About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wasilla on my Mind

In light of recent events, I thought I would share with you a small excerpt from an e-mail I sent about my trip to Alaska for Bouchercon in September 2007:

The next morning, I watched one of Charlaine Harris' panels, and then met up again with my author friend for a sightseeing expedition.  The usual thing is to go South toward Portage Glacier, Homer, Seward, Girdwood.  I suggested we head the other way to Wasilla, Alaska.  Because there was a Waldenbooks there!  It was another gorgeous day, and we drove along with the Chugach Mountains on one side of us, and the Alaska Range lurking off a little in the distance, with some fall foliage maybe just the tiniest tinge past its peak.  Wasilla/Porter Alaska have around 70K of the 350K people that live in the "Anchorage Bowl," which in turn has around half of the population of Alaska.  When we were driving along the main drag and passed by a strip mall with a sign for the "Alaska Cheesecake Company," I said we had to stop.  I come from NYC, we have cheesecake here, and I had to see what these upstarts were.  The owner was very glad to see us.  I got two cheesecake cupcake sampler packages, one for me and one for my host, and we were her first customers of the day, and spent about as much as she'd taken in the entire day before when she said it had been pouring rain all day.  Her rent was $1800/month (well under $2/square foot) which the owner of the used bookstore in the same strip mall thought was quite extravagant on a square foot basis, while I was quite amazed because this was so much less than any kind of rent you get in NYC.  And it looked as if the typical take for the cheesecake business was maybe $200 per day.  In any case, it was surprisingly good cheesecake; I enjoyed my cheesecake cupcakes immensely.  Sadly, they don't have a web site.  The Waldenbooks itself was revelatory.  It's hardly the biggest I've been in, but it had well over 50 titles of mine on its very crowded shelves, twice as many as the LI stores and a good 25% more than the nice store near Seattle, and in fact more than any Waldenbooks I've ever visited.  70,000 people, and they either buy their books at this little Waldenbooks, at the grocery store, or drive 45 minutes or an hour to Anchorage.  We had lunch at an Italian-y restaurant that was praised in my Fodor's for its large calzones, and mine was good.

I doubt that the Waldenbooks will have as robust a selection today because of the inventory cutbacks at Borders, and I do not know if Governor Palin ever shopped there.  The store has some new competition from Pandemonium Booksellers.  The Alaska Cheesecake Company still does not have a web site that I can find, otherwise I would link and suggest you all send away for cheesecake.  I think Evengelos was the name of the restaurant where I had yummy calzone.  Not being able to divine the future, I did not devote sufficient time to exploring the ice-skating rink/sports complex or the Wasilla library or any of the major tourist sites now in the news.  I have nothing else to say on the subject of Wasilla.


Lisa Iriarte said...

I suspect, considering the weather in Alaska, that reading is a rather popular hobby. It doesn't surprise me that the Waldenbooks was well stocked.

That would make another interesting study - climate compared with literacy levels of the inhabitants.

I live in Florida, but my reading habits are more dependent upon my occupation than on the weather. Since I teach, I do most of my reading over the summer or during winter break.

And that brings up a question for you. I love Elizabeth Moon (whom I believe has a new book coming in October) and Tanya Huff. I prefer their military science fiction to their other works. Can you recommend anyone else among your clients who write similar material?

Lisa Iriarte

The Brillig Blogger said...

Jack Campbell, certainly.

Lisa Iriarte said...

I'll look into him. How about kick a** female characters?

Bill Swears said...

You were right, the Alaska Cheesecake Company doesn't have a web-site. I called, though, and she's now making enough money to hire evening help, so the hours have expanded.

Alaska Cheesecake Company

543 W Parks Hwy
Wasilla, AK 99654 Map

* (907) 373-3392

I doubt you'd want want to import cheesecake to NYC. That seems a bit like sending lobsters to Maine...


The Brillig Blogger said...

Bill Swears was my host for my visit to Wasilla, for which I will be eternally in his doubt. I have it on good authority that he and his family will vouch for the quality of the cheesecake!

If you want kick-agg foreign characters in a non-military setting, there are kick-akk Charlaine Harris characters, kick-amm Harper Blaine from Kat Richardson, kick-att female co-lead in Violette Malan's SOLDIER KING, I like Vin in the Mistborn novels by Brandon Sanderson though she may not be quintessential kick-aww, and there's Andrea Cort in Adam-Troy Castro's EMSSARIES FROM THE DEAD, who is a very intriguing and multi-faceted if not quintessentially kick-avv.

Bill Swears said...

Lisa Iriarte said, "Can you recommend anyone else among your clients who write similar material?"

Rick Shelley was pretty good, though he's deceased, and his books seem to be out of print. I found many of them in the Barnes and Noble used books links.

Also, while speaking of Jack Campbell, look for John G. Hemry. The Stark's War and JAG in Space volumes are still available, either used, or at collector's prices through Amazon.

Betsy Dornbusch said...

I rather doubt the Gov. Palin has ever read a book.

I've always liked Waldenbooks over the giant chainstores. It feels cozier. Of course, I try to buy local whenever I can but people insist on giving me gift certificates to Borders.

Lisa Iriarte said...

Thanks for the recommendations. Maybe I can increase my faves list.

Lisa Iriarte said...

Bought Greywalker yesterday and I've already read about eight chapters. Not my usual thing, but loving it so far. It reminds me a little of Laura Anne Gilman's Retrievers series.