Day Three, Sunday, of the National Reptile Breeders’ Expo was our best day of the show. We sold out the entire allotment corporate had given us for the show, and so did another bookdealer. Luckily for me, Roxy Johnson had ordered backup and we were able to keep going all day. We sold books straight from morning til close and the buzz was so good we were selling books on our way out of the building, setting our boxes down, opening up the cash box, and signing books right up to the last second.
Roxy was phenomenal. Our corner was a little warmer than it should have been (and I forgot deodorant), but she kept things rolling all day for three days straight. She could talk the herp talk by the end of the show and I think there’s a bearded dragon in her son’s future. She also had more stories to tell than your average gator wrassler which kept things lively. Roxy gave me time to think about some of the more personal inscriptions I wanted to write. Occasionally, the inscription was easy, Stay Out of the Sequel.
Rom Whitaker told me the final tally on the Gharial benefit auction was $25,000, which far exceeded his expectation. Still, it’s a pittance compared to what is needed to preserve this reptile’s habitat. Rom and I exchanged signed copies of our books, and I got the better of the deal, as his Snakes of India is a treasure.
Importantly, the National Reptile Breeders’ Expo was another experience that suggests to me that The Lizard King has loosened the soil a bit around what have been very entrenched positions on wildlife trade. That devoted conservationists, dedicated Fish and Wildlife agents, full-time legitimate wildlife dealers, and even smugglers can enjoy the story and use it to see into one another’s worlds is, I think, important. I didn’t write The Lizard King for a political purpose, which is what most wildlife trade writing does. I wrote it to recount a compelling story that took place inside a fascinating world. I tried my best to give the perspective of the cops and of the robbers without judgment. The audience I had in mind was anyone who enjoyed Into Thin Air or The Perfect Storm.
I learned to ride a Seqway, ate chocolate covered meal worms and crickets, talked with some of the world’s reptile experts, and avoided a rather large restaurant tab. As I said, it was a great weekend.
After the Expo I got in my pickup and drove 14 hours home. And so it goes.