Why do a book tour? (link to excerpt at https://geoffnelder.com/sample-xaghras-revenge/)
It was inevitable. I’d written a historical fantasy set in the Maltese islands. We go there for a holiday every few years so as sure as sand + cement = mortar, this year’s holiday had to involve the nervous energy involved in public appearances.
It was made easier because the Preluna Hotel & Spa in Sliema, Malta offered to host a book signing. Aren’t they nice? Their Marketing Manager, Mandy, said that since I’d stayed at their hotel while researching XAGHRA’S REVENGE and wrote some of it there, they’d be honoured to arrange a signing. They released a notice in their newsletter and created a poster. Information was posted on a facebook group Gozone (nice play on the name of Gozo, the island from which 5,000 souls were kidnapped by pirates in 1551 – the core of Xaghra’s Revenge), which led to invitations to other events. The Central Library on Gozo invited me to talk about the book to their book group and a local bookshop, Bargate Bookshop in Victoria, Gozo invited me to a book signing. In addition, a local poet-Miriam Calleja- invited me to a literary Salon meet (see below) one evening.
Besides the stage fright one always gets before a public appearance, two big problems loomed. How many books did I need to take to Malta? What to wear? You may laugh, but I usually pack two books to read and shorts and casual shirts – maybe not appropriate for a suave book event. Haha. I am under no illusions about quantities of books. I sum it up with a signing event I did at NewCon in Northampton years ago. I sat next to Ian M Banks – the science fiction writer (RIP). His queue wound around the room and out of the door. I had no queue, however, Ian was a gent and advised readers in his line to give my EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEE scifi novel a try. So, was ten books going to be enough in Malta? Yes, if it was just the signing at the hotel. So I arranged for the publisher, Solstice Publishing, to send ten to a friend in Malta. Then the other invites came in so I took ten more in my baggage. Even that wasn’t enough. I ran out of books at Bargate Bookshop and had to disappoint people who turned up. Luckily, the shop owner kindly offered to stock and sell them. Yeay.
It’s charming bookstore selling everything the local community needs to help their kids through school and college and for local readers. As I sat there I was reminded of a reading I did in Carlisle for my humorous thriller, ESCAPING REALITY. A couple of young mums came through the doorway and aimed straight at me. Good – I poised my pen. One said to me, “’Scuse, love, can you shift? You’re in front of Spot the Dog.”
I put my EU size 43 foot in it with one elegant lady, who’d asked which fiction I’d read about C16th Malta before writing Xaghra’s Revenge. I rattled off a few titles then added, “But they hardly refer to the Gozo abduction and when they do, focus on the rich, the nobility and the knights. My book takes a couple of ordinary folk and follow the extraordinary events that happen to them.”
“That’s good,” she said, “But my partner is a Knight of the Order of Saint John.” Oops, but she still bought a copy.
Of the events I suppose the Salon evening was the most intellectual and frequently bursting with laughter. Salons were originally in women’s homes, centuries ago when female writers and artists struggled to gain recognition. They were evenings of music, poetry, discussions, art and stories. This one was organised by Miriam Calleja on a theme of Anemoia: nostalgia for a time you’ve never experienced. Appropriately, the venue was Marpesia & Co in San Gwann, Malta a new jewellery shop – exquisite yet not expensive pieces made by the owner. I heard meaningful poetry read, stories told and they listened to my Chapter 23, an excerpt where two slaves discuss their fate and draw metaphorical conclusions from watching a beetle in the sand. Link to the excerpt I read to both the Central Library on Gozo and to the Salon event in San Gwann can be read here.
I described the sun as a setting pomegranate – ironic because Miriam’s poetry volume is Pomegranate Heart. Link here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pomegranate-Heart-Poetry-Miriam-Calleja-ebook/dp/B01AT478JM/
Miriam’s piece in The Times of Malta about Xaghra’s Revenge
In spite of the stage fright I am very glad I did the book tour. Through it I met more real Maltese people and spoke with readers.
Latest review of Xaghra’s Revenge is humbling for me coming from the literary reviewer and poet, Magdalena Ball. Read it here.
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