And another thing they don’t tell you…


Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

The author turns up, swans up to the platform or lectern and reads excerpts from his/her sensationally wonderful book to melange of adoring fans and yet to be convinced punters.  Who then bring their books up (old or newly purchased) for signing.

And now for the whole truth. 

How the heck is one to choose a passage or two passages which are representative of the book?  Hmn?  And mind you, they have to be really no longer than two and a half pages–because read aloud, that’s about five minutes.  And few people have a longer attention span than that at a reading–unless the author had training with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts or something first and can really make it zing with drama, pathos, humour and all that good stuff. 

But then, you as the author don’t want to give away too much–for the unsuspecting punters.  No, you want them to have all the surprises that the other readers had, who read it without having heard any of it first. 

So, pick something that’s definitive, but a non-spoiler, something with a beginning and an ending, with not too many unknown characters speaking (that’s confusing) but that is sure to engage and entrance an audience without shocking or offending (no sexism, racism, age-ism or obscenities) or in any way being objectionable to the man on the street.  Not a problem, right?  Okay.  You try it. 

Oh, and you have actually to be able to read it aloud too.  Without sounding like you’re functionally illiterate. 

So, Paul House and I–in expectation of today and a sequence of readings next week–spent yesterday trying to choose passages.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha.  

I believe I have about five.  Right length, don’t give too much away, the writing’s good or very good in ’em, I can indeed spit all the words out, and don’t offend.  I hope.  

House is still, er, deciding…

I shall report back on how many rotten tomatoes were thrown, shall I?


One comment on “And another thing they don’t tell you…

  1. B.Lloyd says: make sure you catch them all, so that we can have a really good fry-up afterwards. A thought . . . have you considered taking Deej with you on these occasions ? He oculd do the talking for you . . .get the readers to feed him, then you sign the books . . .tell’em he’s descended from Myddleton’s thoroughbred, everyone loves a bit of historical detail like that . . .
    Oh dear. I feel another attack of G&S coming on . . . you will have to excuse me, – no, cannot contain it : it seems so apposite to have Iolanthe’s Nightmare song at this juncture . . . :

    When you’re reading away with a dismal headache, and repose is taboo’d by anxiety,
    I conceive you may use any language you choose to indulge in, without impropriety;
    For your brain is on fire – the pages conspire of usual diction to plunder you:
    First your composure goes, and added to your woes, soon your chair slips demurely from under
    Then a vocal chord tickles – you feel like mixed pickles – so terribly sharp is the pricking,
    And you’re hot, and you’re cross, and you stumble at loss till there’s nothing but spittle left
    Then the audience all creep to the ground in a heap, and you pick ’em all up in a tangle;
    Next your inkpot resigns and politely declines to remain at its usual angle!

    (Well, if that does happen, you can claim ink splatters as decoration or Rausch experiments . . .)
    (scuttles off bashfully, surreptitiously pocketing several rose creams on the way)

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