My publisher set up a reading for me on July 6 at one of Wichita’s iconic bookstores, Watermark Books. Excited? Hell yes, I was. Even though I’d read before, and even though I’d read in Wichita before, this felt to me like the big time. A fulfillmebnt of the “local author makes good” trope. And wow, was I nervous. People were going to be there! People I knew! Let me tell you, reading in front of a bunch of strangers,somehow, is less nerve wracking than reading in front people you know.
As you may imagine, I was keyed up. Butterflies. Worried about everything. My boss kindly let me leave work early so that I could run home and change into jeans (I’d meant to take them with me to work, but of course forgot). And about five minutes before I left work, the rain started.
The rain did not let up. The rain worsened. Even on my short drive home, streets in town started flooding. It was a deluge. A goose drownder. A turd floater. I think we got maybe 2 inches in 20 minutes. And it kept on. I girded up my loins and made it to the bookstore, both dismayed and chuckling–I mean, what can you do but laugh? I’d be reading to, what, maybe three people? Well, at least folks would know that I wasn’t going to hang them out to–ahem–dry.
Even more amusing, one of my friends who did make it told me that some asphalt chunks from who-knows-where had come floating down the road to litter one of the cross streets. Another cross street was blocked by emergency vehicles due to flooding beyond that point.
Something really, really didn’t want people coming to my reading.
People showed up, though. The determined, the waterlogged–ultimately there were maybe about ten? attendees. Definitely not my worst turnout. (That would go to the one where there were four people attending, and one was my agent, bless his heart.) Some of them were determined friends, some of them were people who had been delayed by the rain and thought ‘what the hell;’ some of them were people who had read about it from the piece in the Wichita Eagle, and one couple showed up because they’d met my dad while they and he were visiting relatives at Cypress Springs Alzheimer’s residence. (That was pretty special, and a lovely connection to the inspirations of my past.)
I read from two sections in Archangel–I answered questions and I asked questions. It’s a blast to turn Q&A time around and interrogate the audience. That moment of connection, of reaching out and putting a fingertip on someone’s regard is electric to me. Both before and afterwards I signed copies.
That’s a dream come true, you know? To be able to say “I signed copies of my book….”