I’ve been back long enough now to be able to lend some perspective to this year’s book tour, and I want to share a few thoughts with you. Kind of need to unload or unburden or whatever my memories of what it felt like and what I learned. I’ve been going out every year now – with only a few exceptions – since 1982. So that makes 37 years of touring the cities of the U.S., Canada, Europe and Down Under. Just to round things up, I will probably go for an even 40 at least.
So what do I have to say, on reflection?
Readers. Kind and generous beyond imagining. I am never as kind to myself as you are. I love what I do and I pretty much like what I’ve done, but the enthusiasm for the books from you always surpasses anything I have and certainly my expectations. How much energy does that generate in a writer? A whole lot. I always return exhausted, but committed to doing a new book that will live up to your eagerness to see another effort carried out. So thanks again for that.
Collectors. Jeez. I cannot believe the stuff people have uncovered that has some relation or other with my work. Much of it I have never seen. Much I don’t have myself. Much I had no idea even existed. And the quality is astonishing. Everyone takes such good care of what they’ve collected. Met a fellow who had a pristine condition The Sword of Shannara signed by both the Hildebrandt Brothers and myself. Never seen that before. Another had an original black and white Hildebrandt painting from one of those you can find in the original The Sword of Shannara. Bought it from the family, which has placed some of their work on the market. Another had comics of Sword. It goes on and on, and I am amazed and pleased beyond words.
The Country. The mood everywhere is pretty good, considering that almost no one feels happy about the direction of things. No one likes the gridlock in Washington, the bickering of politicians, or the air of entitlement of the President and Congress or the sense that we are in some sort of major shift that is eroding our democracy. People I meet are much kinder and gentler than those power brokers we read about in the papers and on social media. No one likes that contentious attitude of our politicians. Everyone is worried about where we are headed.
Roads. Bad everywhere. Construction all over the place, which makes it hard to get anywhere without considerable effort. Travel has not gotten easier. Getting through airports is a nightmare. Driving anywhere is dangerous and frustrating. If anything takes me off tour – besides age, of course – it will be the hardship of travel. I used to gripe about doing six weeks on the road. Now I am griping about doing three. If it wasn’t for the chance to meet readers and measure how they are measuring the quality of my books and my writing, I might give it up altogether.
Age. See above. Don’t have the energy I did at 50. Don’t have the patience or the stamina or the resilience either. I always thought I would be able to sustain all of that, but getting there only goes to prove how wrong you are. What you think you can do is one thing. What you can actually do is something else altogether. That said, Judine and I found some wonderful surprises along the way. In Cedar Rapids we found a restaurant that played the most astonishing music while we dined. We had to eat early because of an event, and we were the only customers in the restaurant. The meal was great, but that music! Judine kept holding up her phone and saying, “Siri, who is singing this song?” Then there were the bookstores and libraries and venues of all sorts that were really beautiful and welcoming. Some we will need to go back to, just because. We took pix and posted them with comments, so those of you on Facebook will know what I am talking about.
Next Year. The final Shannara book in the thirty book series publishes in late May/early June. I will definitely be touring with it. Got to say goodbye in the right way. Not sure where I will go or how I will go about it. I will not get everywhere, of course, but will do as much as I can. One thing to remember – I have two books coming out next year. The second is a collection of my short fiction, some old, some new, which will be a hardcover publication in the fall. So I get two chances at meeting readers and will take as much advantage of it as I can.
And that’s about it. Thanks to all of you who traveled over to say hello. Thanks for all the support this time and every time. Thanks for not trying to judge what I am doing in my writing in any other way but the way that matters. Did I tell a good story? Did I write it in a compelling way? Did you care about the characters and their fates?
If the answer to all these questions is Yes, I am satisfied.
Have a good summer. See you next year, Terry