“Does this snake look real to you? It doesn’t look real to me. His name is King by the way and he’s the star of The Snake Mistake Mystery.”
The young girl stares at me, gape mouthed. She steals an anxious glance back at her dad. Am I a danger stranger, can she talk to me?
She shakes her head slightly.
“Would you like an autographed bookmark?”
“We’re looking for a book,” the girl finally says.
“What kind of book?” I ask. “Maybe I can help.”
“Your book,” she answers. Apparently I spoke at her school. She’s not sure which in the Great Mistake Series she heard me talk about but I know it’s the one with King in it. When Mom joins us, she suggests they buy all three. Smart woman.
We call them signings but most authors agree that beyond the dreamlike trance you go into when your writing is going well, the best part of our careers are the one-to-one experiences we enjoy with our readers. it always feels a little surreal to realize someone else will actually read our work; we’re sharing a very intimate creative experience with you after all. The bookstore signing is perhaps the easiest way to achieve this interaction.
That doesn’t mean it won’t be painful to sit at a table with piles of our book surrounding us and no one stopping by. Or worse people avoiding our glance. Some writers are introverts.
And while I am an extrovert and love meeting and chatting with new people, I do find the selling of my own stories awkward. So here’s what I tell myself. I am giving each child an encounter with a real live Canadian author.
This is an extraordinary opportunity for them, a cultural experience totally free to them. The book, or just an autographed bookmark, is their souvenir of the experience.