The Fluff Launch - 19 + 7
Maths has never been my strong suit. Hence the fact this isn’t called The Blank Graph Paper. Still, for all my leaning on a calculator these days, I still remember the basics. I know, for example, that 19 + 7 = 26. Or, to put it another way:
It’s a week to my book launch!
That’s right. The pink rabbit that burrowed into my head and took over my mornings for a few month is now about to appear in front of an audience for the first time. It’s a very strange feeling.
As you’ll know if you’ve been here a few times before, I’ve already got a couple of live reading events under my belt. Both of them at the brilliant Gunmakers Arms. Both of them sort of initiated by what’s about to happen next Thursday night. In fact, the first time I stepped through the door of the pub, it was knowing that I’d be performing my first book launch there in the future. It was a scouting trip, a chance to reconnoitre the rim. I attended one of their Tippling Tale events and got to meet Gareth Vaughn Wood, who’s one hell of a writer and a performer. It wasn’t long before I was back there to get onstage myself. It was Halloween and I’d spent my first week living in this house basically writing the story for that night and rehearsing it over and over again. Again, if you’ve been here before, you’ll probably have heard about that night. Underneath the enjoyment, relief and adrenaline after I got back to my seat, there was an unspoken subtext. That went well, not long until you launch a book here.
Originally, that was going to be this April, only we had a delay with an edit and some bits and pieces to sort out. In the meantime, I was invited back for the launch of Bella in the Wych Elm and had another great time. I read something already released that time, choosing a small excerpt without ever thinking it would result in people coming up and asking if they could buy a copy somewhere. As I happily handed out business cards, the Cheshire Cat grin settling into place, I realised that the next time I went to The Gunmakers, I'd be launching my own book.
I wouldn’t say it was exactly panic that set in that moment. It was more of a positive, optimistic freak out. I’ve always been excited at the prospect of doing something like a book launch. I guess it comes from the drama student in my head. Granted, there's a part of writing which is all about he work. You want to sit down and create something. You want to slave away over it. You want to take a trip through that first draft to survey the terrain, meet the locals. Then you want to take a few trips back there, with your delete key handy. You want to get it just right and then put it front of people to read. Of course, there is another side to that dice. The one that would quite happily be interviewed about your work. The one that hopes for good reviews. The one that quite like the idea of standing in front of people and actually experience them reacting to your work. You see, writing is lonely. Well, not lonely. To borrow a line from Heat (which I clung to during my more awkward teenage and single years), it's not lonely but alone. It’s the nature of the beast. Particularly for me. I’m not a coffee shop writer. I used to write in pubs, but that was a long time ago. These days, I like to get my work in before the world wakes up. It’s far calmer, for me. It’s solitary, in a good way. It's the closest I get to meditation, in that sense. So, a live event grants me access to something that I never get the rest of the time: an audience.
From that Halloween story onwards, I’ve learn that something interesting happens once you get a story in front of people. No matter how much you rehearse, you will find that your performance begins to change as you hear people react to it. After all, the odds are pretty good that they don’t know where you’re taking them. They’re there to listen. They’re there to go on the journey with you. If they laugh, if they grow uneasy, if they lean forwards in their chairs, it changes what you’re doing. You alter the pacing. You raise or lower your voice. You become a nexus between the words you put on paper and their anticipation for where those words are going to end. It’s an extra level of storytelling that you can’t quite capture on paper and it’s a great feeling, when it all comes together.
So, I’ve gone through Fluff and picked out a couple of great sections to present to you. I’ve tried to make sure they give you a flavour of where that book goes, but doesn’t give too much away. It took a bit of time. There were a few moments from later on in the book that I really wanted to try out with an audience, but I didn’t want to spoil them. Also, thanks to my incredible wife, we’ve got some merch for you as well. If you buy a book on the night, you’ll get a few extra goodies with it. A few treats to say thank you. Also, if you want your copy signed, then I’d be more than happy to sign it.
Although, between you and me, the real thrill of setting up next week hasn't really been about launching my own book. No, that's a fringe benefit. I'm loving the fact I’ve been allowed to bring in some great local writers. At each of the events I’ve attended, their work has really gotten under my skin. Now I’ve basically been permitted to ask for another performance from each of them. That's why we’ve got David Shakes, Nellie Cole and R.M Francis coming along. I’m still incredibly flattered that they’ve all agreed to help launch my second novel. It means a lot to me and I, for one, can’t wait to see what they bring with them. For the record, they all have new work either out or soon to be released. So, if you like what you hear, then it won’t be long before you have something new to put on your bookshelf. Maybe you could set up a Fluff Book Launch section? I would have no problem with that. Hell, I encourage it and I encourage you to share some photos of your purchases.
If you want to join us at The Gunmakers Arms for what Mr Shakes named ‘Beers for Fears’ last night on Twitter, then you can book your free tickets here.
It’d be great to see you there. It’d be great to get a chance to say hi. For me, this is a dream come true. Everything that’s happened, writing wise, since I accidentally joined the fraternity of Indie Horror has felt the same way. From the first novella, to the first appearance in an anthology, to my first story on a podcast. It’s all been part of a rollercoaster that I’m loving far too much to even think about leaving yet. Something tells me that next Thursday is going to be a real high point.