Friday, November 20, 2009

Down among the book stacks

Literary festivals, library events and reading programmes are a novelty for me, but I've been invited to a number of them since The Einstein Girl was published. In October I did a quick spot at the Calderdale Readers' and Writers' Festival in Halifax; and earlier this month I spoke at a similar event in Fulham Library, which is just a mile or two from home. I was a little apprehensive about both events, having little or no idea what I should talk about, but I've hit upon quite a good strategy which so far has produced lively results.

It is standard practice to do a quick reading from the latest book; so I start with that. Then I describe very briefly my writing career, the who, the what, the when. This takes five minutes. Then I throw open the floor to questions.

This is, I will admit, a little risky. People at first can be quite shy. There can be some long pauses before someone pipes up; so I warn the organisers beforehand so that they can step in with a question if need be. So far, though, that hasn't be necessary. Once the questions start, they don't stop. On both occasions so far I have been impressed (and a little humbled) at just how interested people are in the whole publishing business. Many, of course, are writing themselves. It seems if you are prepared to be open and candid about your own experience - the lows as well as the highs - the curiosity only seems to deepen. A few jokes don't hurt either.

Next week I am off to Madrid, where Santillana have lined up 14 press interviews to coincide with the launch of the Spanish edition. Years ago, when I covered southern Europe for a magazine, Madrid was almost my second home. I loved it there. But I discovered the other day, to my amazement, that my last visit was in 1994. I think it is going to feel quite strange going back, either because things have changed, or because they haven't. I can hardly wait.


Mairi said...

Congratulations on The Einstein Girl. I read about it first on Authonomy, on AlleJo's page, and followed her link to your website, which is informative and enticing. I don't have time to read a lot of contemporary fiction but will make a point of this one. The new cover is lovely, as is the Dutch one on your site.

Philip S said...

Many thanks for that Mairi. I hope you enjoy the book. Do tell me what you think, although if you normally feast on the classics (and who can blame you?) you may find TEG a pale shadow by comparison!