Saturday, February 14, 2009
My Trip to LA: Part One

So, it's been about a month since my trip to LA.

Now some folk will quibble and say that I was in *Pasadena,* not LA. But that is a distinction that matters primarily to folks who live in the LA area. To the rest of us, that entire gob of city there in Southern California is all LA.

It's best not to split hairs about these sorts of things. If we're going to get technical, I would have to explain to people that I'm not originally from Madison proper. I'm actually from the Town of Burke, right next to Madison. And right now I'm not in Hayward, hiding from the world and writing, I'm in the nearby township of Lenroot, or something like that.

These are pointless little truths that don't do anyone any good.

This is the art of storytelling, you see. Telling small lies in pursuit of a larger truth. The art of being a reader is being willing to work a little to get at the meat of the story, while at the same time accepting the occasional bent technicality and comma splice.

Anyway. LA was awesome. I was flown out by the lovely folks responsible for one of the winning pictures in the photo contest. Not only are these ladies lovely and willing to get naked for my book, but they are also rocket scientists. Seriously. So while I was out there, I got to take a tour of JPL and look at cool spaceship stuff.

I got to see oranges growing on trees. Which might not seem like a big deal for most of you, but for me it was pretty cool. I also saw lizards running around wild, and can now identify a eucalyptus tree. I got to play some new board games and walk around outside without wearing a coat or hat or anything.

The book signing itself turned out to be a marvelous success. We had a surprising number of people show up, I'm guessing 100 or 120. They had to bring out a bunch of extra chairs, and even then people were standing in the isles and sitting on the floor.

It was a good crowd. I read a few Survival Guides, a poem, and a snippet of book two. I told some stories, answered questions, and got a few laughs. Afterwards, I signed a buttload of books and got to chat one-on-one with folks. Someone brought me wine, someone else brought me an entire care package including memory sticks and tickets to Disneyland.

Though I love the swag, I feel obliged to remind folks that the "Something Cool" rule only applies to books you're mailing in for me to sign.

That said, if you have something you'd *really* like to give me, far be it from me to stop you….

Of particular interest was something that happened halfway through the reading. I was answering some question or another, and I looked out and saw Felicia Day sitting at the back of the crowd.

Now this is the point in the story where I don't exactly know what I should say. Normally when I'm telling a story out of my real life, I go with the truth, even when it's embarrassing or unflattering. I don't know exactly why I feel obliged to do this, but I do.

But for some reason, as I tell this story, I want to lie. I want to pretend I was laid-back about it. Pleased, of course, but also nonchalant. I'd like to portray myself as relaxed… cool. Like the Fonz from Happy Days. Or like the modern-day fantasy author version of the Fonz: Neil Gaiman.

I've seen Neil Gaiman a couple times. He's a great public speaker, funny, insightful. He knows how to work a crowd, and he's irritatingly good at reading his own work out loud.

Even better, he's terribly gracious in person. I once watched him get ambushed by a fan who was desperate to have Gaiman read his manuscript. The guy clung to Gaiman and wouldn't take no for an answer. I found it irritating from a distance of fifteen feet, but Gaiman was unfailingly polite through the whole exchange.

I'm not graceful in that way. I honestly don't know how I come across in public, but sometimes I expect that it's something like the way my old dog, Pup, used to behave.

He was a big liony mutt that I grew up with as a kid. An outside dog who never knew a fence, as we lived out in the country and let him run wild. He a smart dog, and a vicious hunter. He patrolled our house, protecting us from pretty much anything.

Despite the fact that he was a great hunter and defender, he was also very friendly. Unfortunately, it was like he never figured out that he wasn't a puppy anymore. When someone came over for a visit, Pup would jump up on them, putting his paws up on your chest (or your shoulders, if you were shorter) and lick your face.

This is fine behavior if you're a fluffy puppy with milk-breath, or if you're an adult dog hanging out with your family. But Pup treated everyone that way, even when he was full grown, shaggy, and smelling of whatever interesting he had found to roll in.

I suspect that's what I must be like when I'm in public most of the time. I'm this great shaggy beast who gets excited about meeting new people, and does the conversational equivalent of jumping up on people and licking them in the face.

