If your idea of “high tech fun” involves gears, goggles, and corsets, you’re probably a steampunk fan. This popular genre of fiction and film imagines an alternate Industrial Age, in which steam power and Newtonian physics reign supreme. Imagine if Victorian science fiction were real, and you’ll get an idea of what steampunk’s all about.
My fellow Cogwheel Press author Bruce Hesselbach and I will jointly present an introduction to the kinds of Victorian-era technology that really existed, and inspire steampunk authors today. Our illustrated lecture will take place at Forbes Library, 20 West St., Northampton, MA at 7:00 p.m. I'll be talking about examples of Victorian domestic technology I've encountered in my work as a museum consultant, and Mr. Hesselbach will introduce “strange but real” inventions reimagined in steampunk literature. Both of us will be available to sign copies of our books.
Hope to see you there!
Bruce Hesselbach is an attorney living in Newfane, VT, and the author of Perpetual Motion, a steampunk alternative history novel. His web site is www.hesselbachwriter.com.
Books & Boos 514 Westchester Rd Colchester, CT
Join me tomorrow night, June 25, 2013 from 5-7 p.m. at Books & Boos, 514 Westchester Rd., Colchester CT for an author appearance and book signing! I'll be reading from Discovering Ren, and signing personalized copies. I really love to talk with readers (and writers), so if you're in the area be sure to stop by!
Other than perhaps starving, or pounding one's head on the keyboard, I don't think there's an activity more iconic of the author's life than the book signing. Think of the movies that feature authors as characters - pretty much every one of them introduces the character as an author by showing him or her at a book signing. It's like showing Big Ben to say, "Hey, we're in London," or maybe the loaf french bread sticking out of the shopping bag to say, "Hey, I just bought groceries." Most authors look forward to the idea of a signing as much as finally convincing your family that your writing career isn't a total waste of time, maybe as much as cashing the first royalty check. It's a milestone, a rite of passage, something that's expected, something that makes you a grown-up, "real" writer. Or, so we tell ourselves.
But, all you writers and authors out there, just how many book signings have you actually been to? C'mon, be honest. Maybe you stood in line for John Grisham, or E.L. James, or J.K. Rowling or Jim Butcher or Joss Whedon (I'd totally stand in line for them), but mid list authors? local authors? people you've never heard of? Unless the author in question is friend or family, you probably haven't shown up. I'm fortunate to live in a town with a vibrant cultural life, and I see listings in the newspaper pretty much every week of local author appearances, but I admit that the only one I've gone to was for a friend in my writing group.
I'm going to be doing an "appearance" (that's what they call these events, apparently) at Broad Street Books, the official bookstore cafe from one of my alma maters, on May 9, 2013 at 5:30. Having picked a date and begun the appropriate publicity, I'm now facing yet another existential crisis (jeepers, how many of these can creative people endure?): What on earth do I do when the actual event takes place? Do I show up, Sharpie marker in hand, and grin like a stupid idiot (yes, apparently)? Do I try to read from the book? Do I just drink coffee and try to blend in and hope no one actually tries to talk to me? We're told that readers want to "interact" with authors these days. They want contact, they want to know that the author is a "real" person. Except I'm not entirely sure they really want authors to be "real" people. I think they might possibly want authors to be more than real people with silly foibles and mixups and what did I do with my phone and why is there a stain on my sweater? I think that people want contact, yes, but they want contact with the magic-making that is storytelling.
Once upon a time, the bards and singers and storytellers of a culture were revered because they could weave magic into words and conjure reality out of memory or legend. They were thought to be a little odd, a little fey because they were in touch with the invisible, and formed a lifeline to the world of the past or that of the gods or ghosts or supernatural that their listeners craved to know.
Is it so different today? Think about it - if you could meet your favorite author or movie maker or actor for drinks on your porch, would you know exactly what to say? Would you want to know that this person who connected you with something outside of reality accidentally put a dark sock in the white laundry yesterday? Or are you really looking for a conduit to that magic that reshaped your perception and left a mark on your soul? Why would you collect that signature on the title page if it weren't some kind of totem, ensuring that you will always have that connection, no matter what else changes?
Pity us poor authors, who flounder and dread this moment when we come face-to-face with a reader. We don't know what to do or who to be in order to meet your expectations. I've gotten lost in a parking garage (on numerous occasions), so how on earth can I be your bridge to another world? I'm terrified that you'll come, and I'll be brutally disappointed if you stay home. I'll smile, and be shy all at once. After all, I put part of my soul out in the world for you. I hope you like the book.