My first solo author event
Recently I was honoured to be invited to Coventry University, to talk about my work. So, last Friday, I had my first official solo author event, namely attending a genre fiction seminar run by lecturer Alyson Morris.
I was pretty nervous, not knowing what to expect exactly and being told I needn’t prepare any notes. Actually being asked to talk about my work to people who don’t know me personally is a novelty in itself to me! It all went really well though. Alyson was lovely and welcoming, and had prepared a set of interview-style questions to prompt discussion along, which was very helpful. I know how difficult it is even now for me to ask questions during a Q and A session with an author I like and I can remember how much harder it was back when I was at university, so I did sympathise with the students quite a bit.
Far more people turned up than I ever expected – not only the students in the class in question, but also a few others who were interested, about 15 in total I think. I’ve read work out at events to groups larger than that before, but it’s strange to think that a group of people that large had all read, or at least heard of a piece of my work.
The piece of work in question is Life Skills, a short story that I wrote back in 2007 which was published in an Earlyworks Press anthology called The Road Unravelled. This story is used in the genre module of the Coventry University creative writing degree course. To know that my work is routinely used as a teaching aid at a university is probably the proudest I’ve felt through my writing career and it’s so nice to be recognised for it.
It was especially brilliant to hear some of the students’ interpretations of the meaning of Life Skills. I felt a bit of a cop-out telling them that it was written based entirely on a dream I had, but it’s still a good illustration of where you can get inspiration from! All I’ve ever really wanted as a writer is to have people read, enjoy and engage with my work so hearing people discuss it and interact with it is the most rewarding thing I’ve experienced.
I also got to meet Jamie Lock, one of the students who adapted Life Skills into a play script as part of his third year coursework. It was fantastic to meet one of the writers responsible for such a great, thought-provoking adaptation (again – never thought I’d have my work adapted into a script!)
Far from not having anything to say, I actually found it quite easy to talk (in fact, probably ramble on!) about subjects such as amateur self-publishing, which are very close to my heart and which I’ve gathered quite a bit of practical experience in lately. I was worried that my dreaded nerves would take over, but thanks to Alyson’s prompt questions, the discussion never faltered. I hope that the students took at least something of use away from the seminar and that they enjoyed it a fraction as much as I did (also, to reiterate, it was pasta I had for my dinner the previous night, for the guy who asked that question! ;-)