Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Almost Famous? No, not really.

OK, if you know me at all, you will be thoroughly bored with me going on and on and on about the reading 'gig' I had on Saturday.

But, in case you were sat in a bibliophobic void for the past couple of weeks... On Saturday I ventured into the Wild West (Midlands) to visit Southcart Books in Walsall during their festivities for Independent Booksellers Week.

It wasn't just me, obviously... I mean there were some real writers there too.  Ones with talent and imagination and money and everything. All very imposing.

I won't bore you with the details of the trip down, it was reasonably uneventful.  Obviously the SatNav let me down a couple of times by suggesting some completely fictional lane choices at junctions that caused the DandyMobile to cover about twice the mileage that she had to.  Oh, and there was a bus that tested the very limits of my military defensive driving training on the Lichfield Road. (It was a good job that the Mehmsahib had convinced me to leave the Desert Eagle at home I can tell you)  Other than that, it was a pretty sweet trip.

We arrived about two hours into the event, which turned out to be a bit of a mistake as far as the official publicity pictures were concerned, and everything was in full swing.

Here's the group photo, can you spot who isn't there? (Photo by Craig Beas)

The shop was brimming with interesting people and I treated myself to a quick game of "Try to figure out which of these people are other authors and which are just clinically odd." - I lost, which is strange when you realised that I was just playing with myself... I mean... No, nevermind, you get the gist.

I introduced myself to Scott, the owner, and The MicroDandy introduced himself to Amy, Scott's partner and co-owner, by asking for a cake - This is one of his three standard opening gambits when meeting a new person, and the only one that involves food.

We mingled for a while, scanning the laden shelves of the Fantasy & Sci-Fi sections (Which in fairness, mainly consisted of me whispering "Goddit, Goddit, Goddit" under my breath and Mrs Dandy sighing.)

I managed to catch the end of Lucy Onions reading from her new book, Good for Nothing (Which obviously, you should all go out and buy) - We like Lucy Onions, as well as being a great author, she's a fine photographer AND the lead female vocalist of Northern Soul/Motown Party Band Soul'd Out - She also used the word 'Surreal' to describe my writing, which made me do a big grin.  She also wears great shoes.

I missed the next author's set, (This was a huge ommission on my part, see below) as my good friend and fellow Penguin's Header, Neil Sehmbhy arrived and we did some manly fist-bumps and talked about marketing strategy and cupcakes.

Then it was my turn to address the teeming throng...

Here is me, before my head went purple (Photo by Lucy Onions)
As I sat there, in front of a dozen or so people and spied the nice lady whose set I had just missed. "Feels strange sat up here, in front of all of these people doesn't it?" I said.  She looked at me oddly, which was the correct reaction as she didn't know who I was in the slightest and replied that you got used to it after a while, especially when you did the amount of shows and Cons that she did. (That might have come across sounding as if she was being a bit curt, she really wasn't) I later found out that she was Theresa Derwin, author of Horror, Sci-Fi and Urban Fantasy (You should buy all of her books too, obviously)

I'd planned to read a post from each 'Volume' of the collected Chimping Dandy, which I did.  And then I was going to finish with the famous 'Library Scene' from Windspider... But I didn't have time, you know why?  Because real people were asking me real questions about both my writing and The Penguin's Head.  I'm reliably informed that not all of my answers sounded like I was pulling them out of my rear end.  Some did obviously, but there were applause and laughs so I consider that it was all a bit of a success.

The MicroDandy, Bless his little black heart, filmed both of my readings on his KiddieZoom camera.  I present them for you below, should you be interested.

Above is me reading 'Thermodynaimcs, it's the law', the story about the relationship between my Dear Old Dad (TM) and a frozen pigeon.

And the other one is me reading 'The Price of Everything, but the Value of Nothing' which explains how money isn't actually worth anything and may as well not exist.

You'll notice that my head went purple during the performance, this is nothing to worry about and is completely natural.

During this time, the remaining third of The Penguin's Head arrived in the form of the literary Demigod (or do I mean Demagogue?) James Josiah and the rest of the afternoon dissolved into a bit of a bro-fest.

I did however, manage to hear some of Ian Billings' set, which managed to keep the MicroDandy enthralled. No real surprise as the gentleman in question was once a scriptwriter for Chucklevision. (amongst a huge list of other amazing things - Buy his books too, if you have kids that is, or if you're infantile... I'm not one to judge)

All in all, a day well spent.

If you find yourself in Walsall with a spare five minutes, you could do a lot worse that moseying down to Southcart books and taking a look around - Tell them that I sent you and you'll get a free "What are you talking about? Who's the bloody Chimping Dandy?" from the owners.

Southcart Books
20-21 Lower Hall Lane (You know, the white-painted one that used to be the hairdressers?)


  1. Absolutely brilliant blog. As witty, intelligent and as crazy as you! Thanks for the wonderful mention and thanks for crediting me for the photos! Xxx

  2. It's all good!! Carrie (AKA Anon)