Hello followers, casual readers and unfortunate passers-by who cannot locate the ‘back’ button fast enough or have particularly slow computers that haven’t responded to the pressing of said button. You may as well stay and read this now you’re here. What’s the worst that could happen?
So, hello to you all and welcome to another instalment of “In Conversation With…”. Last time we spoke to The Beardy Book Blogger himself. He was an idiot, but a pleasant enough idiot, I guess. You can read that here, if you’re feeling particularly masochistic.
Of course the more observant readers amongst you will know that *drum roll please* I am The Beardy Book Blogger! I know right? So why did I interview myself? Well, I explained all that in the previous post so hop off, have a gander, and then return to this point here.
Hello again. All caught up? Amaze beans.
So why am I doing this again? Well…
The other evening I went to a Thing. What Thing was this? It was a book launch, but not any old book launch, oh no! This was a dual launch for Steph Broadribb’s Deep Blue Trouble and Johana Gustawsson’s Keeper, both published by Orenda Books.
How did it go? What happened? Who did I stalk, er, talk to? Why didn’t they call the police? Well, I sent myself, The Beardy Book Blogger, off to find out and this is what I/he/we experienced…
TBBB: Hello again Martin or Mart. How have you been since we last spoke?
TBBB: Firstly, it’s just Martin or Mart – we went through this last time.
TBBB: Ah yes, sorry. I forget stuff you know.
TBBB: Tell me about it.
TBBB: Tell me about what?
TBBB/TBBB: (both laugh hysterically) Ahhh, we’re funny.
TBBB: Ok, ok, let’s get down to business. You went to a book launch right?
TBBB: That is correct. I went to the launch for two, yes two Orenda book titles.
TBBB: Amaze beans. So, what were those titles?
TBBB: You know what they were, you were there.
TBBB: Here we go…Give me strength…yes, I know that, but the good readers of this post don’t! *slaps forehead* ow!
TBBB: That’s going to leave a mark. But you said what they were at the top of the post. Do you wan…
TBBB: OK, OK, I GET IT!!! Dear readers, if you wish to refresh your memories then please go back the top of this post and come back again. *takes a deep breath* Riiiiight, let’s start again. SO, you went to the launch for Keeper and Deep Blue Trouble then?
TBBB: Hey, that’s right.
TBBB: I’m guessing you took lots of photos, asked piercing, insightful questions?
TBBB: Welllllll, I did ask questions, yes.
TBBB: Insightful ones?
TBBB: Let’s move along…
TBBB: We shall see I guess. Right, so what about photos? You took a shed load of photos right? You know, to, like, remember the occasion? Or to garnish this blog post?
TBBB: You’re a tit.
TBBB: …but, but I was having too much fun to think about taking them. I did get a couple though, and I will *cough* borrow *cough* some that I have seen on the Twitter web.
TBBB: You lazy sod. Some blogger you’re turning out to be. Ok, I guess they will have to do. RIGHT, let’s get down the serious nitty gritty of the night. Tell us all about it from the beginning…
TBBB: Sorry about the photos.
TBBB: Forget it. Just tell us about the day.
TBBB: Well, I had a pretty fitful nights sleep, tbh, and when my alarm went off at 7am I ….
TBBB: NOT right at the beginning you berk. Seriously, next time I’m sending someone else. I mean start at the beginning of the event.
TBBB: I wasn’t there at the beginning.
TBBB: I missed the beginning.
TBBB: You are trying my patience, you are. What do you mean “I missed the beginning”?
TBBB: Well, it started at 6pm and I finish work at 6pm, so I had to leave work, walk to the station, buy a train ticket, get on train (after waiting for the train to arrive and then stop, otherwise it could’ve been messy), sit on train, travel on train to St Pancras, get on tube (oh, after walking to the Piccadilly Line platform – the train wasn’t waiting for me when I got off of the Thameslin…..
TBBB: What did you hit me for? Owwww, that stings. It’s going to bruise you know?
