The Denver Chapter of the Book Tour
When I told my brother I was coming to Denver to visit independent bookstores, he suggested I contact West Side Books, a store in the trendy, hot neighborhood where he lives.
I emailed the store and mentioned that my brother had recommended I stop by. I received a sweet reply from Matt, a store employee, who informed me they were carrying my book, and they were surprised to find out I was related to one of their best customers. I made an appointment to visit the store and meet Lois Harvey, owner and a neighborhood icon.
I—and you, I’m betting—could spend hours in West Side Books. A maze of shiny new and musty used books of every genre and format, it mesmerizes with its variety and surprise finds. But the real treat is Lois herself, a true book lover who seems to have read every book ever published. At least I failed to mention one she wasn’t at least familiar with; many she could discuss with impressive analysis.
One thing I have learned on this book tour is the power of personal connections. Nearly every event for my book that succeeded did so because I knew someone at the store (or knew someone who knew someone) or because someone I knew had enough friends that were interested in books and liked to talk to authors. Other events succeeded because I had a history in the area—an alma mater or an early stop in my winding career path.
Later in the same day that I met Lois, I had reserved a table at Bookbar, another Westside indie store in Denver that has a relationship with my publisher’s sales team. Although the turnout for my book signing there was disappointing, I was surprised by a visit from a friend I hadn’t seen for at least 25 years. Sandra Dallas, author of 30 women’s historical novels published by St. Martin’s Press, stopped by. The joy of seeing her and catching up with our similar career paths—from journalism to fiction—trumped the discouraging turnout.
A side note: Denver today is not the city I lived in 21 years ago. It’s younger and hipper and full of millennials. When I worked there, the western edge of downtown was Larimer Square. Everything beyond that was destitute, although with the construction of the Coors Field baseball stadium, things were picking up. Today, most of the action is west of Wazee—the new train station, the new light rail connections, and dozens of new bars, restaurants, and office buildings. There are also two new locations of the iconic Tattered Cover Bookstore, neither of which was carrying my book.
My friend Janet and I really loved the look and ambiance of the Cooper Lounge, on the second floor of the train station, recommended by my friend Barb McVicker Halverson. It is a beautifully reconstructed vision of old train-travel glamour. A few “wakeful drunks” and “Lebowskis” were consumed there recently. I won’t say by whom.
Next: The long and not-so-winding road