This means that when I want to be socially graceful, I need some sort of internal touchstone about how I should act. So when I see Felicia Day sitting in the back of the room, I think to myself: WWNGD?

I'm guessing he would not, for example, stand up at his own reading and say: "Holy shit everybody! Felicia Day is here!"

So I didn't either. But I tell you, it was a near thing. I'm pretty sure I kept my game face on, and kept answering whatever question I was in the middle of. But the truth is, inside I was standing up and pointing, shouting: "Holy shit! Everybody! Felicia Day!" with all the enthusiasm of a four-year-old who has just seen his first real firetruck drive by on the street.

(Re-reading this, I think I need to add another item to my ever-growing list of Things You Should Never Compare a Woman to Under Any Circumstances. Number Seven: Firetruck. Perhaps any type of truck.

For the record, please note that this particular use of firetruck is being used to describe my reaction to Felicia, not Felicia herself.)

Anyway, after the reading, I managed to grab Felicia and chat for a bit before I started signing books. By this point I'd settled down a bit and was able to behave like a regular human being.

But still, every once in a while, my head would spin around a bit and I would think, "Wha? Who is this? Holy shit. I'm talking with Felicia Day!"


Well folks, due to my tangential nature, this particular blog has ended up being WAY longer than I'd intended. I'll post the rest of it in a day or two, how's that?

In the mean time, if you don't know what the big deal is, you can go check out Dr. Horrible, where Felicia plays Penny. Or The Guild, which Felicia writes and produces in addition to playing the part of Codex.



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Blogger Cory said...

Sounds like you had a blast.

My wife is originally from San Diego and even in Southern California they think that because they are in San Diego County they are in the city of San Diego, so it in not just a visitor thing.

February 14, 2009 12:43 PM  
Blogger Mad Crafter and Geek said...

I'm from "LA" - you know, that great big glob of mess anywhere in LA County? Yeah...Only I primary lived up closer to the Ventura County line...I still had to chuckle and nod at your description of it, though - because it's true. While living here in MN, if I tell someone where I'm from, I'll say "LA", but if I'm talking with someone from Southern California - or more specifically the region between Orange County and Ventura County, I'll say specifically where I'm from.

WRT Felicia Day. I think that we all have people that we're like that about. Again, growing up in LA, I grew up around famous people, went to Church with famous people, went to school with famous people. Now, I am friends in RL with people who write for a living who I hold in great esteem. But that doesn't mean that there isn't That Person (or People) that will make me turn to goo inside and be like *my* great big puppy who drives us all nuts and tries to jump all over everyone in pure puppy like innocence.

I think that's human nature.

February 14, 2009 12:59 PM  
Blogger Aerron said...

Pat, your inner-dork is showing! Let it shine, pal!

Oh, and get back to work.

We need that book.

February 14, 2009 3:32 PM  
Anonymous Matt_R.L. said...

I know this isn't the proper forum, so I must beg your indulgence in advance. Nevertheless: Is Book 2 still scheduled to be released this coming April (as per Or is that just a 'best estimate' that likely won't hold?

February 14, 2009 3:46 PM  
Blogger KillerKitKat said...

Hey Pat, I'm new to your blog though not your book - only found out you had one a couple of days ago after a tip-off from a friend - and I've got a question about sending in books to be signed. I'm from the UK - which address should I post to? Does it make a difference? I want to make sure my book gets to you okay :) as for the "something cool", if only I could send you the weather, ha ha... >_<

February 14, 2009 8:00 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Hey, Pat. Have you noticed that Joaquin Phoenix is trying to look like you?

February 14, 2009 9:13 PM  
Anonymous Guerilla Publicist said...

I don't give a sh!tpotato. She's hot. She has a sexy forehead and a voice like smoke and honey. So there. I probably would've just started chewing on the carpet if I saw her. Yum.

For the record, when I go to the cottage, our outhouse is in a different township than the cottage itself.

February 15, 2009 12:38 AM  
Anonymous Guerilla Publicist said...

I like nekked engineers too. They take people's dreams, and they apply knowledge of stresses and dynamics and various physics, and they make dreams concrete and functional. And sometimes they're nekked. Magical.

