Saturday, February 5, 2011

Cherie Priest Book Tour Review

Universtiy Book store 1-27-11

The short version: Steam punk/Southern Gothic author once famed for her blue hair gives a blue reading.

Author Cherie Priest came to the University book store to read from her newest novel “Bloodshot”.

Ms. Priest is the kind of writer many authors aspire to become, having avoided being pigeon holed into one particular genre and I might add her Blog is one worth reading.

The author first came to my attention when her Steam Punk novel, “Bone Shaker,” appeared in book stores a few years back. (If you need me to explain the Steam Punk genre, how about just buying her book)

Ms. Priest has now moved into the Urban Fantasy arena with her newest effort “Bloodshot.” It is about a modern day Vampire/thief/mercenary hired to a job that puts her in personal jeopardy. Along with a series of unusual characters, both living and walking dead, the book is reminiscent of a traditional hardboiled detective novel.

Sure maybe the whole world is sick to death of Vampires, but along with Swedish girls wearing Dragon Tattoos, books about Dracula’s relatives are keeping books stores open, so stop complaining. Oh there is a twist.

Here the main character, Raylene Pendle, is a paranoid, blood sucker with a big dose of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. In her research, Ms. Priest found some of the older tales of vampires had the living dead with traits of OCD which the author incorporated into the novel. Does it work? Well, this blog is supposed to be about the author’s presentation but I did arrive early to University Books, and took the opportunity to read the first part of “Bloodshot” coming away with a positive impression.

The writing is in first person and well paced. Ms. Priest sets up the ordinary
world and heads straight into the main characters call to adventure so fast that it would make Joseph Campbell proud. I paid her the highest compliment by saying that the opening of “Bloodshot” is reminiscent of the pacing found in a Raymond Chandler story. Ms. Priest replied she really didn’t like Chandler (OUCH) and was more a fan of Dashiell Hammett seeing her main character as more of a modern day Continental Op.

Author sighting: Urban fantasy author Kat Richardson, sitting in the front row tonight. When you’re done reading “Bloodshot” check out Richardson’s Greywalker series.

One more thing I really liked was found in the beginning of “Bloodshot’s” acknowledgements. The author sends a shout out to Duane, the Sci-Fi buyer at University Book Store, and the boys up at Third Place Books. Thanks for giving the Indies the credit they deserve Ms. Priest.

The Reading.

Duane, the MC, starts the introduction on time (Love it) The author talks a short time about the book, research, style and jumps right in to the reading. She seems like a nice genuine person and is endearing to the staff at U-books. Her post Q & A session demonstrated she can connect with an audience which is important if you want to sell books.

One of the pleasures listening to established authors is when they can answer questions about previous novels which might inspire the audience to purchase an
author’s earlier book. The Urban fantasy crowd is by far the most passionate, dedicated and curious of fans. It’s not enough that they want to know about the plot and the book but these fans really want to understand the Author’s world and what will happen to various characters in future novels. It makes it interesting and trust me; those questions don’t come up when Nicholas Sparks is on stage.

Not every author is a good reader. Ms. Priest admits this about herself. I find that quality in an author forgivable, understanding and even charming. It lowers
expectations and connects with people. Actually she sells herself short as, Ms. Priest has a fine stage presence.

She starts the reading by leaning far across the podium and into the crowd, like a high school track star at the starting line. There are other authors, whose body language show fear, trying to gage audience acceptance but when authors write about aggressive characters, the source of that aggression often comes out in the reading. Ms. Priest reads with an unapologetic aplomb as if to say, like it or not; these are my words and I stand behind them.

The sprinters analogy is appropriate because I thought someone in the audience must have fired a staring pistol as she began. Word after word came out at a steady fast pace that never let up. As the reading goes longer and longer (over thirty straight minutes and over 8000 words,). I try to keep up with her Vampire heroin, and the kick ass characters, but the reading is too long. At this pace, I become light headed and start to lose interest.

The other issue I have is with Ms. Priest’s choice of reading R rated language in a public place of business that left a stain upon an otherwise enjoyable presentation. I don’t mind profanity, in fact I use it often, but there are levels of profanity in the English language and though I never, repeat NEVER, want to see an author censored in print, I must admit that the use of Blue language during a free public event is troubling.

She went so far as to comment on the language before the reading as a warning but that did nothing for the public shopping in the store who might have walked by after her reading began.

I keep looking around, relieved to see no children in the immediate area and hope an offended parent or shopper listening might leave and never return to one of Seattle’s few Independent book stores.

The occasional damns and hells are fine in Author readings but the evening could have been made less uncomfortable had Ms. Priest insert edited language for the F-bombs and C-word instead of using them in their full glory

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