I love to read – that kind of goes without saying but, there I’ve said it anyway.
But I also love to meet authors, to hear them talk about their work and to have them sign their books to me.
Maybe it’s in someway a hope that some of whatever magic formula they possess will transfer itself to my own writing somehow.
All around my writing desk are framed copies of what authors have written by way of encouragement to me to get on with my own books, Ian Rankin, John Connolly, Mark Billingham, John Harvey to name but a few.
It’s John Harvey’s comment that takes pride of place; written around his own title page it reads ‘Okay Keith, remember NOW’S THE TIME ! – Don’t waste it !!’.
The one from Stuart Macbride that says ‘To Keith – Grow the rest of the beard’ is placed a little further away from my line of sight, as is his one from 3am in the bar at Harrogate last year which features an illustration of a ghost and the words ‘Aaarrgghh VIAGRA!’ – no, me neither.
I cannot remember which was my first signing event but I suspect it may well have been one at Forbidden Planet to get Clive Barker to sign books for me. Meeting him several times were certainly some of the most memorable signings – particularly for the launch of his movie Nightbreed and all of his novels close to that launch. It was held at the Café Munchen at the rear of where the London FP used to be based. I went early with a bunch of friends and queued for ages clutching a brand new leather briefcase full of his books. The case was a gift from my godparents (thinking I’d need it for an office job one day) – my friends just mocked and made comment that I might as well get Barker to sign it as it contained all his books.
So, when my turn came, I did exactly that and, after he cracked a few jokes about doing a Nightbreed luggage deal with Samsonite, he kindly signed and illustrated the front of the briefcase with a unique monster head image – truly a one of a kind item now and a prize possession.
But whether it was Stephen King or James Ellroy at the Royal Festival Hall, the countless list of great names each year at Harrogate, Reading and the Crimefest events, or individual author events at bookstores, I have treasured the memories of each and every one of them, and the signed books I have left with.
There have been times where I’ve missed out on more good stuff after an event – leaving early only to find that John Connolly took a whole group of fans out for dinner and drinks for his 40th birthday after an event was one such regret.
But, I have never come away from one feeling anything other than even greater respect for the authors that I read and their books that I love.
If all you do is read your favourite authors, you are really only getting some of the story.
To get all of it, you really should get out there and meet them.