Diana Renn

Mysteries that Matter

Cake for the launch party Racing bib design by Renee Combs

It’s been a fun couple of weeks launching LATITUDE ZERO! The kickoff was July 3, publication day. I celebrated with a party at Porter Square Books in Cambridge. I admit, I had some misgivings about throwing a launch party the day before a national holiday, prime vacation time. Misgivings swelled when the threat of violent thunderstorms caused the city of Boston to move its scheduled July 4 celebration to July 3! Now I had to compete with fireworks, the Boston Pops, and the Beach Boys, the headline act of the city’s celebration! Who would choose to spend a warm summer evening at a bookstore when they could be out by the Charles River?

Lots of people, it turns out! Though I couldn’t deliver fireworks or even hum the national anthem, we had great turnout!

I talked about how writing this book was so different from writing TOKYO HEIST, and what inspired it. I read for a bit, and answered some really excellent audience questions. Then I got to sign copies and eat some of that fabulous cake pictured above!

Here are some other pictures from the party:

With my street team: authors A.C. Gaughen, Erin Cashman, Kerri Majors, and Gina Rosati!
Me, with the fun racing bib designed by Renee Combs–finally 070314 is a reality!
Local cycling celebs: a former pro cyclist (on left) and the founder of VeloVelo (right)

So I have to tell you about the guy in the third picture, above. That’s Carlos Vivas, a former professional cyclist from Ecuador. (Also a former Mr. Universe winner; he went into bodybuilding after retiring from cycling). I met Carlos after I’d written the entire book, when someone alerted me to the fact that he worked as a mechanic at my local bike shop. I’d been shopping there for years and never knew it! Carlos and his wife Carol both read late-stage draft of LATITUDE ZERO and vetted it for Ecuadorian references, Spanish usage particular to the region, and cycling mechanics. They were incredibly helpful. It was great to hear Carlos’s real-life story of how he came into cycling, and the similarities to my main character, Juan Carlos, were eerie!

After the launch party, my family and I went to Seattle, my hometown, where I did two events: one at Seattle Mystery Bookshop, my favorite mystery-themed bookstore EVER. I spent some time hanging out with Amber, the amazing children’s bookbuyer there, who made sure I left with an armload of reading material for my vacation! (Seriously, Amber is one of the most well-read people I’ve ever met, and you absolutely must check out her Agatha Christie blog, My 52 Weeks with Christie–she’s reading one Christie novel a week!) The other event was at Third Place Books, and my parents were in attendance! I had a lot of fun meeting mystery fans and cycling fans at both stores!

Me with Amber, children’s bookbuyer extraordinaire!

From there, it was on to an actual VACATION. We took the train from Seattle to Portland, which felt so adventurous even though it was only a four-hour trip; I really miss traveling, which can be tough with a small kid, and this whetted my appetite for serious travel again. We then drove to Cannon Beach, on the Oregon Coast.

Cannon Beach, Oregon. Paradise!

I spent a few days relaxing there with family, and I finally found time to do a little cycling myself — beach cycling, that is, on the sand!

I had never tried this before. It’s a fun low-tide activity to do on Cannon Beach. It was easy enough to learn, but a bit more of a workout than I’d anticipated. Let’s just say I don’t see racing this way in my future! (Nor do I see beach biking as the subject of my next book!)

While on vacation, two rather amazing things happened, proving my theory that if you want good things to happen, get out of town — ideally to somewhere with weak wifi! (And then when you get good news, it will be EXTRA exciting!) First, an essay of mine got published on the Huffington Post. It’s one I’m particularly proud of, about gun violence in YA fiction. You can read it here.

Then I learned that LATITUDE ZERO is a Junior Library Guild Selection!!! This is astounding news, worthy of even more exclamation points than I just gave it. I’ve seen the Junior Library Guild distinction printed on many covers of books I admire, but didn’t fully understand what it meant until I looked at their website. Basically, a committee chooses a select number of children’s titles two seasons each year and licenses hardcover rights for their book club. These titles are then available to thousands of libraries nationwide. It’s a big honor, and I’m so thrilled and so grateful that this book may find a wider audience of young readers as a result.

A big thank-you to everyone who has supported the LATITUDE ZERO journey thus far, whether it’s by attending an event, buying the book, getting it from the library (or requesting it), spreading the word, following my online blog tour, or expressing interest in the book in any way! Everything that readers do helps nudge the book a little farther out into the world!

Greetings from Seattle, where the skies are blue and — well, at the moment my hotel room is swaddled in clouds and mist. But I’m hopeful this will burn off and we’ll have a lovely summer day here, like yesterday. Here’s photographic evidence that it is not always gray and rainy! This is a fountain at the Seattle Center. Temps soared yesterday afternoon, and kids — including my son, the little guy in the water here — flocked to this oasis.

I’m staying with my family on Queen Anne Hill, in an old hotel that’s supposed to be haunted, though I have yet to see a ghost. I’m hopeful on that front too. The hotel has equal doses of quirks and charm. Creaky floorboards, dim hall lights, graceful banisters that call out to be slid down. (I always wanted to slide down a staircase banister. I’ve never done that. Have you? Maybe on my last day!)

In good company at Third Place Books!

I’ve had some time to hang out with family, and some book events going on. On Tuesday evening, I did an event at Third Place Books, in Lake Forest Park, my old neighborhood. What a fun time! They were very welcoming. Bestselling mystery author J.A. Jance had read there just two hours before me, and the reading area still felt electric. I was thrilled to meet two people on a mystery marathon; they had gone to her event, had dinner, and then returned to hear about TOKYO HEIST.

With my dad, who’s taller than he looks. I’m wearing precarious heels.
With my mom, also taller than she looks. Darn these heels!
With Ron Hippe, actor/musician, longtime friend

Reading at Third Place Books was deeply meaningful for me. I consider it my neighborhood bookstore, even though I live 3,000 miles away. I’m in Seattle about three times a year, and within 24 hours of arrival, I’m there, stocking up on my reading for the week or getting books for my son. My roots as a reader and writer also run deeper in that building, to the Lake Forest Park Library right downstairs. Returning to the building where I’d grown up reading, now with a published book in hand, was a wonderful experience. It was also great to have my parents there, as well as some old friends from high school!

Author J. Anderson Coats came! And behind her, a guy in a Sakura-Con T-shirt. Violet wears one too in Tokyo Heist!

Then yesterday I visited Golden Age Collectables in the Pike Place Market, where I used to work on vacations back in my college days. In TOKYO HEIST, Violet works in a comic shop too. But I must stress that the made-up store in the book is VERY different from the place where I worked! GAC sells comics, manga, graphic novels galore, movie memorabilia, and many more fun things, and they have a staff that knows everything about everything. This was one of the best jobs I ever had, and I was delighted to find my former employers still so enthusiastic about their business, which is booming, and it was fun to meet the current staff there. I signed some books for them, so if you’re in the area, you can stop in and pick one up! And definitely check out this cool store if you’re in Seattle looking for anything related to comics or film!

Stay tuned for more notes from my Seattle trip. If you’re here, check out my events page for more bookstore appearances!