Sunday, July 09, 2006


Before I start my fear meter I have to say that, yes, I know I’m a) lucky to have a book published b) grateful to have publicity c) not complaining.  Did I leave anything out that I could be attacked for?  If I did consider it an oversight.

Today begins the countdown for me.  Thursday night I’m reading at a Borders in NYC.  I have never read from one of my books at a chain store in NYC before. I’ve read at lots of independents all over the country.  I’ve been on book tours where I had to read every night (and sometimes day) for two weeks.  By the time it was over I’d gotten very good at it.  I had no problem reading from the Lauren Laurano books.  I’m not saying I wasn’t nervous.  I was.  Especially the first time.  That was in a small independent in the Village.  My friends owned it and they made me as comfortable as possible.  But my mouth was dry, my hands shaking and I read in a blackout because I couldn’t remember having done it.

But now I’m reading from a new series featuring Faye Quick.  The time is 1943 in NYC.  Faye is a PI because her boss has gone to war.  I’ve only read once from the first book, THIS DAME FOR HIRE. Thursday night will be my first reading from the second book, TOO DARN HOT.

And I’m a nervous wreck.  Yes, again.  I know I got through the Bryant Park affair.  And I know I did fine and wrote here that I should remember that.  But now it’s all a blur and I don’t remember that.  Besides, this is a reading not a panel.  I will be ALONE.  Reading.  Not alone in the store, I hope.  As long as I have to do this I’d like an audience.  There are eight people I can count on.  I know they’ll be there unless some catastrophe happens in their lives.  And I guess that would be okay.  Eight.  The thing is they’ve already read the book. 

If I have to do this (and I do) I want strangers.  People who I might make laugh.  Might get to buy the book.  Afterall, isn’t that the purpose of readings?

First Reader says I read too fast. The first rehearsal this moring clocked in at 33 minutes.  I think that’s too long for people to sit and have to listen to me.  In the past I’ve done about ten minutes, but now I think that’s too short.  I’d like to do twenty.  But if I slow down I won’t get what I want to read into that period of time.  You see the problems involved?

Getting the right thing to read and getting the right time is enough to make me panic.  Reading it the correct way makes me more than panic.  Was I born to be a writer or an actor?  I’ve acted in my past and I wasn’t very good.  And that was only playing one part at a time.  Now I’m expected to play many, many parts.

Sometimes I lose my concentration and then I don’t know where I am, which character I’m reading and I use the wrong voice.  Sometimes I’ll skip a line or a few words and realize it, then say something out of character like “oh, god”. The character in the book, that is.  I try not to lose it completely and use profanity.  That wouldn’t be out of my character, but it would be out of Faye’s.

Oh, what am I going on about?  It’s plain old-fashoined fear.  FEAR.  Why has this happened?  Why do I say yes to these tortures? Why can’t someone else do this in my place?  Okay, I’m short and have brown hair with a lot of gray in it.  Could Laura Lippman pass for me?  I just checked her blog and she’s got her own gig in Coral Gables, FL that night.  Besides, she’s tall and blonde.  How about Annette Meyers?  She weights about 100 pounds less than I and has red hair.  There has to be a short dark writer out there somewhere who’d love to read from my book. That’s ridiculous.  Why would any writer want to read from my book when they could read from their own?  This is a stupid tangent.

I have to face it.  I’m going to live with the rat gnawing at my innards for the next four days.




Bill Peschel said...

I think JT LeRoy's available these days ....

Gena said...

It'll be fine, I'm sure. I was there at Bryant Park, as you know, and I remember the whole thing. You were funny and insightful.

I feel kind of silly giving you advice, but here it is--culled from the few reading experiences I've had: DON'T THINK ABOUT IT ONCE YOU'RE THERE. I'm serious. You can think about it now, and for the next few days, but don't think about what you're doing from the time you enter the store until you're finished. Just do. Don't think. That's how I handled my readings. I was nervous at the beginning, but I didn't think, and soon, felt very comfortable on the stage. I'm a short, dark writer...maybe I could...naahh.

Like I said, you'll be fine, and I'd be there to see you if I didn't have tickets to see Al Green the same night.

mapletree7 said...

I'm so glad it's out!

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

When I was in a critique group that read the work aloud, I never read my own stuff. When they asked me who I wanted to read it I'd always answer, "Orson Welles." Insyead, I'd get one of the non-producing leeches, someone who would slur and stumble over my prose so badly I wanted to kill her and myself. Now that I have a book coming out, I can't imagine doing a reading. And Orson Welles is dead.