Sunday, 18 May 2014

Launching Books

So, last night was the official launch for Three Men on a Pilgrimage, alongside Steve Smith's Nine Steps to Well-Being.  It was... an experience.

I turned up with my box of books, and was immediately intimidated by the set out tables, wine glasses, microphones and the two stools at the front.  A couple of people were setting out the refreshments, so I went over and introduced myself.  One turned to the other, who was in the kitchen, and called, "Hey, come and look at the writer!"  But I didn't panic.  Yet.

People turned up, and Ernesto and Steve arrived.  Steve and I have talked online before, but we'd never met in the flesh, so it was good to finally put a person to the photo and words.  Karl, the head of the Cornerstone Fund Raising committee was there as well, so I asked if he could tell me the kind of things he might ask me, so that I could come up with some coherent answers.  He wouldn't tell me.  Apparently it would be cheating.  And I still didn't panic.

More people arrived, including a number of my friends, whom I hadn’t expected to come, which was rather good, and eventually we got started.

The evening began with some piano music from an insanely talented young pianist.  I've spoken before on this blog about my total lack of musical talent, and my supreme admiration for those who have it.  In this case the admiration was very much deserved.

After the applause had died down, we went onto the reading.  Happily, someone else was doing the reading, and did it very well, although it was extremely strange to hear someone else reading my words.  Obviously I'm aware that people have bought the book and read the words, but somehow the fact that I was hearing someone else saying them really brought home the fact that people are reading what I've been writing.  It was nice to hear a few chuckles as well, so obviously the ‘comical’ part of ‘A Comical Progress’ is working nicely.

Once that was over, it was time for the interview/conversation.  I still didn't panic, but I'm not going to pretend it wasn't close!  Karl and I climbed into a pair of rather tall, bouncy stools, got ourselves comfortable, and then began.  It turns out that I’m a very poor interviewee (sorry Karl!).  I was rather nervous, which didn’t help, but I was trying to make sure I didn’t just answer in monosyllables.  Even so, my answers weren’t as detailed or expansive as they could have been.  In fact, even as I was sitting down again afterwards, I was thinking ‘Oh blast, I could have said that!’, or ‘Bother, I could have talked about that, which would have led onto this!’  I am a grand master of carriage wit, and even once I’d got home I was thinking of better, fuller answers I could have given.  In part it was because I didn't want to give too much away about the specific events of the book, especially the ending, but I think I could have said more without giving too many spoilers.  Well, I suppose I’ll know for next time!

That was really the end of my bit.  There was some more music, and then Steve Smith went through the same treatment, with the primary difference that he is very used to public speaking and lecturing, and so his answers to Karl’s questions were considerably more expansive than my own.

Once he was done, we went onto the signing.  I shifted quite a few copies, although an awful lot of these were as a result of my family buying copies for their friends and relations, whether they expected (or wanted) them or not, presumably as surprise presents.  All I can say is that I hope they enjoy them, and reiterate my no-refunds position!  Other people also bought the book, and said some very kind things.  I hope that it turns out to be money well spent!

I’m clearly a weak-wristed light-weight when it comes to signing, because my hand was already aching after only half a dozen copies.  I bow in admiration to big-selling authors who have to deal with whole queues of people, all wanting an autograph, and who must have wrists of steel and sinews of iron!  It might be hoped that all the fencing I do would strengthen my wrist, but it didn’t seem to help.  The injunction to ‘wield your sword like a pen, not an axe’ obviously isn’t as literal as it might be hoped, alas.

The evening came to a close, and everything was packed up, leaving me feeling extremely tired, but rather pleased.  It was extremely pleasant evening (albeit a little nerve-wracking), and I sold quite a few copies of the book, which will hopefully lead to even more as the word spreads (assuming people like it of course!).

All in all a very good evening, and many thanks to Ernesto and Karl for setting it all up, and the rest of the team at Cornerstone for making it such a successful and pleasant event.

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