Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The First Kiss...and The Last Word


Question of the Week: We all have tales to tell from book events. What is your best experience and what is your worst?

My answer:

Nothing beats the first time. The first kiss, the first cigarette...the first book launch.

I'm with one of those rare publishers who actually pays for, organizes and hosts their author's book launches. (ECW Press, Toronto.) All I had to do was show up—which was nerve-wracking enough in itself, so thank goodness I wasn't also in charge of those delicious-looking sushi and cheese platters that my stomach was flipping too hard to allow me to take a bite from.

My large, supportive family treated my first launch as importantly as a wedding. My uncle Jack flew in from Texas to be there, my mom invited every friend she had, most of whom came. My friends were amazing. Staff and customers from the pool hall where I used to work showed up. My writing teacher from Humber College came. My high school English teacher even stopped by at the end.

This is no easy industry to forge a career in (as the months to follow would prove) but with a sendoff like that, I felt like my career had officially and emphatically launched.

* * *

The worst event...okay...in a city I won't name, I was on a panel with four authors I won't name, and the moderator (who I absolutely won't name) had a clear favorite book among the panelists' latest releases.

(You guessed right if you thought it wasn't mine.)

The moderator spoke glowingly about this one book she'd loved. She gave it maybe 50% of the panel's air time, and most of her questions were for that book's author. When she spoke about the rest of our books, she sneered and did not glow. Her opinion about the rest of our collective worth would have been clear to a three-year-old.

A particular highlight was when I was giving what I thought was an interesting answer to a question thrown my way, and the moderator cut me off with a snide comment about how highly immature she finds my protagonist, Clare. Which is a compelling discussion point, not untrue at all, and in fact one of the things I like most about writing Clare. But the moderator was not raising this as a discussion point. My mouth opened to form my response, but I was too late—she'd moved on to attack another panelist.


In retrospect, it was so bad that it was funny. And secretly, I hope to be on another panel, somewhere, someday, with this same person moderating. But I'll arm myself with witty comebacks before I get on stage.

Next time, I want the last word.

8 comments:

Paul D. Marks said...

The ups and downs of being an author. But you're lucky, Robin, that you have a supportive publisher and family. I'd say your batting close to a thousand with that.

Susan C Shea said...

I'm jealous that your high school English teacher came to your debut launch. Surely, that's one of the most satisfying reunion settings imaginable!

Catriona McPherson said...

Ohhhh, I so want to know who that was. And you seem to imply that she still moderates? Wow.

Meredith Cole said...

Ouch. What a painful experience... But I'm glad your book launch was so awesome, Robin!

Robin Spano said...

Hey thanks guys. You're right--the overall experience is pretty damn good. Catriona, I will tell you in person sometime.

Susan C Shea said...

Robin, I might have run into the same moderator recently at a national con... :-(

Robin Spano said...

Oh, ouch! Susan, we, too, will have to dish in person sometime!

RJ Harlick said...

The trials and tribulations of moderators...This one did not sound good. Hope you have him or her again so you can have the last say.