Just back from my first trip to New York, courtesy of Disney-Hyperion, my US publishers.
So much has happened at the Book Expo America that I'll be dividing it up over a few blogs, with a competition at the end, depending on when my crate arrives, so bear with me for that.
However, this blog is not directly concerned with with the BEA, but with my encounter with Homeland Security...
Anyway, after a grueling eight hour flight where I passed the time watching the last two Harry Potter movies I was quite looking forward to going to my hotel and having a sleep, then maybe explore Manhattan a bit and maybe find a cinema showing Terminator: Salvation. Picture this scene...
Lady at Passport Control: Passport please.
Me: Here you go.
LaPC: What's the purpose of your visit? Business or pleasure?
Me: Business. I'm a children's author and my publisher, DISNEY, has invited me here.
LaPC: Not good enough. You look highly suspect and I think are a danger to the security of the free world. Escort! (okay, she didn't really say that but what followed next led me to believe she was thinking it REALLY hard).
Enter man with a gun.
MwaG: Follow me and don't make any sudden moves.
What follows next is me waiting anxiously in a large empty hall surrounded with many more Men with Guns. I decide to act calm and natural. I get out a book to read. It has an exploding airplane on the front cover (see above). With horror I realise I have underlined paragraphs (I always do that with Cussler books since he's been a big influence on my style). I slowly slip the book back in my bag.
Eventually a Woman with a Gun turns up.
WwaG: Purpose of visit?
Me: My publisher, DISNEY, you know DISNEY? Like, the most patriotic employer in America? They'll vouch for me, honestly! Please don't imprison me! (Okay, I didn't actually say that, but was thinking it REALLY hard).
WwaG: Have you traveled to any of the following countries? Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Pakistan, Sudan?
WmaG looks at me like she's sizing me up for a jump suit. I try and explain I look really awful in orange. MwaG starts checking the latest weather at Gauntanamo. I'm starting to feel quite flustered.
WwaG: Do you have any relatives in the US?
WwaG: Now this relative wouldn't be the one who recently had dinner with the President of Iran?
WwaG concludes I'm probably a Large in jump suits. They're now checking for the next flight to Cuba. Seriously, orange isn't good for me. Doesn't that count for something?
Eventually I name-drop the entire Disney Hyperion staff list in my increasingly desperate attempt to persuade WwaG I am legit. So, if at some point in the future their offices should be raided by a SEAL team, I apologise now in advance. The WwaG takes down a lot of details, then smiles and bids me "Have a nice day". I am ridiculously grateful. I'm only stopped once more before finally leaving the airport to discover the chauffeur has called the publishers telling them I was a 'no show' so they think I've missed my flight. Phonecalls are flying back and forth across the Atlantic to find out where the hell I am.
I have been in the US two hours.
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