Apparently speaking in public is something most people fear worse than death. So it seems doubly ironic that writers, people indulging in the most isolated and lonely and hermit-stylie career are expected to go out and, y'know, talk to the public. Hey, I feel anxious asking someone for directions, let alone having to entertain a hall-full of total strangers. Now, as I prepare to launch into a whole new round of such activities I've decided to compile a few handy tips as a reminder to self, and anyone else contemplating going out there for a bit of face to face.
1. Do not start crying in-front of the audience. Especially if it involves lots of snot. If you feel you may be prone to the odd weep, bring handkerchiefs. Using your suit sleeve to wipe your nose is not good etiquette.
2. Do not make the audience cry or wet their pants or vomit. Especially if parents are present. There was a mix-up at the bookstore and I ended up with an audience of about thirty 6 year old girls, all dressed in fairy outfits. Bearing in mind my previous series was a nihilistic thriller where the first chapter involves our heroine killing a six-year old boy (don't worry, he totally deserved it)it did not go down well with the mummies AT ALL.
3. Do make sure the audience have been checked for weapons. We all want our talks to be interactive and thrilling, but a line must be drawn over live firearms use. AND (I kid you not) dismembered limbs.
4. Do not go to one of the biggest YA book events in America and declare 'I don't believe in YA'. It will not help sell books.Remember there is a thing line between 'audience participation' and 'riot'. If you don't recognize it, the police will.
5. Do have fun. When it works, there's no better feeling. My absolutely bestest moment ever was the signing after when this kid came over and told me he'd never finished a book in his entire like, except for mine. There are few careers that can have that effect on a person. Enjoy it.
Now you're probably wondering if I'm totally safe to be let out in public, but I assure you, I am! And to prove it I'll be giving a talk at the Guardian Open Weekend on Saturday, 24th March (like, THIS Saturday).
Details are on the Events page (above) but basically I'll be at the Hub Library at 4.15pm for an hour. Do come along as we'll be discussing 'Blue-skinned heroes, black goddesses and ten-headed demons', which, I'm sure you'll agree, are the best things in life.