Greetings and salutations, brave and intrepid readers… It is I, Mr Kyme, returned from that city that never sleeps, the Big Apple, that there New York.
Yup, I’ve been transatlantic this past week in the good old U S of A at New York Book Expo.
For those of you not in the know (and I really wasn’t that clued up to begin with, I feel I can be honest about that and share freely – we’re all friends here, after all, right… right?), Book Expo is a sort of trade convention where a bunch of publishers and so on get together and set up stands for the likes of other publishers, libraries, agents, bloggers, ‘guests’, press, book buyers and other associated peeps to come around and see/hear about their wares.
Black Library has been at the show a few times, showing off new novels, pimping authors and spreading the good word to the uninitiated and recently converted. This year it was my turn to attend and I was mightily grateful.
As fortune, fate or blaggery (which I am now coining as a word) would have it, the show itself was an intense two full days of talking, signing, seeing and listening at the BL stand. I actually arrived in NYC with the inimitable, slightly svelter-than-previously, George Mann – my boss and an author of some repute his self – on the Saturday afternoon. Due to the crazy time difference by hopping across various lines of longitude or latitude or whatever, it was actually 8.30pm in my head. A rapid upturn and desire to party in this most cosmopolitan and insane of city’s soon rpaidly became a downturn and an early night. Still, I was banging on about luck and fortune and all that malarky, wasn’t I – the upshot was this: we got in Saturday afternoon but the show wasn’t until Wednesday (as it turned out), and, despite some meetings and set up stuff to do, George and I could be tourists for a few days – woot!
We stayed in the Paramount Hotel, which was kind of like a night club but without the people. Stepping out of my first Yellow Cab (a later ride in one was to prove to be the frenzied Hollywood experience I hoped it would be, complete with several near misses, excessive and unnecessary speeding, swearing and honking at other drivers and reckless lane changes that made the Nemesis at Alton Towers seem time – it was like being in Grand Theft Auto for real), I made my way into a darkened lobby with heavy bass dance music blasting out to a crowd of about two people – weird.
George and I were met by the lovely Lola at the reception desk who put us on an instant high after a long and tedious plane journey from Heathrow to JFK. The Paramount is actually right on Times Square and once our bags were checked in we set about exploring. George is a veteran of NYC, whereas I was a Big Apple virgin. What can I say: this city is nuts, but it’s also cool.
Aggressive is one word used to characterise New York and I think that’s fair. The pace is fast, the people are… well… populous. There’s mad strobing bill boards, colossal signs, monstrous buildings, jaded throngs of New Yorkers, packs of rabid tourists, hawkers, street vendors, cars, cabs, ticket touts, naked cowboy and cowgirls, NYPD and that’s just as you step from the hotel lobby. It was a sensory overload it’s reasonable to assert.
I loved it, though.
Don’t get me wrong, this is an intense place. No way could I live there. It would drive me nuts. But for a while, for those first few days, it was kind of a screwed up wonderful where anything is possible and probably shouldn’t be. I walked into one store that was devoted to M&M’s. The entire store. All three floors of it. Needed to be seen to be believed. Only in America. Only in New York City, right?
I could go into the ins and outs of the entire trip. It would take me ages. Plus, I’m still jet lagged and don’t know how long I can keep this up before I pass out, so I shall extract the highlights for your edification.
Touristy stuff comprised the Empire State Building, Central Park Zoo, Times Square (as already mentioned), Union Square, the Flatiron Building, Macy’s and the King Tut exhibition at the Discovery Centre. All exceptionally cool.
Empire State was crazy high and I very nearly soiled my pants as I looked out through a flimsy railing onto a simply breathtaking and stunning view of the city. I was eighty-seven floors up and not even at the top. Taking out my camera, I had to brace myself against the back wall so I didn’t feel like I was going to drop it into the smoke/mist shrouded abyss below…
Central Park was amazing. The zoo itself – incredible. Such a variety of flora and fauna I have never seen. They even have polar bears (Lost, eat your heart out – which, incidentally ended when I was out in the States, so I was desperate to avoid all spoilers. I did, watched the finale upon my return to Blighty a couple of days ago and, frankly, felt a little disappointed – but, how the heck could it have every lived up to the hype…).
I had an amazing time. The show was interesting too – you really get a sense of the American/New York mindset. It’s a little mad but overall friendly and welcoming. I think, by the end, I was ready for a good, healthy dose of British cynicism but what a trip I had.
Here’s some of my cheeky tourist snaps for your delectation…
Well, that’s it kids, my New York adventure in a rather tightly crowded nutshell (a bit like the streets of NYC themselves). Certainly, not one to forget that’s for sure. Oh, and an unexpected bonus for me at the show (besides getting through over two hundred copies of Salamander - keep spreading the good word, friends) was seeing the mighty Lee Child again. Lee was there signing his latest novel 61 Hours. I was very pleasantly surprised that he remembered me from last time (at Waterstones in Nottingham). If you read this, Mr Child, I salute you and your novels. Yes, I can be a shameless fanboy too.
Until next time, folks (which might be sooner than you think), ta, ta!
PS My great and heartfelt thanks to the various Facebook messages and reviews about Fireborn. I’m very glad it’s been so well received. I’m not done with Firedrake yet (it’s going to be right up to the wire, but I promise that’s because I’m working so hard on it), but I hope it will live up to the lofty legacy I’ve set up with Salamander, Fireborn and all the short stories.