Monday, June 2, 2008

Motorcycle Booksignings

I love to do booksignings for events that are different from the usual bookstore signings. Since I ride a Harley-Davidson Road King motorcycle and have ridden motorcycles all my life, it follows that my detectives ride motorcycles. I don't think there is a more appropriate vehicle for a detective, which is a straight line through genres from the Western marshals riding horses. Motorcycles don't eat grass but they don't burn much gas either. And there's not as much coming out the other end.

For Memorial Day weekend I was the guest author at a Vintage Motorcycle Show hosted by the Old Strokers Motorcycle Works and Cafe in Everett Washington. Now you might wonder how that works out, considering the traditional stereotype of a biker as a skull and crossbones, itinerate mechanic who dropped out of school to ride the trails; and not a very good mechanic either since he seemed to be always working on the darn thing.

I don't subscribe to that stereotype. There is nothing better or easier to carry on a long ride than a good book. Unless of course it's a PDA of some sort that will store a thousand books, including a service manual and the "Motorcycle Guide to the Universe", as well as "Murder In La Paz", "Death Mask of the Jaguar" and "The Seattle Barista Killer"...must reads for any serious biker.

Bikers, like cowboys, have always read books, and they sometimes read the magazine articles before looking at the pictures they tear out and pin up on the walls of shops. Okay, maybe they look at the pictures first. But these days there is more time for reading because the motorcycles run better. Of course there are purists, but you throw away that pesky carb and replace it with fuel injection, and you have a recipe for a lot more riding and a lot less fixing.

And of course the ridership has changed, or more definitively, the biker community has expanded. It might include an emergency room intern studying Grey's Anatomy on his laptop in a roadside internet cafe in Baja. Or a retired couple in the Black Hills on a last adventure, with a copy of AARP magazine and a couple of paperbacks in their saddlebags. I was quite surprised when a local Harley-Davidson chapter did a group ride to go play miniature golf. Yikes! What's next, shuffleboard on vintage Cushman walkers? Well...why not?

So, you get all types at a motorcycle event these days, which is a good thing. Memorial Day weekend I had some great conversations, did a few readings when the bands weren't playing, sold many books, and even got to ride my Harley. Oh, and one more thing, there are more women bikers (and mechanics) all the time; it's the fastest growing segment of motorcycle owners. And they definitely read lots of books. Ride Sally, Ride.

Murdoch Hughes
Award-winning author