Last night I delivered my first ever book reading. The Wheeler Centre in Melbourne invited me and three other authors (including fellow Escape Artist Suneeti Rekha) to read excerpts from our books as part of their Next Big Thing series. The event on 20 March was all about romance.
So I’ve never given a book reading before. The idea of getting up and reading a piece of my work felt more exposing than publishing the thing in the first place. I wasn’t alone in feeling this. It felt as if the distance between reader and author had vanished completely, but I’m not sure what I was really terrified about.
It’s not like the book would be taken down from publication, or that people bring tomatoes to lob at authors whose work they don’t like. At least not in the literary heart of Melbourne.
When asked to speak I wondered what section to read. What part wouldn’t require too much of an explanation? How do you clue people into a story that involves gay twin vampire brothers and their quest through the ages to find true love?
In the end, I took the easy route and chose the opening chapter from Beckoning Blood and went with that. I read it aloud six times to myself to get used to the words. I also spotted bits that, if I had my time again, I’d edit tighter, but it was done and dusted and would have to do.
I was the second speaker on the night, got up under hot house lights in a small and intimate bar setting, and read from my book. How cool is that? I was worried I was reading too fast, but considering the tension and violence that’s in the opening, I think it lent to the atmosphere. Seeing some in the audience visibly take a breath when I finished was a bit of a rush.
The other speakers were great and everyone delivered their work in a way that suited their work. Audience members were attentive and appreciative. In all, it was a warm and friendly event, but also one that made a few of us think, ‘Wow, maybe we are writers after all.’
Thank you to the Wheeler Centre for giving me the opportunity to speak at this event. If you’re in Melbourne, check out the wonderful program they have to offer.