards, I was invited to meet the gang from Northland at the Zane Gray Bar atop the Weatherford Hotel but I was too pooped and went back to the hotel. A long day, but a good one.

"Problems become opportunities when the right people come together."
—Robert Redford


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