TBBB: I am sorry about this readers. I have had a word with myself and normal posting shall now resume. Ok, where were I? Ah yes, so tell me about the event from WHEN YOU ARRIVED!
TBBB: *sniff* really hurts…
TBBB: Put some butter on it you big baby. Ok, get on with it!
TBBB: Right, I arr…. butter?
TBBB: Yes, that was what mum always used to say was best for bruises. I was always getting smeared in butter as a lad, I seem to recall. No wonder people said I smelt funny and the girls never liked me and for my brief irrational fear of toast *ponders*
TBBB: You never had a fear of toast, numb nuts, but this our mum we’re talking about here. The same mum who used to pretend that she was in the Drug Squad.
TBBB: This is true. Ok, forget the butter…
TBBB: I haven’t got any anyway.
TBBB: Ok, so, what happe….
TBBB: Will margarine do? Did mum ever mention margarine? Ooh, there’s some lard…
TBBB: STOP WITH THE BUTTER TALK! Let’s just get on with the chat, shall we? What happened after you arrived?
TBBB: Okaaaay, well I arrived *fliches* no, no, at the venue, I arrived at the venue…
TBBB: …around 7pm, but by then I had missed the introductions, talk and the reading of the extracts, but that was ok as I have read both books anyway. You can read my review of DBT here and Keeper here.
TBBB: And bloody marvellous reviews they are too.
TBBB: Why thank you, they are rather splendid.
TBBB: You’re welcome. So what happened then?
TBBB: Firstly I met up with a fellow book peep, and Instagram buddy, Richard Stone. (you can find his Instagram here). A very pleasant chap he was too. But then I quickly dumped him (sorry Richard) when I spied Karen Sullivan on her own (don’t fret Richard fans, I did catch up with him again later).
TBBB: Karen Sullivan? The Karen Sullivan? Mama Hen, the Grand Fromage, Proprietor, publisher and all round magnificent woman of Orenda Books?
TBBB: Yes, yes that’s her.
TBBB: Do you have a photo to commemorate this momentous occasion?
TBBB: Seriously? You really need to up your photo game, Beardy.
TBBB: Yeah, yeah, but I have the memories. Those are more precious than any photograph.
TBBB: Oh shut up! Right, so how did that go?
TBBB: I said “hello” and she looked at me and said, “I know you…”.
TBBB: *gasps* EXCITING! Nnnnngggggggg…..
TBBB: TOTES exciting. There was an awkward pause of about a nanosecond – the loooooongest nanosecond of, like, my life – before the beardy penny dropped and she recognised me. There were hugs. It was like greeting an old friend.
TBBB: Cor, I bet that pause was a tense moment?
TBBB: Not really. I may have exaggerated the pause. It was a femtosecond at best.
TBBB: There was a little bit of a “shit, she just thinks I’m a weirdo who is gurning at her like a weirdo” moment, but it was over in a flash.
TBBB: Hurrah. So what is she like? Is she as nice as everyone says she is?
TBBB: Hell yeah!!!
TBBB/TBBB: *HIGH FIVE*
TBBB: She was totes amaze beans. She was so, SO lovely. I am usually pretty awkward when meeting people for the first time, but I was totally at ease speaking to Karen and she was genuinely chuffed to meet me, which was really lovely. That’s too many ‘lovelies’ there, but I don’t care.
TBBB: What did you talk about?
TBBB: She said how much she enjoyed my reviews, that they were really funny and she loved the blog.
TBBB: Niiiicce. Awh, that was really nice of her to say.
