It's only two and a half sleeps because I leave at 4.30am on Wednesday, which means being at the airport and 2.30. I may not sleep at all.
On Friday I visit a high school to talk to freshmen and seniors about being a writer, and I will also lead them in a writing prompt. That should be easy to prepare for - I'll just chat about myself and answer questions, and get them to write about an obsession, be it butterflies, clothes, boys, music or miniature trains. I'm also taking with me a stash of NZ YA lit to introduce them to some NZ kulcha: beyond the Lord of the Rings films and Flight of the Conchords I'm not sure what they'll know, and I'm interested to find out.
Friday night I take part in a thing called The Night of Literary Feasts. It's a nice idea: the public can 'hire' an author to come and have dinner with them and their book group/friends/clients/whoever they want in their home or at a restaurant. All proceeds go to a local literacy charity. I'm going to someone's house with two other authors, so it should be relaxed and fun.
On Saturday I'm doing a 'Historical Novels' session with an author called Dave Boling. I'm going to look for his novel Guernica before I leave NZ. Basically, we both talk for 20 minutes each, then answer questions. This might seem like the easier format, but I have to say I prefer panel discussions where we sit and get asked questions. You have to think on your feet, but the upside is... no preparation. When I have to prepare something I tend to over-prepare for fear of being struck dumb, and consequently it always takes up a lot of time and possibly introduces a grey hair or two. But I'm sure it will be fine, and I have double-checked with Dave that he's not going to give a full-on powerpoint presentation with bells and whistles as that would not be fun to be up against armed with nothing but a microphone and some notes.
On Sunday I take part in a panel about first novels, which should be fun. I know nothing about the other participants, Selden Edwards and Randa Jarrar, but I'm looking forward to meeting them and hearing about their work.
Other than that there are the usual parties, mooching about in hotels and exploring a foreign city. I would say that shopping was on the agenda, but as usual when I go to the USA, the NZ dollar buys practically nothing there at the moment, unlike 6 months ago. How I wish I had discovered the delights of online clothes shopping back then...
I will try and report from Portland but I am not taking my laptop (which is too ancient to be of much use anyway). I'm looking forward to catching up again with Mark Sarvas of The Elegant Variation, who I shared the stage with twice at the recent Christchurch Writers Festival, but other than that everyone will be a stranger.
I have to say a huge thank you to the NZ Book Council for making this all possible through their international writers' programme.