So, I’m back from my overseas adventure and finally recovered from the jet lag. The 20 hour return trip was… withering… but I can’t tell you how nice it was to walk down the stairs into baggage claim and see my kids jumping up and down, enthusiastically shouting “Dad! Dad!”
My first stop was in London, where I met up with my traveling companions — Don Reo, his wife Judy and Damon Wayans (who has been a friend since I wrote MAJOR PAYNE). Here we are at Buckingham Palace (which is a significant location in Book 3, so it was nice to visit it in person.)
Judy was taking the picture, but you can imagine her on the other side of the camera. Actually, that’s not fair. Here’s a picture with Judy in it:
A high point of the London leg of the trip was meeting Nick Lake, my editor at HarperCollins UK. We went to a great, traditional English pub, where we drank Guinness and hung out. Really cool guy. NIGHTMARE ACADEMY launched very well there (in fact, Nick said it was one of the two best launches of his career) and I got to tell him a little bit about my plans for the future of the series, which he seemed to dig.
After London, it was on to San Sebastian, Spain via… private jet. Now, I (of course) didn’t hire this jet — I flew coach to Europe and back. But Don and Damon were kind enough to invite me and it was… really nice. The pilots left the cockpit door open, so you could see through the windshield, which was intensely cool — something you never get to do.
San Sebastian is a beautiful seaside Spanish city, full of narrow, cobbled streets and tapas bars filled with excellent food.
On most days, I imagine the city is fairly quiet, but not this time — the place was packed with visitors who had come to see the Springsteen concert (which is why we were there). Don Reo has been a long time friend of Clarence (the Big Man) Clemons — if you don’t know, he’s the sax player for the E-Street Band. Clarence invited him (and, by extension, the rest of us) to the concert.
The night before the show, we had dinner with Clarence at a wonderful seafood restaurant. At this time of year, the sun doesn’t really set in Europe until 11 pm, so everything starts later. We began eating around 9:30 and stayed there until well after midnight. The food was incredible — roasted peppers, fresh bread, anglerfish (which Damon insisted on calling “Angerfish”). None of us spoke Spanish and none of the waiters spoke English, but one of the other customers took pity on us and helped us navigate the menu and order.
The next night was the show. As great as it was, I’ll probably most remember getting there early and sitting in the middle of a nearly empty stadium, watching the band play songs for the sound check. From where we were standing, I could have thrown a football to any of the band members — if I had any ability to throw a football, that is. The whole thing felt like a relaxed, private concert:
Later that night, the show began and it was incredible. That same stadium filled with 65 thousand people and the energy was intense. We also got a chance to meet Springsteen, who was extremely nice, and said that his kids were huge fans of MAJOR PAYNE. I wanted to say “Why don’t you get them to read NIGHTMARE ACADEMY…” but it wasn’t really that kind of moment.
After Spain, Damon and I headed on to Paris, which is probably the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen. I spent a lot of time in the Louvre Gardens, which contains an astonishingly cool French carnival. Here’s a couple pics from it:
I also got to meet with Natacha Derevitsky, my French editor. Book 1 of NA comes out in France in January of 2010, so it’s still some distance away. She was very nice and it seems like the series is going to be in great hands there. She also told me that they plan to use some of the art from my website as the cover. It’ll be great to see the terrific work of my friend, J.P. Targete, used that way.
On the final day of the trip, Damon and I ate dinner at a restaurant that had a spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower. In fact, here’s the view:
Great friends, wonderful sights, just a terrific trip all around… although I was still thrilled to get home and see my wife and kids. I’m off to the Conestoga fantasy convention in Oklahoma tomorrow and hope to see some of you folks there. And I promise to continue the series of posts of different movies I’ve worked on when I get back.