TBBB: It was, and genuine. Then we chatted about books. I said how hard it is to find Orenda titles outside London, at least where I live. She did use some big bookish business words like “core stock”, shit that went over my head, but I nodded and “hmm-hmmm-ed” in all the right places, I hope – at least she didn’t notice 😉 We talked about the distribution deal with Simon and Shuster UK and how that should make a big difference to her titles appearing more widely. I am dead chuffed for her about this deal, so I really hope it brings Orenda titles to a wider audience across the UK. We also talked about Matt Wesolowski and his fantastic books, Hydra and Six Stories (you can read my Hydra review here), how great Orenda book covers are – and how great Mark Swan aka Kid Ethic is at designing them – why the cover for Louise Beech‘s upcoming The Lion Tamer Who Lost has changed, plus other assorted other shizz. AND she gave me books. See:
TBBB: Superb stuff. That was very kind of her. We’ve been wanting to read The Old You and Fault Lines, haven’t I?
TBBB: I have.
TBBB: Hurrah. And that Overkill cover is the nuts.
TBBB: Innit tho? OOh, and she gave me wine. Red wine. And the legendary…
TBBB: Not the legendary Orenda cupcakes???
TBBB: YES!! They had little teeny books on them and they were lush! BEHOLD…
TBBB: Awwwww, they’re so cute! So, what happened after that then?
TBBB: I think I may have burped a little and licked my lips.
TBBB: I meant…oh, just get on with it!
TBBB: Well, then….Steph Broadribb (also known as Stephanie Marland. I’m not sure which is her actual name. I forgot to ask her, like the plum I am), came up to Karen to ask her something.
TBBB: Ooh, really? Did she recognise you?
TBBB: She did!! She looked at me and said, “Are you Mart?”
TBBB: ARGGHHHHHHH!! What did you say? Were you excited? Please don’t tell me you wet yourself again?
TBBB: I….Hey, I didn’t wet myself that time. I told you, it was the hand dryer in the toilets that blew water onto my crotch area that made it appear that I wet myself. Why do you always tell people that?
TBBB: Whatev’s. Hand dryer, shmand dryer, what did you say?
TBBB: You’re mean. Well, I said, “yes”, of course. Then she ran away.
TBBB: Eh? She actually ran away from you? *thinks* fair enough, I probably would’ve too.
TBBB: Well, she didn’t exactly run, but she did walk fast, back to sign her books whilst I chatted to Karen a bit longer. I didn’t take it personally, even if it was a bit quick after I said “yes”. I joke, of course. I got her later. I literally cornered her. In a corner.
TBBB: Ah, you know how to corner a lady.
TBBB: I do. It’s a gift. It’s the only way to stop them running away, sadly.
TBBB: And they do like to run, huh?
TBBB: *sigh* they do.
TBBB: Tell me more! C’mon, spill…
TBBB: Well, Karen, understandably, got chatting to someone else – basically they stole her from me under the pretence of wanting more wine – the oldest trick in the book – so I made my move over to Steph who was at the signing table with Johana. As you can imagine, this was a popular area and was quite busy. I thought I spied an opening as she was chatting to another couple and it looked like they might be finishing up.
TBBB: What did you do? Did you walk up confidently, hand outstretched, and say, “Hi Steph. I love your books, may have a moment of your time to talk to you about them?”
TBBB: Not quite. I walked over casually like – nonchalant, even – realised that the conversation wasn’t finishing up, and so I waited next to the bookcase and nonchalantly – my nonchalance game was strong that night – leaned against it like that was my plan all along. It was flawless.
TBBB: Awkward much? So, did you go and speak to Johana instead?
TBBB: No, she was even busier at the time. I just thought I’d wait it out.
TBBB: How long were you standing there like a plum for?
TBBB: About 5 minutes. It got a bit awkward after a while. I started to pretend to read the book spines on the shelves like I was totally interested. Then, then, when the couple did finally leave, like, another woman walks straight up and takes my place. The nerve of her. Like I was totally, obviously, waiting. It was my turn, damn her….
TBBB: Maybe, and I’m just putting this out there, but maybe you were a tad too slow off the mark, feigning your nonchalance like a wally, and this other person just didn’t see you and saw her moment?
TBBB: Well, yes, there is that, but….shut up! She pushed in *pouts*
TBBB: Ok, let’s cut to the chase here. Did you get to speak to Steph, or did you stand about like a fanny all night?
