I won’t be able to make any of your readings over the next two weeks, but I was wondering. How do you get ready for something like that? I’ve done a little public speaking in the past, and it terrifies me. I can’t help but think that it must be a million times worse if you’re reading your own stuff to a huge roomful of people.
So that’s my question. What does an author do to get ready for a public reading?
Best of luck on your trip.
The truth is Dan, I’ve wondered the same thing myself.
I mean, I know how *I* get ready for a reading. But I wonder what other authors go through when they’re getting ready.
A lot of authors I’ve talked to admit to having public speaking jitters. Some of them downright hate it. But that’s not a problem for me. Public speaking is old hat. I’ve done commencement addresses, sermons, lectures, and more panels than you can shake a stick at.
Plus I used to do improv comedy. And let me tell you, after you’ve done improv comedy, no other type of public speaking will ever scare you. It’s like a trial by fire.
In general, I imagine other authors think about regular things before a signing tour. They worry about who’s going to show up, or what they’re going to read. Maybe they dither over what sort of shirt they’re going to wear.
Me, I worry about my hair.
At least that’s what I’ve been doing for the last several days. I’m about to leave on a little signing tour, 8 readings in 9 days. I’m looking forward to it, and I’m looking forward to seeing who shows up.
The problem is, I haven’t had a haircut in about 8 months. It’s something that never occurs to me until I have to make a public appearance. Normally every 3-4 months I’m forced to brush up against the edges of civilization. I go to a convention, or a wedding, or something, and so I get a haircut to clean myself up for that.
But lately I’ve been so busy with revisions and the new baby that I haven’t done any of those things. And that means almost a whole year without a haircut. That means that I look like a cross between a hobo, John the Baptist come out of the desert, and a particularly shaggy Muppet. I look, in fact, like one of those green men statues. Except not green.
Normally I’m fine with this. But when I make public appearances I feel bad showing up looking all wodwo. I feel like if people show up to see me, I should try to groom myself down to the point where I won’t frighten small children.
But here’s the problem. This week when I tried to make an appointment for a haircut with the only person I trust to cut my hair and beard… but she couldn’t fit me in to her schedule. And I can’t trust some random barber. Last time I did that the fucker sheared me like a fucking sheep.
So now, the day before I drive off to do my signings, I’m faced with an awful choice. Show up looking like the crazy guy at the bus station, or risk a haircut that would make a prison barber wince. I still haven’t decided…
The other thing that I think about before I go on a trip like this is what I’m going to listen to in the car. I’ve become a sucker for audiobooks lately, and this trip is going to put me behind the wheel for almost 40 hours.
So I’ve got a return question for some of you out there. Do you have any good audiobooks to recommend? I’ve already listened to everything by David Sedaris, Neil Gaiman, and Garrison Keillor.
Here. I’ll start things out with a recommendation or two of my own.
The BBC dramatization of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
These BBC audio productions of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy are really great. What’s even better is that they contain different materials than the original books. That means even if you know your the source material inside and out, you can still be pleasantly surprised.
The later ones weren’t done my Adams himself. But I have to say (and this is something that you will probably never *ever* hear me say again) I liked the ending of the final audiobook better than I like the ending of Adam’s original novel.
I know. Blasphemy.
Anyway. Trust me. These are brilliant. Share and enjoy.
Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde.
I listened to this just recently, and I was absolutely blown away by it.
That said, I don’t know how I’d describe the entirety of it to someone.
It’s funny without being goofy. It’s clever without being pretentious. It’s original without being desperate. And it has an element of what I consider the divine ridiculousness: a delightful, subtle, strangeness that is funny while still touching on some underlying truth.
I feel like I should say more about it, but I can’t think of what else to say. Except, perhaps, that it’s probably the best book I’ve read in a year or so. And Sarah really liked it too, if that sways you at all…
So what about you guys? Do y’all have any good audiobooks that you can recommend? I’m going to need a few more before I’m done with this trip….
P.S. I’m asking for audiobooks, mind you. Don’t recommend a book that you liked and you’re thinking *would* make a good audiobook. The narrator makes a huge difference in these things, so don’t tell me it’s good if you haven’t listened to it yourself.