People kept asking me all day — all week leading up to the weekend, really: “Are you nervous?” I’d answer “Yeah, somewhat”, or “Not really”, or “I used to read in church all the time”*. I was a little nervous, though.
Friday afternoon, after the screenwriting session, I went home and — for the first time — read aloud the section I’d intended to read. I timed myself. It took four minutes to read the description of the dream palace erected by the gods at the far end of time. Four minutes. I had fifteen to fill.
So I read the first half of the story aloud, which came to something like eleven or twelve minutes. That was more like it. The downside was that it was, well, a little sweary. The viewpoint character is a trickster god, named Fox, and he’s … earthy.
Which wouldn’t be so bad, but my mom was coming for the reading.
So. Reading time. The president of Words Alive introduced me, and I went up with my copy of Tesseracts 14, turned to my story, and started to read.
As I read, I looked out at the crowd every so often, to see what they were thinking. I honestly could not read them. Some looked like they were having fun; some were intent. At least none were sleeping; I decided that I’d call that a victory.
After my reading, I sat down, and listened to Kathryn Borel, Jr.‘s tales of France, her dad, and accidental vehicular manslaughter. When she was done, Joseph Boyden read from his non-fiction tale of Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont. He said it was a strange thing, being able to read from the end of his book at a reading. You know, since we already know how it ends.
Afterward, there was a wine and cheese evening. I signed a few books, and had a chance to chat with both Joseph and Kathryn. Kathryn told me that I was a very funny guy, and needed just to loosen up a little. She also said that, when she’d come in, she’d seen my mother sitting there, and thought Oh no, since, as she says, she doesn’t usually go over well with mothers. But then I did my reading, swearing like a trickster god afflicted with ennui, and she sighed with relief.
Joseph had to leave early, to catch a plane to the next stop, but Kathryn joined the party as it left one venue and trooped to the next one. Later that evening, she demonstrated the art of champagne sabering in the street.
My mom and I left the party about one in the morning, as it was winding down (for most; the proprietor of Venue 2 was up till 3AM, cleaning up).
It was a great weekend.
And in a post-mortem way, I had two very exciting pieces of news at the next Group Voice*** meeting.
- Joseph Boyden, disappointed that Tesseracts had sold out, asked Keith — the Words Alive prez, and bookstore proprietor — to ship him a copy once he’s restocked. I fully intend to sign it, too, before it heads down to New Orleans.
- One of the audience members turned to Betty, a fellow writer in Group Voice, and asked her if all the stories in Tesseracts were written by yours truly. Betty told her no, it’s an anthology, and I have just the one story in it. “Too bad,” her friend said. “If it was all his, I’d buy a copy.”
Bit of an ego stroke, there.
All in all, I sure am looking forward to next year’s Festival! See you there?
* To be fair, the Word of the Lord has fewer F‑bombs and farting ferrets.**
** Accidental alliteration is the order of the day, it seems.
*** The local writin’ group.