TBBB: Oh, I got her! I mean, I spoke to her.
TBBB: Thank Christ for that! And what was she like after all that? And try to use another word besides ‘lovely’.
TBBB: Oh, she was lovel…she was amazing. She is slightly taller than me, which was rude, but besides that she was wonderful. She was very friendly, easy to talk to and gorgeous.
TBBB: How gorgeous?
TBBB: Phwoar levels of gorgeous. But then I knew she would be, of course.
TBBB: Ok, ok, calm down. You don’t want to freak the poor girl out should you ever meet her again. Or worse, get a restraining order. So, did you get a photo of this meeting?
TBBB: I DID ACTUALLY *pokes tongue out* so stick that in your pipe and call it Simon. BEHOLD…AGAIN…
TBBB: Blimey, that’s a great photo. And Steph doesn’t look too scared at all. Good work Beardy.
TBBB: Thank you. There are some more:
TBBB: What in the name of fuck are you up to there? Is that your Stan Laurel face?
TBBB: Ummm, it might be.
TBBB: Because Steph asked me if we were going to be pulling funny faces, like the ‘out-takes’ I put up on my Twitter and Instagram, so I did. Always happy to oblige making a tit out of myself.
TBBB: Well, it is your default setting.
TBBB: Indeed. Here’s one more for now:
TBBB: For the love of…. and what do you mean “for now”?
TBBB: Yeah, there’s more, but I’ll save those…for now.
TBBB: Ohhkaaaay, So, apart from scaring Steph, what else did you talk about?
TBBB: Oh, this and that. She may have confidentially revealed the title of the 3rd Lori Anderson book, and NO I’m not going to say it here. I swore an oath of confidentiality and I will not break it!
TBBB: You’ve forgotten it, haven’t you!
TBBB: Fuck’s sake.
TBBB: But at least that means that I can’t give it away accidentally, so, I win, kinda. It did have “Deep” in there somewhere *winks*
TBBB: Excuse me as I try to contain my surprise there.
TBBB: Alright, no need to be like that. OOOH, she also said she loved my blog too. She said it was really funny and my reviews were great. That is two people now who like it. We must be doing something right, eh? She also said that she had completed the second in the Starke and Bell series (my review of their first escapade, My Little Eye, is here), but didn’t reveal the title. Then we just chatted until I decided to release her to talk to other people.
TBBB: That was very kind of you *rolls eyes*. Ok, so then what happened? Did you speak to Johana Gustawsson, author of Keeper? We loved Keeper.
TBBB: Yes I did. I made a bee-line straight for her after Steph had escaped, left, after Steph had left.
TBBB: Did you corner her too?
TBBB: Nooooo, there was no need to – Johana was SO pleased to see me. She knew me straight away and threw her arms around me.
TBBB: What, like in a hug? Are you sure she wasn’t trying to taser you?
TBBB: No, bloody cheek, it was a proper-happy-to-meet-me-hug, oh yes *happy face*. She was brilliant. So, so friendly and excited. This was a new experience for me.
TBBB: You didn’t get a hug from Steph I noticed.
TBBB: Maybe she was too frightened to get too close to you?
TBBB: No, I don’t think that at all actually thank you very much. Johana is just a different kind of greeter. She is French after all and the French do like a hug. No taser required.
TBBB: You keep telling yourself that. Anyway, what did you talk about then?
TBBB: Wait – photo time first:
TBBB: Ooh, you have a little nipple action going on there Mart. Was it cold *sniggers*
TBBB: What? Where? Oh that? Er, that is a crease in my tee shirt that just happens to be exactly where my, um, nipple, is. Pure coincidence. Anyway, Johana was such a joy to talk to. She remarked on how much she loved my Keeper review and how she was laughing so much whilst reading it in the queue for the baggage at the airport that someone behind her asked what she was finding so funny.
TBBB: Awh, that was nice.
TBBB: It really was. We also had a good old chat about the levels of filth in Keeper. That was fun.
