On Las Vegas, a Ship I Love, and David Copperfield

I wanted to talk about my experiences in Las Vegas.  I live here six months out of every year. Honestly, before I ever visited, I can tell you that I thought I wouldn’t like it. It has that hard-playing reputation, you know, and based on that, it just didn’t seem like me. I don’t gamble, although I’ll put ten bucks into a slot machine now and again, just to hear the clinks and whistles. I don’t drink much. Two glasses of wine is usually my limit, and though I do love a good martini, it’ll put me to sleep an hour later, as it has done since I was old enough to drink.

But my husband coaxed me into visiting Las Vegas for the first time, and ever since he and I have been together, we’d come here once a year so he could enjoy playing poker.  While he did that, I, an A-type personality who couldn’t play cards to save my life, would let go and allow myself to indulge in the amazing gyms and spas at whichever hotel we were staying. After a day spent doing our separate fun things, Hubs and I would meet up at seven, have dinner at eight. It was lovely, even romantic way to unwind, to spend three or four days together without thinking about work, or whatever else there was to worry about in our real life.

So, when the opportunity came up for us to purchase a little condo in Lake Las Vegas, frankly, I agreed to it to humor him, and I thought it would be a fun getaway spot.

I never thought I’d fall in love with the people here. I never thought I would fall in love with the desert and the lakes. Yes, at Lake Las Vegas, we’ve got our backsides up against the Mojave Desert, a half an hour away by car from the Strip, but only a spit’s length away from Lake Mead.  And man, is it beautiful.

It’s beautiful, and here’s another thing: I never thought I’d find such a rich and full literary community here, either.  That’s something that Las Vegas isn’t known for, but it should be, because it brims with every type of art and artist ─ everything from the hokiest lounge act, to shows that rival Broadway, to classically-trained musicians and thespians at the Smith Performing Arts Center, to the many bestselling authors who make their home here.

So when it came time to write the second book in my ongoing trilogy, The Secret Spice Café, even though it’s still set mostly on my favorite ship, the RMS Queen Mary, I had to write in some scenes in Las Vegas. And I was inspired to write about a magician too.

Why? Well, I’ve always loved magic, and Las Vegas has the world’s greatest magician, David Copperfield. He’s from my neck of the woods too ─ born one state over in New Jersey. And I think that’s cool, just as I think magic is cool. Oh, I know, I know ─ some don’t consider magic a “real” art, any more than they think stories about haunted ships are “real” books, or that Las Vegas is a “real” town. But not only did he inspire me, he helped me with my research for Book II in my trilogy.

And then, this past Sunday night, while people were running for their lives as a maniac shot at them from a fourth floor room in Mandalay Bay, that same magician kept his audience occupied and safe, for hours after his performance should have ended.  He didn’t make a big deal about this, either. He just tweeted about it, but who experiencing those horrific events Sunday night didn’t? He could have walked off the stage, gone home to his family, and had the house worry about his audience. But he didn’t.  To do a grueling performance such as the one he does, and then to remain on stage for hours afterward to keep people in the audience occupied while they stayed safe, well, honestly? That was pretty damn awesome.

And I realize, with everything else that’s taken place here since that shooting ─ the enormous amount of money the community has raised for the victims, the blood banks replenished ─ that his actions are just part and parcel of the Las Vegas spirit. It is a town full of adventurers. A town full of explorers and artists and dreamers. A town that accepts the bad and the good. And deals with the ugly.

I’m gladder than ever that I let my husband talk me into visiting this city those years ago. Gladder than ever that we spend half a year here. Gladder than ever that I decided to write about a Las Vegas magician who sets his sights on the Queen Mary.

I’m gladder than ever to see that the people here, from all walks of life ─ rich, poor, famous, not famous, whoever they voted for, whatever color their skin is, and whatever they believe in ─ remembered this week that they are human. As we all are. (See David Copperfield’s tweets below) 

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