What's enough to scare the pants off a writer about to do a reading? For one thing, being billed on a Monday night when no one goes out, for another being scheduled for the start of a festival before the whole thing has built up (and with a shorter festival period for publicity opportunities), and finally having a group of real-life scientsts turn up to hear you talk about the theme of science (and magic) in your work.
Well, all three conditions were in place last night, so you can guess how nervous I was altogether. But goddamit, something magical did actually happen: people showed up, and every seat in the room was taken, as you can see from the pic above (I couldn't get everyone in as the circle went behind me)! And the scientists were more than positive: they said that they felt I'd hit on some really important issues about science in my writing, in particular in The Birth Machine, which is now reissued by Salt. It's a long time since the book was first published but the scientists said that the issues are extremely current. After my reading there was a very lively discussion, as the pic shows, and I think nearly every person in the room contributed.
So it turned out to be a really good evening, and this was in no small part due to the ambiance of the venue, the beautiful Georgian house in which Judith and Bill Godfrey live and run the Manchester Language School, and to their wonderful attentiveness as hosts. They were so intent on setting out things exactly as I wanted it, and even troubled to light candles in the room where we served drinks. People kept turning up and saying, 'What a lovely house!', and so indeed it is, and I felt very lucky to have it as my festival venue. Thanks so much to Judith and Bill, and also to festival organiser Maria Stripling and all the other festival workers, and many thanks to everyone who came and contributed to such a lively night.
I'll be having two official launches for The Birth Machine re-issue, one in Manchester on Wednesday 27th October, 7 pm at Waterstone's Deansgate, and another in London on Wednesday November 10th 6.30 pm at Blackwell Charing Cross Road.