The day after presenting at the Castelvecchio, Jan and I took an early train to Torino for the International Book Fair. Nearly half a million people flock to the convention center in Torino each year, and my publisher La Corte Editore had a large stall just around the corner from the national newspaper.
My editor, Gianni La Corte, came to pick us up from the underground station and whisked us off to the fair. The convention hall is a rehabbed Fiat factory, so it's utterly enormous - by necessity. So many people! Weaving through the crowds, we reached La Corte Editore's stall, where I was stunned to see my novel side-by-side with a novel by one of my all-time favorite writers, Jonathan Carroll.
Gianni rushed off to preside over an event featuring another of his authors, the vivavious and hilarious Elena Bosca, author of SWEET LOVE: LA RAGAZZA DELLE TORTE. I stepped behind the table and proceeded to start signing and selling books, talking in my poor Italian and decent French to anyone who stopped by.
About five minutes in, I looked up to see a familiar face grinning at me. Chuck Dvorak had driven 13 hours from where he's stationed in Germany just to spend the day with us. Chuck played Tybalt for me in 2008 when I directed R&J at Eastern Michigan University, and we've remained close ever since, even as he deployed overseas. Now married and a father of a beautiful baby girl, I usually only get to see him on his short stops back in the states.
Chuck and Jan went off exploring the city of Torino, while I spent 9 hours on my feet, working as hard to sell Carroll's book as my own. I have to say, Gianni has put together a really great selection of books for his company. It's a diverse range, with something for everyone. There's Elena's book on sweets, a book on wedding planning (a new concept in Italy, where mothers and grandmothers usually take care of things) co-authored by Serena Obert, several kid-friendly monster books by Fabio Cicolani, a young-adult future gladiator novel by Antonio Lanzetta, and Gianni's own novels, as well as many more. But these were the authors present with me that day, and we had a great time laughing and signing, breaking chairs, stealing pens, and working hard to sell each others' books. It was pretty terrific.
Behind the table, too, were Gianni's parents and his brother Emanuele, helping with sales and the cash register. Just the loveliest people. They were clearly delighted that I was there, and working hard to make Gianni's day a success. I wandered off only to be interviewed by newspapers and magazines, or to have a quick bite with Gianni in the VIP area.
After knocking off at 8, Gianni drove us to our beautiful bed and breakfast, then Jan and I had dinner with Chuck before the three of us joined Gianni, Elena, Antonio, Fabio, Emanuele, and many others in the basement of Franky's pub in downtown Torino for wine and rum and sweets. The basement is pretty swank, but one floor further down is a centuries-old cellar and tunnel system that has been converted into a private club area.
After saying goodbye to Chuck, who was insanely driving back to Germany that night, Gianni took us on a driving tour of the city, talking in detail about the history (he might have been hinting for a new novel). At around 2 am we staggered home to our B&B to relax and sleep in the next morning.
Seriously, this trip could not have been better in any way.