Call Myself a Writer?

September 24, 2010

Regenerations 2010 (and the launch of Paddytum)

What a weekend!  Seriously, it was amazing. It wasn’t without incident, but seriously, it was fun!

We, that is, Glyn (my husband and resident cover artist) the two kids, Paddytum (bear, book title and resident book stand) loaded up the car – well, Paddytum didn’t lift a finger paw, to be fair, and drove to Swansea on Friday evening,  arriving at the Premier Inn around 8pm.

We made our way to the Village Hotel, where we bumped into Tim Hirst, who showed us the area on the first floor where the Hirst Books crew would be hanging out for the next couple of days, but didn’t stay long, and went back to our hotel. A couple of swift pints in the bar, and then off to bed – early for me, but we had an early start next day.

Due to ‘awkward’ parking arrangements at our hotel (don’t ask), we decided that the best thing to do would be to drive down to the Village next day, leaving sixteen-year-old son to slumber in his pit,  leave the car in the Village hotel car park, and  then Glyn would walk back.  Simples.

Nobody was around yet in the Hirst Books corral, so Lucy and I went back downstairs for a quick coffee. Which was when I discovered I’d left my handbag in Glyn’s car.  Which was locked.  And in my bag was my mobile phone, my purse, and my special signing pen.  Leaving things behind is nothing new for me, but I knew I’d have to get Glyn back, and I knew he wouldn’t be best pleased, especially as it was a good fifteen minute’s walk back to the Premier Inn, and he was probably nearly there by now.  I made a sheepish phone call to Glyn’s mobile, via the reception desk, having to leave a message on his voicemail, which made me even more nervous in case he didn’t get it for ages.  About twenty minutes later, Glyn reappeared, my bag in his hand and a scowl on his face.  He got the message as he was putting the key card in the slot outside our room, apparently.  ‘I was cursing you, a bit,’ he said, ‘on the walk back.’   After cowed apologies, I sent him back Premier Inn-wards for the second time,  and Lucy and I went back upstairs.

Me, my bear, and my book.

I met some of my fellow Hirst Publishing/100 Publishing authors: Joe Wilson, author of Cemetery Drive, was there for the day, and Rob Hammond, Matt West and Ben Hammond, launching Auton.  Karen Louise Hayward, who was launching Un-Conventional was also there, as was Charlie Ross with his Smiles and Tribulations,  Ruth Wheeler with All Aliens Like Burgers, and Paul Castle, with the last remaining copies of his very popular Shooty Dog Thing.  Later, we were joined by Barnaby Eaton-Jones, with Lemon, and the hugely entertaining Darren Floyd, with Match Day.  More about Darren in a minute.  And of course, there was I, with my book.

The Auton Boys: Ben and Rob Hammond and Matt West.

I spotted a few Doctor Who luminaries throughout the day, including Anneke Wills, former DW companion, and the very first Hirst Books author, who was signing copies of her two volume autobiography, as well as launching the brand new Anneke Wills in Pictures.

Hirst Books at Regenerations 2010

Halfway through that first day, I realised I needed to be more proactive about selling Paddytum, a non-Who-related book, to people who were here because they were interested in, well… Doctor Who.  Lucy, very wise for her thirteen years, said, ‘People aren’t going to buy it just because you smile at them!’ But I didn’t see that I could say, ‘Buy my book; it’s very good.’  And then I saw that Darren Floyd was using exactly that approach!  Everyone who came to the table, he thrust his book towards them, and said, ‘Would you like to buy my book? It’s very good,’ spicing this pitch up with the occasional ‘It’s got a typo. And a gay sex scene.’

Darren Floyd and Ruth Wheeler

So, it was time to go one better, and I joined in, with ‘And mine’s amazing!’  I’d perfected my pitch by the end of Saturday, and took up my position on the other side of the table, and accosted as many as possible with a ‘You’d like to read my amazing book, wouldn’t you?’  I was gobsmacked when the vast majority said, ‘OK, tell me about it!’ so I did, and made a sale more often than I didn’t.  A few people enquired what my book had to do with Doctor Who, so I pointed out David Tennant’s hair on the cover picture.  One lady said ‘Well, that won’t sell it to me; I don’t like David Tennant!’ so I countered with, ‘You should be pleased then. Because of me he’s walking around bald now.’

The ebullient Andy Frankham, author of the forthcoming Seeker, joined in with the general book-plugging and hilarity, and in one moment of high comedy, pointed out, in turn, Joe’s book, mine, and Darren’s saying, ‘That‘s brilliant, this is amazing… and that one’s very good.’  Well, you had to be there, I guess…

We went out for an Indian meal that evening, bumping into Darren Floyd again, then rounded off the evening with a few more drinks at the Village, and a ‘Have I Got News for You’-type DW quiz, hosted by Charlie Ross.

On Sunday, it was back again for Day Two, and there was Colin Baker at our table, signing (and launching) Second Thoughts, along with his first book, Look Who’s Talking.  I’d brought along my copy for him to sign, and showed him Paddytum and told him all about it, and he said it sounded like the sort of thing he’d enjoy reading.  Not one to pass up an opportunity, I said, ‘Maybe I can sign one for you?’ (hint hint) Bad move.  ‘Oh, says Colin, ‘That’s very sweet of you!’ Well, I couldn’t exactly take back the offer, could I? And he’s a Timelord. I wasn’t going to argue.  Chalks up one copy given away. (I hope he reads it. He did promise to let me know what he thinks of it. Well, we shall see.)

Lucy with the Sixth Doctor

I carried on with my sales pitch from the day before, and sold a few copies, (rather than giving them away). I accidentally hit on a new angle, when I said to one guy, ‘Oh, you bought a copy yesterday, didn’t you?’ No,’ he said.  ‘Oh?  Why not?’  That worked, too.  So I did it again a couple of times.

THE David Warner (Legend), and me.

Another doctor. (as opposed to a Doctor) Matthew Chambers, Dr Daniel Granger from 'Doctors'

I grabbed a few celebs for photographs, but after my misfire with Colin Baker, I was reluctant to try and sell a book to any of them, in case the same thing happened.  That is, until Terry Molloy (Davros).  I took a couple of photographs of him with Lucy, and then we just got chatting, about this and that, and the subject, naturally, strayed to my reason for being at Regenerations.  Like Colin Baker, he said it sounded like something he’d enjoy, ‘a cool story!’ and said he’d definitely be back later to buy one, but he was just off for an autograph session.  Thinking this was a way of getting out of it, I thought, well, I won’t see him again.  So I was really pleased and touched when he made a beeline for me when he came out of the closing ceremony, picked up a copy of Paddytum, and took out his wallet.  Top guy, eh?  That was definitely the highlight of the whole thing for me.  Davros bought my book! Win!

Lucy with Davros. 'Daleks!'

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