TBBB: Oh yes. If I may, let me quote from your review: “Aside from being a story of horrific brutality and historic murder and abuse, Keeper is also surprisingly filthy. Yes, that’s right, you did read me correctly: filthy. There is some proper sexy time in here (cue cheap 80s porn movie music *boom chacka wow wow*. I’m guessing here, obviously. Is it getting warm in here? It feels like it’s getting warm in here. Oh look, a badger wrestling a shrew…*runs away*). I’m telling ya, after reading some passages I felt like I needed a cold shower and a cigarette. And I don’t smoke. Or take cold showers. You may want to ask for this book to be given to you in a plain brown paper bag if you buy it at a physical bookshop. #justsaying”.
TBBB: Oh she loved that. The first thing she pretty much said was how much she laughed at the ‘horny’ comments (see the photo caption in the review). I remarked about how people who know you must look at you differently after reading that; how they must wonder how much is ‘you’ and how much is made up. It was a fun conversation. We talked a little about her next book, the 3rd Roy and Castells, but nothing specific. I don’t want to know anyway as I like to be kept int the dark. We also spoke about how much fun Newcastle Noir was (for her that is, I wasn’t there sadly), Matt Wesolowski (Karen was also singing his praises, as was I), and about how brilliant the brilliant Louise Beech is (you can see what I think about Louise and her books here. Be Warned: much gushing lies within 😉 ). I have yet to meet Louise, and the way that Johana talked about her, with such affection and genuine love, means that I am even more fed up about that than I was before.
I also met fellow blogger, and awesome person, Victoria Goldman, aka Vicky, aka Off The Shelf Books (see her blog here and follow her on Twitter here. Go on, she’s fab!). She brought with her toffee vodka that got Johana very excited. It was surprisingly nice actually. The vodka that is, not a very excited Johana!
TBBB: It sounded like a great evening.
TBBB: It really, really was. Everyone was so genuinely nice and very welcoming. I very often avoid going to these sorts of things as I don’t know anyone (beyond Twitter/IG/etc), and get a little anxious in social situations; will anyone recognise me and will they even care anyway? But here, from the moment I arrived, I didn’t feel remotely out of place. Seeing Richard was a good start as he is very friendly and easy to speak to, and as soon as I spoke to Karen I knew everything was ok.
Here, have a couple more photos:
TBBB: That’s fantastic stuff. You do like to worry about stuff, don’t you? and there’s usually nothing to worry about at all.
TBBB: Yeah, I do overthink things and I miss out as a result. This was a truly memorable night and I was on a high all the way home. I trundled along to the pub afterwards, I even carried the wine cooler for Karen, and even that didn’t feel awkward, even though everyone else knew everyone else and I knew no-one – besides Karen, Steph, Johana and Vicky. Ooh, I also met Susi Holliday, author and all round fun person. We discussed her role as Steph’s body guard, drink holder and her ’emergency knives’. I liked Susi. I shall be buying and reading her books toot sweet.
TBBB: It’s spelt tout de suite, or tout suite, dumb ass.
TBBB: Is it? That doesn’t look right at all. Maybe it’s foreign?
TBBB: *sigh* yes, it is. Never mind. So, what are you going to do with your signed books then?
TBBB: My what now?
TBBB: PLEASE tell me that you took your books along to get signed? Or at least bought them there and GOT THEM SIGNED?!?!?!?
TBBB: Oooooh, is that the time? Goodness gracious me, I have a, er, a boat to catch? A bus, I have a bus to catch. Look, here it comes now…running to get it….it really is the very last bus I can possibly get…sorry…I’ll catch me later…byeeeeeeeee!
TBBB: And there I go. What a dick. So, the Orenda Books launch was an overriding success. A truly memorable and fantastic evening. There was no police involved and Steph did not – yet – get a restraining order against him/me/us/I. There’s always next time 😉
My hugerist thanks to Karen, Steph and Johana. You can buy their brilliant books at the links below.
TBBB: So, until next time, farewell and peace and book love to all. X