This week, I made my very first ‘appearance as an author’! So, naturally, the Fates conspired to make the entire thing as difficult as was humanly possible.
Those Fates are Bitches.
The event was the VIP members evening at the Dymocks bookstore in Tuggeranong. (Dymocks, for my non-Australian readers, is an Australian bookchain (http://www.dymocks.com.au/) and I have a long history of spending vast amounts of time and money in their establishments. Tuggeranong, for my non-Canberran readers, is a quarter of Canberra – one of the valleys that the city flows through.) This was an evening they were holding for members of their Booklover loyalty program (of which I am, ahem, a Gold Member.) The local rep for HarperCollins Australia had asked, ages ago, if I would like to attend, and I was extremely enthusiastic.
Then things started happening, just to spite me.
To begin with, as you may recall from my previous blog entry, I was struck down by a disease. It was never professionally diagnosed, but given the constantly running nose, the sore throat, and the cough, I feel safe in asserting that it was, um, bubonic plague. So, come the day before the event, I was still in the throes of this blight, and I had to advise that I wouldn’t be able to attend. I was convinced that my appearance would not only discourage people from buying my book, but it would also discourage people from buying any books at all.
However, the next day dawned, and I felt, not exactly 100%, but certainly less pestilential. So, I called Jodi (the rep) and asked if they might still have me. And she allowed as how they might. I was still a shambling mound of vile, but I was determined that I would make it.
Whereupon, the Fates (those cunning wenches) idly lobbed another wrench my way.
For you see, Thursday was Thanksgiving. And while the O’Malleys may reside in Australia, they adhere firmly to the tradition of Turkey Day. I absolutely had to be home by 6:30, when the guests would be arriving. Which would only give me a limited time to be at the event (it began at 5:30). Still even a flying visit would be awesome. I made arrangements with a longsuffering friend to pick me up from work (if I was well enough to attend an author event then, according to the Laws of O’Malley, I was well enough to go to work, and infect my colleagues). He would shuttle me down to Tuggeranong, where I would press the flesh, foist some sample chapters on hapless Booklovers, shill The Rook, possibly pick up some discounted books, and then zip home in time to gorge on a hapless turkey.
The Fates looked upon my plans, and laughed hollowly.
To begin with, my friend did not materialize with his car. It transpired that someone had seen him park in a handicapped parking place (which he is totally allowed to do – he’s got a handicap, and the related card that lets him park where he wants). They had felt that he did not look sufficiently handicapped, and decided to register their disapproval by parking directly behind him, so as to prevent him from leaving. It took a fair amount of time for this avenging angel to appear, and then he felt the need to lecture my friend on his parking/inadequately obvious handicap before he would move the car. Meanwhile, I was bouncing up and down in a distant parking lot, watching the moments flow away.
Finally, finally my friend appeared, and we sped on down to Tuggeranong. Or at least, we would have done, had the Fates not had a word with the operators of every traffic light between my work and the Dymocks Tuggernanong. And then, just to spite me even more, they arranged for traffic to back up. I was tearing my hair and rending my garments by the time we got to the bookstore and elbowed aside the shoppers who were dithering about outside.
Well, it was great. My rep embraced me (probably exposed herself to the flu), and showed me around, and introduced me to the bookstore proprietress. There were a couple of other local authors there, including the supremely nice Tracey O’Hara, whom I’ve met before. So, we howdied and shook, and then I wandered about, shoving sample chapters at people, and importuning them to buy my book when it comes out next year. Which led to one of the more interesting interactions I’ve had in my professional career, which I shall recreate for you here.
(Dan approaches a young guy who is browsing in the Fantasy/Sci-Fi section)
Dan: Hi, can I interest you in a sample chapter from a book that’s coming out next year?
Guy: No thanks. The author is a friend of the family, so I’ve already read the first chapter.
(Dan is somewhat nonplussed, since he has no idea who this guy is.)
Dan, feebly: Oh! Right.
(Dan is rapidly realizing that, not only does he not know who this guy is, but this guy has no idea who he is.)
Dan: Well, that’s cool.
Rep: Hey Dan, things are going okay? People interested in your book?
Dan: Some are.
Guy: Oh, you’re Danny!
Dan: Yeah. (Brief pause. Then, revelation strikes.) Are you one of my mom’s students?
Dan: Ah. Cool.
I have to confess, those few moments, after he claimed the author was a friend of the family, were some of the longest of my life. But, I got home in time for Thanksgiving!
And there was much gorging.