Image of a swan, photographed in Mendocino, CA

So I’m steeling myself now for the upcoming tour for my new book, In the Garden of Beasts. The tour begins May 10, when the book goes on sale, and will take me to Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Nashville, and other far-flung places. Cate Blanchett has agreed to accompany me for the entire journey. And Congress is going to abolish the income tax.

A book tour is a fairly grueling affair, a little like a miniature political campaign. What makes it especially trying for me is that I really don’t enjoy flying. I’m tallish—six-foot, two-inches—and people sitting in front of me generally don’t like it when I put my feet up on their shoulders. I tend to get claustrophobic on even short flights, especially in those little regional jets all the airlines now seem to favor.

I hasten to add that I don’t get scarily claustrophobic—as in whimpering in fetal position—but just enough to make me feel a little panicky. I prefer window seats, because I get to look outside at the vast expanse of sky and sun, provided of course that it’s daytime. Night flights only compound my angst. On the plus side, I have not yet lost my sense of amazement at the very fact of flight—that this tube of metal is flying at 40,000 feet at speeds in excess of 400 miles an hour through air so cold it would freeze your corneas in a nanosecond, and sometimes this metal is so old it fractures and provides a welcome gust of fresh air into the cabin.

My publicist, Penny Simon, secretly delights in arranging my periodic book tours, because she gets to make me do things I might otherwise not want to do, like fly. She loves to boss me around, and she doesn’t let me whine. I admit that I am reasonably adept at whining, especially when I have to get up at four a.m. to be at a TV station for a one-minute interview. Happily, at each city on the tour I get placed in the hands of an able media escort, someone who is far more charismatic than I and possesses a better car and, if necessary, can bail me out of jail. This has not been necessary yet, though I suspect it is only a matter of time.

Erik's antique cell phone

Primitive technology: What should Erik do?

I plan to file dispatches to this website from the tour at various intervals. Which raises a question. Right now all I possess by way of a cellphone is an ancient Nokia which is so old that when I pull it out I have to crank it to get it to make a call. In order to update my website, or even—oh lord, am I even saying this—or even to Tweet, I’ll need something with a good deal more data capacity. So, here is my question: Should I get an iPhone or a Blackberry, or even, as has been suggested to me, an iPad? If you’d like to waste a little time and weigh in on this question, please feel free to email me at Erik@ErikLarsonBooks.com.
I’ll understand, of course, if you have better things to do.

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The Window-Sill Wars VIII: No Country for All the Pretty Horses

 

Pretty painted Swedish horses on the march

The Swedish Horses advance

In any conflict, there are always those opportunistic souls who seek to capitalize on turmoil. The Swedish Horses, who ordinarily could be counted on to remain neutral, have now suddenly begun advancing toward Erik’s office window sill—taking advantage, clearly, of the momentary disarray of the Secret Red Rose Army, last spotted struggling to remove itself from a large cast-iron frying pan, to which it had been misdirected after an act of torture yielded false intelligence.

The Swedish Horses are a proud legion, whose brilliant war colors cast fear into all who see them pass. Their splendor is such that men look upon them with fear and awe, and termites watch with unquenchable desire.

But there is more: The most terrifying rumor of all has begun to circulate among the various forces converging on the sill. There is talk—dark talk indeed—that the dead have awakened and a force of zombies may now be marshalling in an adjacent room.

Two zombie figurines

Can it be?

These creatures are said to glow in the dark, though proof of this remains elusive as currently surveillance is restricted to daylight hours. It is this talk of a zombie resurgence that, more than any other rumor, has struck terror into the countryside, and into finger puppets everywhere.

A knited finger puppet clearly expressing terror

Fear

The spies continue their bleak watch. Rat has been awarded the much-coveted but rarely awarded double-R status for his role in planting the faulty intelligence that so effectively confounded the Secret Red Rose Army. The shadows, between a stand of files and a Rosetta Stone Italian Level 5 box, are where he is most at home.

Realistic rat, in shadows

Rat, gloating

Oh these are woeful times indeed! One day men will write of this (and so will swans–well, only one swan, actually)–how the mere addition of a wind-up Triceratops pencil-sharpener upset the balance of power on Erik’s office window sill, a landscape that for so long had known only peace.

Image of a swan, photographed in Mendocino, CA

To sing of brave deeds