Chris Benjamin: Bloggin' From the Road - Part 3

Chris Benjamin strikes back with part 3 of his Drive-by Saviours book tour blog diary!

We left Lachutes in what we thought was plenty of time. But we hit Friday afternoon rush-hour traffic at the outskirts of Montreal. “City squirrels go to the cottage and their kids come back from school,” Jeff said, his fingers tapping frantic rhythm on the wheel.

We crawled another hour-and-a-half to our turnoff, then bolted through downtown as the rain hammered everything. We drove by the Canadian Pacific sign and scanned the streetscape with stretched eyes until Jeff pulled the truck into the drop off. We fist bumped; I grabbed my bags and ran, glancing at the gates I passed until I found Campbellton and flashed my ticket. “Moncton?”

“Yep. Hurry down and just say ‘Moncton’ at the foot of the stairs.”

From my seat I texted Jeff. “Made it.”

Seventeen hours later, the red-headed Hertz guy picked me up at the train station and drove me 20 minutes to the airport for paperwork. He’s a Moncton lifer, spent time in the states but after 9/11 things got too weird there and he came to the small town he knows and loves.

We were all set to go until I gave them my wife’s credit card - no can do. And mine was in Halifax. No cash deposit. I was stuck at Moncton airport, two hours until my reading in Fredericton. The Hertz guy (another one) asked the Budget girl if they could rent me a car on cash deposit. Nope, but Delta could, back downtown.

Tristan needed to get some fresh air anyway, he said. He’s a Nova Scotia boy, north shore, stuck in Moncton too long. “I hate it,” he said. “It’s a giant industrial park that people happen to live in. It’s ugly and there’s nothing to do.” I found the outskirts pretty anyway, with the fall colours, but he hopes to move to Halifax as soon as he can.

Delta was empty. I knocked on the glass and a guy came out with a broom and dustpan. “You the one who called?”

It was an all paper, no computer business, with a mandatory vehicle walk-around, and several spots to initial on the long form. He put my cash deposit in an envelope, sealed and signed it, had me check to make sure the tank was full, pointed me to the highway and I was gone, red-lined to Fredericton, only 10 minutes late for the reading.

It was a small group but I sold a few books and met a women who’d already red Drive-by Saviours and is recommending it to her book club. And I met Corey Redekop, author of Shelf Monkey - soon to be on Canada Reads top 40 must-read list. We bantered on canlit and the mneed for authors to embrace our inner pimps - be self promoters that is.

I nabbed a few hours sleep at an old friend’s place, a suburban household of 11 - her stepdaughter, several international billets, a visiting German family of five, and me. “I’ll take the ISBN and get it back in Germany,” the mister told me. “They’ll order in anything for me!” And that’s how the book tour pays off, I think, the face-to-face that gets your book in a German store before it’s even translated.

Posted on October 19th, 2010

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