Well, what a Book Week Scotland I’ve had. Last night’s launch in Dunblane Library was absolutely amazing. We filled the whole library to the gunnels with people quietly arriving like members of some obscure sect, the Library building lit with flickering candles.
I was so touched by how many friends came along to support DARKER ENDS, my third book. People went to a lot of effort, venturing out in the cold and wet, even coming from as far away as Glasgow and Edinburgh. My talk goes down a treat, partly because it’s characterized by honesty and passion about my whole approach to the writing life. I appear as someone who is small and quiet, but believe me – I can handle a big audience! In fact, I love a stage. I just want to do more and more of it. Sorry if that sounds arrogant, but I’ve learnt the hard way that there is an appropriate time in which to blow one’s own trumpet! And NOW is that TIME.
I spoke to almost everyone who came along, and if I didn’t get to speak to you, I still really appreciated you being there. My presentation is pretty wowwy, complete with images and sounds. It tells the story of my journey, likens writing to an iceberg! And speaks passionately about the wonders of Scottish history and the power of the ghost story.
At the end I heard bangs going on, and thought someone was stamping on the balloons. But no, Judy Murray had kindly laid on some fireworks. So we piled onto the step outside the library. “I bet JK Rowling didn’t get this?” said Marin, a French student who is studying in Glasgow with my daughter. He’s good at the one-liners. He and Harry rescued the sound for me when I was in mid-flow during presentation. We all admired the fireworks then trooped back in again for more wine and chat. I couldn’t have asked for a more amazing turn-out!
MITCHELL THEATRE, MITCHELL LIBRARY, GLASGOW
Then there was the launch on Tuesday at the above amazing location. My son Micah came along as my sound man, and the technicians were pretty impressed with my PowerPoint know-how. I had it all in the bag! I was miked up like Eddie Izzard. There was a proper backstage atmosphere with technicians giving instructions in my ear before I went on, while Margaret Houston was introducing me to an audience of 400 school kids from places like Easterhouse and Drumchapel. My son said they were clambering over chairs and really lively, but when I walked out on stage, very little against the huge screen, they all fell silent. And they remained hushed for the rest of the performance. They were such an amazing group of kids, so warm and engaged and willing to lap it all up, and learn. Afterwards, the queue for buying books was so long that we thought they were in the wrong queue. “This isn’t for borrowing books, this is the queue for buying,” but no, they were in the right queue. I found it really heartening that parents had given their kids money to buy a book. These children were eager to lap up what they could. It only serves to underline the importance of libraries, even though we will be losing many of them soon… (more on that, later!)
At the end of the event, Margaret said “How would you like to do the same thing all over again in March for the WeeWrite Festival?” So we confirmed it, and she wrote it on a serviette for me. I’ll be doing the same ‘gig’ twice in one day, March 4th. I’m beginning to crave an audience. It’s funny, I like either complete solitude and peace… or else a stage on which to play. I could really get into this performance malarky!