When Portland-based author George Wright pitched a crazy idea to me last summer, I had no clue how sane he was. As you’ve heard by now, George wanted to put together a tour in which eight Oregon authors would visit eight independent bookstores in Oregon in eight weeks from September into November. Not every author was expected to show up at every gig. There would be 28 of us sharing the load.
Diabolical daring and ferocious fun — bringing writers together like George Wright did for the Crazy 8′s Tour. Eight locations, eight authors and each with only five minutes to speak (why not eight? I don’t know.) But George gave us five. Five minutes to tell readers something noble about this life we live—something good and generous and real and maybe a little dark. Or plenty dark, and plenty dirty too. Why not? Why not just let it all hang out there? The Crazy 8′s Tour was like Cirque du Soleil but without the fancy outfits. We did have a trapeze though, and authors flung themselves through the room, thrilling everyone with their with daring turn of phrases and leaps of logic. And there, stretched from one insane height to another, we had a tight-rope and writers walking that slender line, balanced between truth and fantasy and joy and sorrow and inhalation and the all important and sometimes overused exhalation. We had lion tamers, jugglers, contortionists and clowns. And of course we had our most generous and gracious Master of Ceremonies George Wright. What a time you created, George. What a time. What a time. What a time. A couple dozen authors, hundreds of readers, thousands of miles under eight big wonderful tents. Bravo.
Meeting again with bookstore friends. Feeling the great vibes of being surrounded by books and book people. All inspiring. A special pleasure was hearing other authors’ stories of how and why they work, among them Karen Spears Zacharias, Jane Kirkpatrick, Brian Doyle, Molly Gloss, Naseem Rakha, Ursula Le Guin, and on and on. What a great group of writers, and I was privileged to be among them. Kudos to George, who put all this together.
—R. Gregory Nokes
There were drugs (statins and baby aspirin). There were hot women (mostly menopausal). There were bald-faced liars (bellying up to the bars). These were Crazy 8s Merry Pranksters. Storytellers on a raucous romp, crisscrossing the state in pursuit of unforgettable tales. Rumor has it a rollicking good time was had by authors, readers and booksellers alike. The only thing missing was the 1939 International Harvester bus, but who could afford the gas for such a beast? Perhaps next time there will be a Crazy 8s Bookmobile. Hold on Mable!! Watch out Oprah!!
Karen Spears Zacharias, author, A Silence of Mockingbirds: The Memoir of a Murder.
The Crazy 8s tour was a blast. It was so much fun getting to listen to the other authors and the crowds were so enthusiastic. The tour was one of my best experiences as an author.
My participation in the Crazy Eights Author Tour was the high point of my promotional year. I published a new book in July so my travels with the tour helped sales. More importantly for me, however, was the chance the tour gave me to meet and talk to other authors. It is clear to me that no matter how successful we are or how much experience we have, we, as authors, can always learn a lot from people who are in our same “boat,” so to speak. All authors have the same problems and the same hopes and fears and dreams.
All three of my events were good ones, with bookstore owners going out of their way to make us feel welcome. My favorite event, though, was the signing at The Dalles-Wasco County Library. I don’t think I have ever appeared before such an attentive and interested audience. Maybe it was because they don’t see that many authors in the same place very often. We were the big event in town that day, I am sure. For whatever reason, the experience for me was one to be treasured.
Ron Lovell, Author
Who knew that this was an idea whose time had come? George Wright did, and he sold it to the rest of us. Because Cannon Beach Book Company is not set up for that many authors to have any breathing room, we collaborated with our friends across the street at the Cannon Beach (Private) Library. They have a perfect spot, very accommodating, light and bright, as are all of those wonderfully helpful volunteers.
Our authors were outstanding! What was so wonderful about them was their diversity of experience, their eloquence in telling us about it and their willingness to answer questions on craft, life, their books, the books of others – anything you can think of. The audience was enthralled, the Library volunteers were thrilled at the participation and the excellence of the format and the authors. This bookseller was delighted with the sales generated, both at the event and afterward. As more and more people heard about what a great time was had by all, they came in to the store looking for books.
Next time George comes up with an idea, I’ll just say “yes” and ask questions later.
Cannon Beach Book Company
Crazy Eights was so much fun! I did the events in McMinnville and at Broadway Books in Portland. For me, the biggest thrill was getting to eat dinner next to Molly Gloss and Ursula Le Guin before the McMinnville event. Part of me was still the awed reader of The Jump Off Creek and The Lathe of Heaven, two books I loved to distraction. It was also fascinating to hear the other writers speak. We are all writers, but we each have such different approaches to the work.