I kicked off the book tour for the new 25th anniversary edition of THE GILDA STORIES with two readings in historic places. First at City Lights Books (publisher of this new edition) in North Beach. It’s the literary home of the Beat Poets and artists such as Jack Hirschman, Bob Kaufman, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Bernice Bing. It was among these artists that the young world found its voice in the 1950s, breaking with a past that bound women and men to proscribed cultural roles. The peace movement was not far behind.
Reading at City Lights made me feel connected to a grand literary and social tradition and GILDA felt right at home. Most of my SF family was in the audience along with old friends drinking Sorel’s favorite: champagne! But surprise of the night–after the reading we went to eat at the famous garlic restaurant the Stinking Rose, just to prove that garlic has no effect on vampires! So we finished off garlic pizza with garlic ice cream. The restaurant also featured (rather than the chemically constructed ‘True Blood‘ ) a full menu of vampire cocktails like the Blood Orange Margarita and the Transylvania Mule! Gilda was pleased!
Our next stop was Laurel Books in Oakland, historic because it remains one of the dwindling number of woman-owned, independent bookstores in the country. It was thrilling to look out to the packed audience and see an ocean of white hair…real not bleached! So many of the folks had grown up and old with Gilda that it was a real homecoming. Favorite audience question of the night: How did I develop my vampire philosophy for Gilda’s family?
I loved talking about how feminism and Native American spirituality played such an intrinsic role in developing Gilda’s credo: “We take blood, not life. Leave something in exchange.” That summation of her moral code really helped me focus each chapter in the book as I wrote and watched her character grow. In the new forward to this edition of the novel explain why I see it is a metaphor for our own role in life. We do need to dig deep to get at the core of living, go into the bloody depths, as it were; but remember to not do harm to others and ourselves.
Next stop: Atlanta and Baltimore!