The rain continued the next day as Wendy Sheanin and I headed to the airport. When we arrived at SFO, though, we found out our flight was delayed. There was a chance we’d miss our dinner, which was scheduled for that same evening.
At the Virgin America counter, the agent said we couldn’t switch to an earlier flight, and also mentioned that the flight was delayed even longer than we thought. Cue suspenseful music: Would Samuel and Wendy (doesn’t that sound like a Brothers Grimm fairy tale?) make it to their pre-pub dinner? Then, something quite amazing happened. Wendy let the agent know how important it was for us to get to Los Angeles, and the agent melted. Like ice cubes under a heat lamp. A few strokes of the keyboard later, we were stand-by in an earlier flight.
We traveled to Los Angeles under purple lights and the sound of a young Australian woman’s accent on the PA system. Hours later, at Il Piccolino in West Hollywood (photo above of the entrance), our group sat at a table in the middle of the restaurant, next to a group of diners speaking Russian, and across from some young movie actors. I met Jen Ramos, of Vroman’s/Book Soup, Paige Garver of Book Soup, Mary Williams of Skylight, Alison Reid of Diesel, and John Evans, also of Diesel. Not long after we sat down, a series of appetizers began to appear, one surprise after another.
It was great to do the tour stop in Los Angeles, as I went to graduate school there, and was familiar with (and had been to) many of the stores. Though I no longer have a place in L.A., I still think of it as my home, and never more so than when I navigate the winding exits and ramps of the freeways, especially the 10 and the 405.
The dinner lasted for four hours, and had a very familial feeling to it, since everyone seemed to know or have worked with one another. I got to learn a tremendous amount about the quirks and pleasures of owning a bookstore–emptying boxes in the morning, meeting a celebrity for a reading in the evening, as one bookseller noted.
At the end of the meal, we all gathered at the valet to get our cars. I was very lucky to get to do a pre-pub tour; very few debut authors have that opportunity, I was told. Getting back to my sister’s, I felt pretty good about the whole evening. Unlike Cinderella, I hadn’t left a slipper behind, and I’d actually gotten to dance with the Prince for a few nice waltzes.