Saturday, 8 March 2014

Seven-dollar pens

As you may have noticed, the launch date for The Killing Season has been scheduled.

It's going to be held in Glasgow, on the night before publication (April 23) at the Argyle Street branch of Waterstones. Caron at Waterstones has already been fantastic: suggesting a list of options I have to decide on, coordinating things with Orion, generally giving me tips on everything and making me consider stuff it wouldn't have occurred to me to think about. She's also read an advance copy of the book and liked it, which helps.

The plan is to hold the event in the spacious café area on the first floor. It can be set up cabaret or theatre-style, depending on numbers, so is a pretty flexible space. I went along to Malcolm Mackay's event there this week, which was chaired by crime writer, Bloody Scotland board member, and all-round good guy Craig Robertson, and got a fairly clear idea of how things will run.

I'll begin with a reading from the book. Advice from Caron: try and project and perform the words, rather than just reading them. Advice from Malcolm Mackay: lots of practice, and remember to look up at the audience. Advice from Craig Robertson: pick an excerpt that's not too long, has some action, not too much swearing or sex.

I have a couple of possibilities in mind. The opening chapter would be pretty good, as it ticks most of the boxes, but it's a little too long. To get away from distractions while I practice, I'm going to have to drive out to somewhere remote and read to myself in the car like Travis Bickle or somebody.

After the reading, we'll go to an interview format where someone (tbc) will ask me questions about the book, writing in general, crime fiction, getting published, and the usual kind of things people talk about at author events.

After the interview segment, we take questions from the audience. Having been in the audience for a lot of these things in the past, I have a pretty good idea how that will go - nobody wants to stick their hand up first, but after the first one the questions tend to come thick and fast. A lot of the time the majority of questions come from aspiring writers. If any of them ask me how hard it was to get an agent, I'm going to have to fess up and tell them that it was almost 100% dumb luck on my part.

This should all take around one hour. When we run out of questions, assuming there's anybody left, I'll sign copies of the book and chat to people one on one. Because this is my first-ever event of this kind, I should be able to rely on a good turnout from family, friends and people from work. That's a double-edged sword, because while it's great for my numbers, I'm always much more nervous speaking in front of people who know me. The good thing is, at least I'm the world's number one expert on this particular book.

Regardless of logistics and pre-game nerves, I'm immensely looking forward to the launch because it's one of the major milestones in becoming a real-live writer: my first talk and signing in an actual honest-to-God bookshop. Which reminds me of another big logistical issue: what's the best pen for signing books? Bic? Sharpie? Quill? Suggestions gratefully received. While pondering this, I came across this great quote from the late standup comic Mitch Hedberg:

"I bought a seven-dollar pen because I always lose pens and I got sick of not caring."

Maybe I should take this advice.

Anyway. The event is free to attend, and there will be coffee, juice and wine for everyone. You can just show up on the night, but if you are planning to come, it would really help us get an idea of the likely numbers if you register by clicking here or on the pretty banner on the right hand side of the screen.

See you on the 23rd.

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