I'm sitting at the airport waiting for the first of two planes which will take us to Helsinki for about a week. The flight is delayed by an hour because the crew arrived late last night and they are (rightly) entitled to a proper rest break. We still have a two hour gap between this flight and the next so I'm not stressing about missing connections - I tend not to worry about these things anyway, it's a pretty pointless exercise to panic about something I am powerless to change.
While I'm waiting, I'll tell you about an event I was invited to read at a couple of days ago, and if the wifi behaves, there might be a book cover snippet too.
On Wednesday evening I took myself into Edinburgh to meet up with Ian Skewis, Tabatha Stirling and Helen Taylor - all Unbound authors - to do an event at Blackwell's Bookshop. If you have known the city for a long time, this used to be James Thin's Bookshop. Blackwell's took over both the general bookshop function and the academic book side of the business a number of years ago.
We had seen the event grow on the Eventbrite booking website over the last few weeks, from two people to more than eighty. This was quite astonishing. We didn't have any books to sign or for the shop to sell. This means it was a particularly generous act on the part of Blackwell's since they wouldn't make any profit from us being there. Of course the event was free, and there was no way of knowing if everyone would attend - it was a particularly foul night which added to the uncertainty.
The place was packed with only two or three seats left empty. Friends, family and colleagues past and present all arrived with smiles and good wishes which was just... well, it was a little overwhelming.
We each read from our books, and I opted to go last. Helen had a dry cough but coped admirably, dividing her reading into two parts. Tabatha read a quite heart-rending piece from 'Blood on the Banana Leaf' which is about the maid culture in Singapore.
Ian has a professional drama school background and it really showed with a polished performance from 'Murder of Crows', a crime thriller.
And then it was my turn. The only time I have read in public before this was at an open mic event in June with an empathetic and equally nervous audience of fellow first-timers. Both my parents were actors before they went off to have different careers but I can say, hand on heart, without a any doubt at all, that the thespian genes completely bypassed me. I am the sort of person who gets wobbly talking to the window cleaner.
I had prepared in the only way I know how; I talk to myself.
I've done it for years as job interview prep. I stand in front of the long mirror in the bedroom and I talk. I practice how the sentences sound, I tweak a word here or a phrase there. I watch my body language and gestures and try to make them match with what I'm saying. I work out where the pauses need to be. I do it when I'm driving the car too. If a police officer were to stop me for using a hands free device they would find my phone in my bag, switched off, and I would be prattling on about the injustices of workers rights in 1911.
For the book event I also decided to take props. I knew I was last and that people might be tired after a long day at work, so I wanted a couple of things to pass around the audience to act as a tactile reminder of the story. A couple of bobbins seemed to be the most appropriate thing to offer.
And the last thing I did was to offer to show the cover (the first version of it) to anyone who wanted to see it. I had downloaded it onto my iPad but I didn't want tech to get in the way so I said they could come and see me at the end if they wanted a sneak peek.
There was time for a few questions from the book-loving audience and then we drew things to a close. I think all of us were delighted by the response. People came up to say hello, to ask more questions of each of us individually, and, I'm delighted to say, there were many who wanted to see the cover which got a lot of positive feedback.
I promised a cover snippet but the software for the blog doesn't seem to like airport wifi so I'll do that for you very soon.