On the Roller Coaster (Plus, New Developments in the Window-Sill Wars: Weapons and Confusion)

The wind-up Triceratops eyes his "Bullet," a train

Now what?

Anyone who writes a book and is fortunate enough to get it published knows that the period between the last bit of editing and the day the book goes on sale is a roller coaster of emotion.

We look for signs that our books will fly off the shelves and be loved by readers everywhere. In these several months we see everything with a new intensity, like brand new parents who suddenly see the world through their baby’s eyes and realize how beautiful everything is, and how fraught with hazards like electrical plugs, Drano, Lego sets, and hot dogs. Is that crocus now coming up in my yard a sign of good things to come? That robin—what’s he doing here so early, and why is he so fat?

And then, suddenly, the first review appears—one of the so-called “advance” reviews, which appear long before publication so that bookstores, prison libraries and others can get an idea of what’s coming down the pike. One such advance publication is Booklist, published by the American Library Association but available only to subscribers. What an author covets here is a so-called “starred” review. Kind of pathetic, isn’t it?—that we still need a star to be happy, as if we were all still nine years old and had just turned in our dioramas of the lost colony of Roanoke made with Popsicle sticks.

Well, I confess that I am just as needy as every other author. I may as well be nine years old. My wife would say I am nine, possibly eight. So I am pleased to say that Booklist just gave In the Garden of Beasts a starred review. I’m told it includes the word “brilliant,” but I am so pathologically thin-skinned—so much a terrified nine-year-old—that I do not read my reviews. Friends will tell me about the good ones, certain other friends will tell me about the bad ones. My dear departed mother would have told me all of them were good, and that no matter what anyone said, she still loved me. 

Some other nice news recently arrived: Shelf-Awareness.com listed the top ten forthcoming books most in demand by bookstores, and mine was number three. Tina Fey’s new book, Bossypants, is number one. I forgive her. Honestly, how can one woman be so smart and sexy at the same time?

So, I try to level myself with the hunt for my next book. (I may have found it, but I’m not sure yet, and I never kiss and tell.) And, for better or worse, the events on my window sill are proving a significant distraction. There remains in my office an overall sense of foreboding.


The Window-Sill Wars IV: Weapons and Confusion

As the tension on my window sill mounts, both sides have begun acquiring armaments. The Nunzillas took delivery of a drone aircraft, and are frantically trying to figure out how to fly it, since it has no obvious means of propulsion. And, a source of further chagrin: the aircraft appears not to have any missiles or machine-guns or anything.   

The Nunzillas acquired a drone, which is really a paper plane

The Nunzillas' disappointment is obvious

Wind-up Triceratops and his allies also had a set-back. Mistakenly, they acquired a Japanese Bullet train, confusing the name for something lethal that comes out of a gun; they are now seeking to devise a means of throwing the train at opposing forces.

The wind-up Triceratops eyes his "Bullet," a train

This is a bullet?

Meanwhile, the Red Rose Army continues its slow advance. Stairs are especially difficult.

Red Rose Army figurines march up stairs

The Red Rose Army struggling with stairs

Mysteriously, and unbeknownst to the rest of the army, one member has quietly dropped from the column. His disappearance has thus far gone unremarked. What can he be up to?

A figurine quietly leaves the Red Army column

This cannot bode well

Another ominous sign: The war correspondents have begun to gather, looking jaunty and cool. Book contracts have been signed. They know trouble is coming. The only question is when.

A teddy bear in sunglasses sits in a rocker--a journalist, clearly

The foreign correspondent, in repose

For now it is quiet. Too quiet. Way too quiet. Really really quiet.

Seattle at dusk

The city at dusk, bracing for the approach of night

You Are Here

Erik Larson is the author of six previous national bestsellers—The Splendid and the Vile, Dead Wake, In the Garden of Beasts, Thunderstruck, The Devil in the White City, and Isaac’s Storm— which have collectively sold more than twelve million copies. His books have been published in nearly forty countries.

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