February 15, 2009 12:43 AM  
Anonymous Geddy said...

DAMMIT PAT! I was there at this reading. And I was so entranced with you, that I didn't notice Felicia Day was there. If you would have said something, I could have gone and drooled over her personally.

Thanks for nothing Pat, thanks for nothing...

February 15, 2009 1:16 AM  
Blogger gapyeargirl123 said...

I don't think we particularly mind that you made it a really long and rambling post, Pat. The extra little stories in the middle make it far more interesting. Rambling is good. *g*

~dragongirl, with her new name for her new blog.

February 15, 2009 6:28 AM  
Anonymous Juju said...

What are the other six "Things You Should Never Compare a Woman to Under Any Circumstances"? Did I miss that part of your blog?
I'd be really interessted to know that...

By he way, Germany is waiting for you to do a reading over here. I just wanted you to know.

February 15, 2009 8:56 AM  
OpenID spryng said...

I see your being-fascinated-at-seeing-oranges-on-trees and raise you a still-amazed-that-blackberries-grow-on-bushes. I wanted to laugh, being from the great land of oranges, but then I've only recently seen an apple tree... You should really go back when the citruses are flowering. Beautiful stuff.

February 15, 2009 9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure I need a "WWNGD?" t-shirt now.


February 15, 2009 7:49 PM  
Blogger logankstewart said...

A small portion of Book 2. I feel sad. And empty. I can't wait for TWMF to come out.

Good for you, Pat, keeping your cool and all. I'm only mildly jealous.

February 15, 2009 8:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


February 16, 2009 1:38 AM  
Blogger marky said...

You're living the dream, Pat. Enjoy it; you fully deserve it for The Name Of The Wind. Just keep a hanky handy for the drool, and keep food out of your beard, and you're set for all the fame you richly deserve.

WV: hoottin. As in half of a Hoottin-nany!

February 16, 2009 6:45 AM  
Blogger Sailor Matt said...

I was going to say that you're a lucky guy, Pat, but I think you've earned your "luck." That doesn't much make it luck anymore, eh? Anyway, enjoy.

February 16, 2009 10:22 AM  
Anonymous Gryffin said...

Pat, if it's any comfort, my biggest brush with celebrity was Naomi Judd the first time she was at The Wellness Conference. Pretty sure I did a "Beaky Buzzard" from the old Warner Bros cartoons. You comported yourself well.

By the way, did you see that NOTW is now in Britain, doing interviews? The book is so powerful, it has gotten itself another job!
(Actually News of the World, but my way made the story readable.)

February 16, 2009 10:53 PM  
Anonymous JDCB said...

So you got to play some new board games eh? I've been playing Settlers of Catan quite a bit since I saw you mention it on here. Looked it up, checked it out, and it's pretty good...

February 17, 2009 12:25 PM  
Blogger Lucio Rodriguez said...

F'n ay man, I am furious with myself. I live in L.A. proper, about 10 minutes away from that particular Borders store and cannot believe I missed you. I am glad you liked my city. L.A. is an extension of my identity so that means in some round about way you think I am awesome too. Talk about a slippery slope eh?

I eagerly await book 2.

Much love from Cali,

February 19, 2009 2:21 AM  
Blogger Caligonis said...

While reading the book (and I am still reading it - yeah, you could kill me - but I simply don´t want it to end, so mayby I will REALLY slowly reading it till the second book is coming out) I was thinking two things:

1. I am jealous at this guy for writing that great. Hell!

2. What is the person writing such a great book like?

Well, the first point remains. On the person behind the letters black on white there is now a little bit of light. And I like, what I see. You bring me to laugh and its great.

Sweet kisses from Germany - or Russia, which country you like best.

February 22, 2009 9:33 AM  
Anonymous Shavron said...

After reading this blog post am I the only one who wants to hear Neil Gaiman give his best Fonz "Ayee!!"?

March 18, 2009 8:44 PM  
Anonymous LNJ said...

Hope you enjoyed the wine. I taught Vanessa Redgrave how to spin wool. I can still feel the flush up my neck from the moment when I recognized her. That was at least 29 years ago. The fire truck thrill is yours to keep.

April 7, 2009 9:05 AM  

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