Lisa McMann is the bestselling author of dozens of books such as The Unwanteds series and the Wake trilogy. Her forthcoming book, Clarice the Brave (Putnam, Oct. 12), follows the adventures of a young ship mouse named Clarice. Here, McMann describes her recent driving tour from Michigan to Arizona (July 17–27), in honor of the forthcoming book, with her husband, fellow writer and musician Matt McMann.
When my dad asked if I was interested in buying his little red convertible, how could I say no?
My husband, upcoming Putnam debut author Matt McMann, and I had been intentionally living without a vehicle for the past four years, opting to experience life without wheels in walkable cities like Sacramento, Calif., and currently in Tempe, Ariz. But the shiny 2007 convertible that my 81-year-old dad had lovingly cared for (and hardly driven—it only had 22,000 miles on it) was too hard to pass up. The only problem was that my parents—and the car—were far away, in Holland, Mich. We could ship the convertible home (boring!) or we could drive it, and turn the trip into a cross-country adventure and see some sights along the way (ding ding ding!).
Since I’d really missed interacting with booksellers, we mapped our route to include several bookstores where I’ve done events in the past, as well as some new ones. We stocked up on Clarice the Brave ARCs, printed and autographed some posters, and made homemade cake pops to match the book cover (with much help from my sister, Tricia Kiepert, an elementary school principal and an excellent baker). And we brought Clarice along—a felt mouse that author friend and felting expert Joanne Levy created in the likeness of the ship mouse on the cover of the book. Clarice made quite a splash with booksellers on her first land tour!
The first day, I made a quick solo stop to sign books and leave an ARC and goodies at Schuler Books in Okemos, Mich. Then Clarice, Matt, and I boarded a ferry to cross Lake Michigan. The car ferry brought us to Milwaukee (Boswell Books), and we continued on to Oconomowoc, Wisc. (Books & Co).
The next day we visited The Red Balloon in St. Paul, Minn., where a fan drove three hours to meet me because I mentioned on Instagram that I’d be stopping there. Then we went to Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis before continuing on to The World’s Only Corn Palace in Mitchell, S.D.
On day three, we made it to Mitzi’s Books in Rapid City, S.D., stopped to take in the sights at Mt. Rushmore, then traveled to Ft. Collins, Colo.
Day four was Super Saturday. We visited seven indie bookstores in Colorado, bearing gifts: Old Firehouse Books in Ft. Collins, The Wandering Jellyfish in Niwot, Tattered Cover’s McGregor, Colfax, and Stanley Marketplace locations, Second Star to the Right bookstore, and finished the tour of 12 indies at Boulder Bookstore.
After that we meandered through the Rocky Mountains and visited a few national parks, ending at Zion National Park in Utah.
Here are some fun photo highlights from our tour.
Clarice the Brave’s first land tour began (ironically) on a ferry across Lake Michigan.
I signed stock and an ARC of Clarice the Brave at Schuler Books in Okemos, Mich.
Here, I shared homemade cake pops with bookseller friends Tim and Jenny at Boswell Books in Milwaukee, Wisc.
A fan drove three hours to meet me at Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul, Minn.
Clarice met a real-life marmalade scoundrel (a.k.a. shop cat) in the window display at Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis.
Next, we visited beautiful Mitzi’s Books in Rapid City, S.D.
Clarice bravely climbed onto the shoulder of a tall stranger to get a closer look at Mt. Rushmore.
I found a quiet, cozy spot to read and sign books at Old Firehouse Books, in a historic building in Ft. Collins, Colo.
Owner Carissa of The Wandering Jellyfish in Niwot, Colo., welcomed me and Clarice to the new store a few weeks before its grand opening. That’s 2023 debut author (and novice photographer) Matt McMann in the reflection.
So many Tattered Covers! Clarice assures Denver booksellers at the store’s new Stanley Marketplace location that she was not responsible for tattering them.
Manager Katie looked on as I signed stock at Boulder Bookstore in Boulder, Colo.
Celebrating at the end of the journey, near the entrance to Zion National Park.
Clarice is happy to be home at last, in Tempe.