|Our guest author, Chrysler.|
Hi, y'all. I'm away in Memphis for the weekend, but I
When the heroine of my novel, The Hawley Book of the Dead, let me know that she was a magician, and a famed Las Vegas illusionist at that, I said, "Really? Las Vegas? Wouldn't you rather be a poet in Key West or something?"
For I am a writer, and a reader, most inspired by place. I love traveling while reading of the places I'm traveling to. For trips to California, I bring Steinbeck and John Muir. For Ireland, I stock up on Yeats and Elizabeth Bowen (though she was Anglo-Irish). For Europe, Henry James. When I do research for my writing, I love to immerse myself in the places I write about. And I had zero interest in Las Vegas. Especially since my reading set in Las Vegas had been limited to Stephen King's post-apocalyptic version in The Stand, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and the chapter in Tom Wolfe's The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, which, oddly, also mentions my tiny hometown of Wilbraham, Massachusetts.
In my mind, the city was not pretty. It was as seedy as it was glitzy, and just as crime-drenched as sun-drenched. But I was compelled by my characters. So I went, husband and friend Leon in tow, to help me navigate. We found ourselves in Vegas on a windy March morning.
And I LOVED it, almost immediately.
It was over the top, the neon city rising from the desert, as if by magic. It was magical at every turn. Our hotel room balcony had a view of the New York City skyline, the Chrysler building, and the Statue of Liberty at 1/3 scale, but plenty impressive.
There were jaw-droppingly befeathered showgirls in the bathrooms.
And very cool retro neon on the old Fremont side of town, more than I could have imagined in one place.
We rode horses in the desert.
And got our photo taken with a million dollars, for free.
We even went for gondola rides at The Venetian. Altogether, we found Las Vegas to be a cheery, sunny place for roving.
And I found books about Las Vegas, and the surrounding desert, books I could love and sink myself into, as I sank into the huge Jacuzzi in the bathroom of our suite, after a long day of touring the world in miniature. The Art of Disappearing, by Ivy Pochoda, about a magician in Las Vegas whose magic is as real as the magic my heroine possesses, just grittier and even more troublesome. Battleborn, by Claire Vaye Watkins, brilliant, stark stories of the city and the desert, reminding me a little of Annie Proulx. For non-fiction,Fooling Houdini, by Alex Stone, the story of his quest to win at the Magic Olympics and become a master magician.
|Chrysler with an Evil Rabbit|
So, to spice things up, Chrysler and I are doing a joint giveaway for a signed, first edition of The Hawley Book of the Dead. All you need to do to enter is leave a comment here and hop on over to Chrysler's author website, www.chryslerszarlan.com, and sign up!