A warm feeling enveloped me at the Leigh & Wigan Words Festival yesterday as a small flash mob gathered around me in a corner of Wigan library to meet me. Mob might be an exaggeration of the quantity and an abuse of their good nature in the quality of their overt friendship. I’d come to talk about and sell copies of ARIA: Left Luggage but I wasn’t quite sure whether this was to be a simple sign and sell; move on to the next, or a reading, or a chat. No one seemed to know. Being a relatively small crowd we pulled their chairs into a semicircle with me, my box of sweets and books, facing them. I only knew one of them, Mike Hunt – the chair of the Festival committee and my friend from BeWrite Books days (RIP one of the most ethical publishing concerns). I’d met Joan on facebook but knew none of the others.
The group engaged me in interactive dialogue when I told them how I got the ideas behind ARIA with its unique concept of infectious amnesia, me being the first fiction writer to have received help from an astronaut in orbit, why science fiction allows me and readers to escape the limitations of setting our imagination on just one planet. The two hours flashed by and with great bonhomie they ate my chocs and bought my books.
A reporter and photographer from the Observer were there to quiz me for 20 minutes. Andrew Nowell was a cultured young man who recognised which Shakespearean reference is allured to in the title of my 2008 SF mystery – Exit, Pursued by a Bee. Clever chap. I look forward to reading his interview in me. All of you can when you buy the next copy of the Wigan Observer.
My nerves rattled in me for days in advance making me useless for fresh ideas and writing as well as domestic duties, but I need not have worried. Wigan Library is a fine new venue and the people are friendly – I didn’t even have to wear a rugby shirt.
I had ordered a large screen TV to show my short video trailer of ARIA but even a small screen wasn’t available. Shame. The youtube version of it has now reached 500 viewers! Go on, make it 501 now! ARIA video trailer here
Will Self drew a greater crowd and good for him, one day, one day…
A piece of practical advice which I’m told – after the event – by the chairman, is to ensure the blurb for flyers and advertisements emphasise that it isn’t just a signing but a discussion with the actual author. Apparently, more people would have attended if they knew that.
Upcoming4me has an intriguing piece about how I thought of and influences behind ARIA here.
Exit, Pursued by a Bee link is here