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Saturday, 14 October 2017

Back in Nebraska and ready to work - and talk.

I've had my break. Been to New Mexico. Had the quick weekend in San Francisco seeing my old college buddy after 18 years. And breathed a lot of wood smoke. The air down there was thick with the stuff, and seasoned with flakes of black ash.

Two days' driving brought me back to Red Cloud, where the good folk at the Willa Cather  Foundation have housed me in what was the author's second childhood home, on the corner of 6th and Seward. It is like moving into a museum. It is exquisite.

It's not the first time I've had a literary hero watching my every move: it happened when I was resident in the Kerouac House in Orlando, 2004.

I gave my talk at the Foundation last night. For a town of barely 1,000 we didn't do badly at all. I spoke about my early life and career and explained how I came to be a debut novelist in my late 60s. Then I talked about Cody, The Medicine Man and Me, and read a few passages.

Today has been a rest day. Rest and laundry day, I should say. It soon stacks up. Tomorrow I drive north to visit friends in Alliance, and on Monday it's back to Kearney for an evening talk at the library (7.00 pm). From there it'll be Omaha for the Tourism Conference, Aurora for the Nebraska Writers Guild, with further addresses at Omaha's Bookworm bookstore and Francie and Finch in Lincoln. That's Saturday night before I fly out of Lincoln Sunday morning - and home.

It is just great to be back in this state. It may be provincial, it may be slow, but people have time. When I went for breakfast at the Bowling Alley this morning the guy was about to close the kitchen down, but he cranked it up and cooked me an eggs, bacon and hash browns meal before telling me about his own writing ambitions in the horror and fantasy genres. I got chatting too to the owner, a retired school teacher who doubles as a Sunday morning pastor, provider of activities for the town's youngsters - 'And oh, just excuse me while I go pay my beer man. Been waiting for this delivery.'

After that I rested, then drove out to Bladen for a lunch which has filled me so thoroughly I doubt I'll eat again until tomorrow morning on the road.

The sitting-room.