First off: the awesome write-up from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, that came out the Sunday while I was still in Iowa. Read it here.

Pulling into town, the sunset made the sky appear to be on fire, and there was a place on I-35 that sells huge sculptures of great white sharks. It was a bit late in the day when I arrived at my (let’s face it: awful) hotel, but I was determined to head for the fitness room to use the treadmill (I hadn’t run in about a week). Unfortunately, the treadmill was ancient, with a narrow belt that stuck every few steps; fortunately, it had railings, because I needed to use them five times to prevent myself from falling. My room was awful because the walls were paper thin and, like many motels I’ve visited, it smelled like walking through a cloud of baby powder and carpet cleaner. Also, every uncarpeted surface was slick: the lobby, the elevator, my bathroom. Luckily, though I get lost a lot (as I am about to speak to), I am fast not to fall.

That next day, I did my first radio interview. The University of Minneapolis radio station, KFAI, features a program called WRITE ON! where visiting writers read a bit from their work and take questions. With Steve McEllistrem, I talked about what inspired Hustle, its characters, and my writing process. The half-hour flew by. I believe it is scheduled to air later this autumn.

That afternoon I went to the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, which – along with their stunning collection – had an exhibit that focused on Dante’s Inferno, featuring sections of Robert Pinsky’s translation alongside drawings done by Mazar, which had helped Pinksy to envision the original and shape his translation.

That night, I had my reading at the bookstore Magers and Quinn. I have discovered on this trip that I get lost, a LOT. Every day, I make at least one wrong turn, take one wrong exit, or find myself in a store unable to remember what I came for. When I left Hawarden, one of the last things Jennifer said to me was: “You know which way you’re going?” And I said, “Yes.” Then I left the parking lot, heading south instead of north, making it all the way to Sioux City (30 miles) before realizing my mistake. Luckily, I got some good pictures. On this evening, my GPS led me astray and I found myself downtown with my car parked in a garage, and the bookstore nowhere in sight. I hailed a taxi and and the driver explained that the store was uptown, and I was about a half hour away!  I hopped in and we sped across town until we finally arrived at the Magers & Quinn, with about two minutes to spare.

I met with my reading partner for the night, Peter Geye, a longtime pal from Western Michigan University and author of the award-winning novel Safe from the Sea. We each read for twenty minutes and took questions, mainly about our time at WMU, writing our novels, and our research approaches with our current projects.

Afterward we went out to a place called the Cafeteria with Peter’s wife, Dana, and the terrific writers Kate Ledger (author of Remedies) and Matthew Batt (author of the forthcoming memoir Sugarhouse). It was great to meet so many new people and to see Dana and Pete, and I am so excited to see how his new book turns out. Thanks to Magers & Quinn, to everyone who set up the event, and to everyone who came out!