By Julia Buckley
We braved the rain and the El today to go to downtown Chicago and the Printer's Row Book Fair; I had a signing spot in the MWA booth for two lovely hours, before the rains came. My sherpa was my husband, a veteran of public transportation since his high school days. I, however, never quite took to the El; I find it about as comforting as riding on a rocket must be. There were times--far too many to count--when I complained to my co-passengers (my husband and two sons) that the train was rocking too much, hinting at derailment.
My husband scoffed at me. "Do you want me to notify the conductor that the El is jostling my wife?"
"Yes," I said.
Somehow we made it to Chicago, despite the fright of an El ride.
This futuristic subterranean hallway smelled vaguely of the elephant house at the zoo, but the boys found it exciting. I was just glad to be using my own feet as a form of locomotion.
We soon found, upon ascending into sunlight once again, that we had taken a train which left us rather far from our destination (Polk and Dearborn). So we walked and walked. I told my husband that he was not a very reliable Sherpa, to which he responded in most husband-like style that he simply would not be my guide next time, if that was how I felt.
A man visiting from Kentucky gave us instructions about how to find Polk Street. This is humiliating because A)We live fifteen minutes from the city and B)My husband has worked downtown all his life ("Just not that PART of downtown," he insisted).
It was so humid that even the pigeons were resting.
At long last we found our wonderful MWA booth; my table mate was Jess Lourey, and presiding over the whole event was MWA Midwest President Julie Hyzy, who is doing a terrific job as our leader, due to her unending effervescence. If you've met Julie, you know what I mean.
Jess and I hadn't met since Bouchercon 2006, but she was just as lovely and charming as ever--and she sold out every single copy the bookseller had of her Murder by Month mysteries. She is, apparently, a rising star in the mystery world.
Her head hasn't gotten too big with success, however; she was still willing to pass out flyers for the MWA tent before she made her nine hour drive back to Minnesota. After the two-hour stint that Jess and I shared in a humid glare, but with an occasional cooling breeze, the rain came sweeping in on poor Sam Reeves and Michael Black, the MWA stalwarts who manned the table next. I can only hope that they and their books weren't soaked by the torrents we watched out of our El car on the jostling journey home.
And by the way, it was a successful day for me, as well: I sold all but one of the copies of THE DARK BACKWARD; a most rewarding feeling. I even decided to give my Sherpa another chance. After all, he got me there and back in one piece.
Mystery Writer Jess Lourey approaches passersby with flyers for the MWA.