This afternoon, I texted Pete and S before I left for Conspiracy’s event, hoping they would come with me to fill the numbers. Unfortunately, they’d already planned to go to the cinema, which, if I’m honest, was okay too, because then at least S was paying for Pete’s theatre ticket and not me.
Tonight was another book reading in a local library, but luckily there was another author there who brought some of his own followers. I didn’t realise it was a double bill, but it makes sense as this library was really easy to book. Essentially, I rang them, they said, ‘Sure how about 13 March? We’ll do fliers and put it on the library’s Facebook page.’
I thought, ‘Wow, a library with a Facebook page?’ and didn’t really believe it. But sure enough, this little group of rural librarians are quite the event organisers. They have a regular book group, as well as regular book readings and mini-lectures. They’re even talking about putting together a mini-book festival. They said they can get a bit of funding from the arts people for this sort of thing, which helps them keep the library open later than their normal funding will allow. Right on gals.
So, the other author was quite different from Conspiracy. He does that quiet kind of literature where people stand about thinking a lot. Whereas, Conspiracy’s writing is kind of shouty, with people running about a lot. But they made a good contrast to each other, and, for the Q&A section, the woman heading the reading up did a sort of panel thing where the audience (all 26 of them) could ask a question, and then Conspiracy and OtherAuthor could give their response. I think the idea was that they’d give conflicting responses, but Conspiracy and OtherAuthor actually quite agreed on most points. Which may be a bit disappointing, because I think the librarians were looking for an old fashion debate. Or maybe even a punch-up in the stacks. (Behind their studious specs I think I saw a hint of rebellion.)
But it was good all the same, and I sold 19 books, which is a record thus far. (And, it makes my little trolley of books lighter, which is a bigger bonus than the money earned.)
And the best part of the evening was that Fife was there. I totally didn’t expect him to turn up again, but he ducked in a bit late and sat in the back. As soon as the Q&A was finished, and I was selling books for Conspiracy to sign, he wandered over and complemented me on the huge crowd.
I had to confess that it was all the librarians’ doing, to which he winked and said, ‘That’s right. Keep it humble.’
To this I said, ‘Sir, if you’re not going to buy a book you’ll have to step aside.’
Within a moment the tiny queue to buy books was gone, and I was left to chat with Fife. He apologised for not coming to the last event but he had to watch the kids. I waited for him to finish that sentence with, ‘My loving wife who I am devoted to had to work,’ or alternatively ‘The sitter I’ve been using since my wife died was unavailable.’ But he said nothing, and there was an awkward pause.
The problem was that I couldn’t even ask about his kids, because I think he might have told me about them in Greece, and I’d look like a right pratt for not remembering. But I didn’t want to guess, and get it wrong. So after it began to get really uncomfortable, I stammered that it was okay he wasn’t at the last one, that Conspiracy makes a good writing instructor, old ladies love violent crime, and so on and so on until I was completely rambling.
Thankfully Fife interrupted and asked if I needed a ride home. I said that I could use a ride to Dunfermline where I could get a bus toDundee. In fact, I was worried that if I didn’t leave soon, I’d miss the bus to Dunfermline, which in turn would mean missing the last bus to Dundee, so I was dead chuffed to be getting a ride. And I was even more chuffed when he insisted that he bring me all the way to Dundee, and he wouldn’t accept any arguments otherwise.
On the ride back he asked how I was getting on at work, and I said I was given the task of editing Conspiracy’s next novel. He said that he’d read it, and he’d be interested to find what I thought. He told me about his own first manuscript and its initial edit after being picked up by a publisher. He said that he spent five years writing that first novel, had several friends go through it, and he rewrote it twice before sending it to agents. It was rejected several times, but one agent sent very helpful suggestions, so he rewrote the first chapter before it was picked up by another agent. Then to his surprise, his novel was shredded. He had to go through another set of major changes before getting to the minor changes of word choice, and the final changes of copyediting. He said that it was such an exhaustive experience and a bit disappointing. But, he’s finally gotten used to it.
I told him that in the very little experience I had with editing, I try to keep a light touch, and just stick to pointing out things that work and things that don’t. He agreed that that’s the best way to go, because publishing a book is such a collective project that at least it should have a bit of the author’s voice left in it.
Before we knew it, over an hour had passed and we were at my flat. He offered to bring the book trolley upstairs, but I gracefully declined. I was worried we’d bump in to Pete. I don’t know why I was worried about that, but I was. Perhaps I thought Pete would say something stupid, or maybe Fife would ask why I never mentioned a boyfriend. Then again he still hasn’t clarified if he has a wife or not, or maybe it’s implied, or maybe it doesn’t matter because I have a live-in boyfriend, or maybe Fife is just being nice, and I’m being really weird.
In fact, I think I may have a very teenie, weenie, itsy, bitsy crush on Fife. Not like a real crush, just a ‘he’s cool and has a great smile’ sort of crush. The sort of crush you have on your fit history teacher in school. (Not the sort of crush you have on your horrible married pervy literature lecturer in University.)
He has the loveliest smile, his cheeks puff out a bit and his eyes get squinty. He’s got this dark unruly hair with spects of grey, and he’s quite tall really. But, I’m being silly. It’s nothing more than a schoolgirl crush.
So, Pete and S still aren’t back from the cinema. I was going to text them to see where they were, but they might just text back. Or even worse, they may text back that they’re at a party and I should come along. Instead I think I’ll stay home and get cracking on Conspiracy’s book.