by Eryk Pruitt
When a lot of people think about Texas, they think of crazy people chock-full of beef brisket and state pride. I was born and raised in Texas, and recently returned for a two-week book tour to promote my latest novel What We Reckon and I can tell you first hand…
…all that shit is true.
Yep, Texas is a place like no other. There have some of the friendliest people in the country, but also some of the strangest. From tacos to barbecue to kolaches to spare ribs and sausages, the varying cultural influences can be felt in their "native" cuisine all throughout the state. And speaking of culture, Texas sure lays claim to some top notch literature.
Which is why Texas is the perfect place for a small book tour.
1. INTERABANG BOOKS: 10720 Preston Rd. Ste. 10009B – Dallas TX
The newcomer to the Dallas lit scene has announced its arrival with a wallop. Featuring Big D's best stocked mystery section and a lively social media presence, it's a no-brainer for a crime fiction author to try and score a reading here. General manager Jeremy Ellis has a top-notch event staff working for him, including Carlos (who's guiding hand helped launch Wild Detectives into a south Dallas literary powerhouse the past couple years) and Tom, who knows how to make an author feel like a movie star.
Michael Pool (Debt Crusher, Texas Two-Step) co-hosted the event with me and provided plenty of questions and material to introduce my work to the audience which included some of my best friends of all time, as well as my first kiss, my junior high girlfriend, my former boss, and my high school bully.
As of this writing, there were still autographed copies of my novel on their bookshelves. Order here: https://www.interabangbooks.com/book/9781943818648
2. NOIR AT THE BAR: Texas Literary Festival Edition – Weather Up, E. Cesar Chavez, Austin, TX
Mike McCrary is STILL waiting on a drink.
Imagine the hipster-est bar of all time. Staff it with guys too busy waxing their facial hair or muddling their basil. Sprinkle in a healthy dash of DGAF and you have the location of Austin's Noir at the Bar, held during the Texas Lit Festival weekend. BookPeople's Scott Montgomery was the perfect host as he introduced a packed house to the dark fiction stylings of Gabino Iglesias, Meg Gardinier, Bradley Spinelli, Jeff Abbott, myself, and the aforementioned Mr. McCrary. What a crowd! They reacted perfectly to every reader with a mixture of laughter, gasps, and revulsion and the only other thing they needed was a goddamn cocktail.
3. BOOKPEOPLE: 603 N. Lamar, Austin, TX
Once again, Scott Montgomery was the perfect host, but this time with a panel discussion inside Texas' largest independent bookstore. Scott curates the mystery section—known as MysteryPeople—so he knows how to partner authors for fun and exciting literary discussions. This time, he treated the audience to a conversation about noir and hardboiled fiction with Down & Out Magazine editor Rick Ollerman, Steady Trouble author Mike McCrary, and myself. An enthusiastic audience was encouraged to participate, and afterward, Scott organized a book signing.
Autographed copies of mine and McCrary's books can be found on the shelves or online. http://www.bookpeople.com/book/9781943818648
4. MURDER BY THE BOOK: 2342 Bissonnet St., Houston, TX
Houston still recovers from the damage Hurricane Harvey caused, as well as the hangover from their World Series win, still less than a week old by the time I arrived to promote my book. Still, the folks that made it out on a Tuesday night asked plenty of questions and showed genuine interest. It's no wonder, since the shelves at Murder by the Book are stocked with the local Who's Who of crime fiction. A noir author will find plenty of his friends on the wall and event coordinator John Kwiatkowski and Sam Mayer were very generous hosts, especially for directing us to the neighborhood bar for pre- and post-event cocktails.
They brought plenty of stock for me to sign, which can be found on the shelves at http://www.murderbooks.com/book/9781943818648
5. THE BOSSLIGHT: 123 E. Main St., Nacogdoches, TX
I finally found the building I want to haunt when I die.
It's a gift shop, a bookstore, and a community gathering space all nestled inside a historic, quaint, downtown Nacogdoches storefront. Owner Tim Bryant—himself an accomplished fiction author—hosts a perfect evening and bought several copies of What We Reckon, Dirtbags, and even a Southern Gothic anthology (New Lit Salon Press) featuring my 2014 short story, "Them Riders." I was in the middle of signing books and lively conversation with Bryant's guests when I look up to see the Piney Woods poet laureate Joe Lansdale had joined us. The Stone Fort's hotel bar provided an excellent atmosphere for a nightcap in this otherwise wild and raucous college town. Nacogdoches is the perfect stop between the larger cities during a book tour.
Of course, they have autographed stock on their shelves, as well as a full library of Mr. Lansdale's work, including a T-shirt!
6. WILD DETECTIVES: 314 W. Eighth St., Dallas, TX
I'm a sucker for a good Noir at the Bar.
Since Wild Detectives serves coffee and booze as well as books, it was the ideal choice to host Dallas' second Noir at the Bar. This incarnation delivered gritty, gripping fiction from Big D's own Harry Hunsicker, Kathleen Kent, and J. Suzanne Frank (and myself),but also fellow Texans Max Booth III, Michael Pool and, once again, Mr. Mike McCrary, who's selection from Genuinely Dangerous killed both nights and gets better each time I hear him read it. WD had books on hand for buyers to purchase, and will buy you a drink if you order the book from them: http://thewilddetectives.com/gustavo/initiatives/the-wd-bring-you-the-book-buy-you-the-drink/
One thing I took away from my trip to Texas is that moderation is highly overrated. Don't order a half-pound of BBQ when a full pound is available. The liquor tax is lower there, so go ahead and buy the 1.75 liter bottle, and don't visit one bookstore when you can visit them all.
Holler at me for dinner recommendations.