I've been negligent lately in keeping up my book tour blog entries! This week I'll catch you up on my stops in Chicago and Fort Myers, Florida, but I'll start with the last trip I took in January, to a place close to my sister (Stephanie Woods)'s heart: Cincinnati.
Stephanie spent two years in Cincinnati on the morning news team at Fox 25, WXIX. If you haven't visited, Cincinnati is a gorgeous place to go, with some really breathtaking views of the Ohio River, interesting neighborhoods, and great restaurants. I stayed with my stepbrother's girlfriend near Mt. Adams, which reminded me of a kind of eastern San Francisco. Check it out in this old postcard:
The impetus to visit Cincinnati was an invitation to do an interview on the air with the lovely Sheila Gray, Stephanie's mentor and former co-worker. Sheila is now a morning anchor on Good Morning Cincinnati (Local 12/WKRC), and she had wonderful questions about Fräulein M., the writing process, and my inspiration for the book. Here's a still shot of us chatting in the studio. You can view the full interview here!
Perhaps because Sheila knows my sister, she was the first journalist to ask how having a sister affected my decision to write about orphan sisters in Berlin and the way that informed my characters' relationship. I was really glad to get this question. Truthfully, I didn't put much initial thought into the decision to write about sisters; it just came naturally. My sister is one of the closest people to me in the world, and we're blessed with a close relationship. Berni and Grete, the sisters at the heart of Fräulein M., aren't so lucky. I think the love I feel for my sister and brother--and the tendency we all have to worry about the people we love, even if their lives aren't necessarily dangerous--gave my story the emotional weight it needed. Having siblings allowed me to imagine how terrified and devastated I'd be if I saw them making decisions that horrified me and that put them in real danger.
The day before I went on the air, I gave a book signing at the Barnes & Noble at Newport on the Levee, a huge entertainment and shopping complex on the Kentucky side of the river across from Cincinnati. Newport on the Levee is home to the Newport Aquarium, a bowling alley, movie theater, and lots of shops and restaurants. Before my signing, I had some delicious mole enchiladas at Redondo Taqueria. The weather was fantastic for January, bringing lots of shoppers outside.
I had some fantastic conversations with shoppers as I signed books, especially with some aspiring writers who happened to come by. I love speaking with people about the writing process and sharing my path to publication. When I was in the querying and submitting phase, I was hungry to hear other writers' success stories, so I'm happy to share mine now.
The staff at Barnes & Noble were also incredibly kind and enthusiastic, and after I signed books for a few hours, we put together this display of signed books before I left (complete with bookmarks!). If you're in Ohio or Kentucky, stop by and pick one up before they're gone! You can tweet at the store at @BNNewportLevee to find out if copies are still available.
That evening, my hostess for the weekend and I went to dinner at Metropole, a restaurant in downtown Cincinnati in the 21c Museum Hotel. I had a Manhattan and a perfect dinner of pan-seared salmon, plus the best burnt carrot salad appetizer I've ever had. Metropole shares a space with an art gallery in the lobby of the hotel, so we got to peek at some interesting sculpture while we were waiting for our food.
Metropole also has a tradition of parking a giant yellow penguin next to diners who are new to the restaurant. Here's mine.
I should mention that Cincinnati has a significant German population. On a previous visit I had a fantastic, authentic Bavarian dinner at the Hofbrauhaus in Newport. The sauerbraten that Berni gives Grete in the book--and that I attempted to replicate for my mother's book club dinner--is based on a meal I had at the Hofbrauhaus.
Cincinnati is also home to "America's Oktoberfest," Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, a weekend-long beer, brats, and entertainment extravaganza held every September.
For German culture aficionados, Cincinnati is a must-stop within the U.S.