A couple of years ago, I got invited to the Vegas Valley Bookfest. There were probably a dozen or two dozen authors. I got to meet and talk to Walter Mosley, Chip Kidd, Diana Wagman, Todd Goldberg, Elizabeth Crane, and a bunch of other folks. We hung around with each other a bit, because, let's face it, Las Vegas is NOT a reading town. So it's not like there was a lot of competition from fans.
The guy who wrote Dances With Wolves with there, and he didn't make a good impression. He was giving a talk before a bunch of us mystery writers were scheduled to appear on a panel, and he went way over his time. When a timid elderly volunteer tried to tell him it was someone else's turn, he yelled at her that he wouldn't stop until he was good and ready.
They paid our way down and put us up in Sam's Town. It was miles and miles from the strip. Sam's Town is where you go when you die after having lived a very, very bad life. The gamblers are all elderly, crippled, smokers. They stand before the slot machines, balancing their drinks on the edge of their walkers, cigarettes clenched between their teeth, in a fog of gray smoke. Their expressions are hopeless.
Four or five times a day, there was a light show with a talking animatronic wolf and bear. The whole place had a kind of gold miner theme. It was hell's version of Disneyland.
The best part of the trip was getting to meet Thomas Perry and talk to him as we were ferried to events. He was a nice guy wearing a baseball cap. At the time, he was writing a book set partially in Portland. Todd Goldberg chimed in that he had a friend who owned a strip joint in Portland. Somehow I found myself telling them and the rest of the van about these horrible "lingerie modeling places" they have in Portland. In inappropriate detail.
Anyway, it was fun to read a review of Perry's latest book in today's NYT. It was like "wow - I actually met him! I babbled embarrassing things!"