I recently completed my first ever public reading. The event, organised by my publishers, Bloodhound Books, was held at a venue in Kings Cross, London, on Saturday 1 July. Ten of us were lined up to read, although a couple couldn’t make it. To say I was a bundle of nerves is an understatement. I’ve had to hold an audience before, when delivering IT training sessions, but reading out segments from my first book, Bad to the Bone, was a whole new experience.
A wonderful experience, as it turned out. Once we got the PA system sorted, the whole event ran smoothly. In attendance were most of the Bloodhound crew, a lot of fellow Bloodhound authors, plus a few outside the kennel, including David Videcette. There were also bloggers and people who are simply fans of books. The event was sold out, and it ended up spilling outside, too. Members of the public looked on, and happily some got involved, asking questions and seeming to enjoy themselves.
The readings themselves ranged from languid to bombastic. I was last on, and imagined that by then the crowd would be wanting it all over. Instead they were attentive and wonderful throughout. I ended with a snippet that contained some real dark humour, and I think I nailed it. Some of the faces were a picture, and I got a great round of applause at the end – as did every reader.
Because we overran, and also because by then the noise from the bar and restaurant had peaked, we did not do the listed Q&A. That was a shame, but the right call. Instead, we got together to sing happy birthday to a member of the Bloodhound crew who was elsewhere on the night, and to pose for photos.
There is some ugly stuff going around at the moment, with some authors deliberately marking down reviews and spreading rumours about other authors. Social media trolling has unfortunately caught up to the literary world. I have to say that is in complete contrast to what I have discovered in my short time amongst fellow authors. Each of them so far has been warm and generous with their time, and being with the Bloodhound authors felt like being part of a small community.
The reading event was a hit, and I am sure Bloodhound will do it again. I imagine they would want the authors who could not attend this time to take part in the next, but if they ask me I will be more than up for it. I wasn’t confident going in, but when I was done I was not only relieved, I was also quite proud of myself. Being there that night also made me feel that I had 'arrived'.
My thanks to all at Bloodhound Books, my fellow hounds, to the authors, bloggers, book-lovers and everyone else whose presence made it a great night and a unique experience – you can never have your first time again, after all.