Over Memorial Day weekend, while the Bay Bridge was closed for repairs, my family and I hopped in the car and drove down the peninsula to THE CITY to attend the first book release party of a very dear friend, Seanan McGuire, who is one of the newest members here at the Café. FYI, If you live in Northern California, there is only one THE CITY, even for those of us living in San Jose, Oakland or other (small “c”) cities of a million people or so. That, of course, is the Jewel of the Barbary Coast—San Francisco.
Los Angeles? Pffft! Fuggedaboutit. THE CITY is San Francisco. Period.
Anyway, that evening in THE CITY, we packed into Borderlands Books with around fifty other people, one of an amazing number of indie bookstores along Valencia Street. But this bookstore was set up for exactly the kind of book release party Seanan had planned.
You see, Seanan is a musician/singer/songwriter and part of the Northern California filk community (Filk? Look it up.) and I’ve known her since forever (well, around 1995). I was there when she first began shyly singing songs in filk circles at BayCon and we all said, “Wow! Who’s the kid with the VOICE!”
So, it was no surprise that she chose to hold her release party at a bookstore with rolling shelves that the delightful owners cleared to the back of the store so there was space for baked goods, a raffle prize table, an audience section, a “stage” for the band, two hairless cats and a mosh pit.
Oh, okay. I made up the mosh pit. But the two hairless cats exist: Ripley and Ash. Alas, though Ripley spent a good part of the evening in my lap, I have no pictures of her…
But there was a band. It was made up of bits and pieces of a group called Tricky Pixie, and a happy rabble of Seanan’s other friends … including me, when I was recruited to the backup vocalists to perform “Mal’s Song” for the Browncoats in attendance. (Browncoat? Look it up.)
The band played three or four sets in between which Seanan pulled raffle tickets out of a hat. Then, toward the end of the evening, she did a reading from the subject of the release party, her first novel Rosemary and Rue. R & R is a marvelous contemporary dark fantasy/mystery featuring half-faerie detective, October “Toby” Daye. There is a murder, you see, and Toby is honor- and magic-bound to solve it. Seanan’s tight, visceral prose squeezes every drop of suspense and magic out of the situation, too.