What to do if characters come alive in the middle of your launch?

Posted on Sep 28, 2015 | 0 comments

Play along.

 

MorganReadingThe Kingston “pre-launch” of Bottle and Glass went about as well as I could have hoped.  We had a full house at the Queen’s Inn at 10PM on Friday, with everyone full of end-of-week exuberance.  There were plenty of bar snacks (healthy and unhealthy) and the beer taps flowed.  Leanne Lieberman gave a lovely introduction and  I took the stage to give some background on how I came to write the book.  I began to read a sample from the beginning of the book (for Ali:  “Chapter 1, Page 1″).

I’d no sooner got through the second sentence when a pair of young fishermen burst through the front doors.  Characters from my own novel.  They made a scene, elbowed their way through the crowd, and hid themselves on the other side of the bar.  They were followed closely by another character from Bottle and Glass, an objectionable fellow known only as Biscuit, who proceeded to threaten and interrogate me, as if I might be eligible for the press.

Was I rattled?  I confess I was.

The Queen’s Inn (est. 1839) is one of the oldest continuously operating inns in Canada.  If copper bar tops could talk, theirs would likely have many tales to tell.  With all the carousing and chatter, it seems we may have shaken some spirits from the limestone crannies.

I treated with Biscuit as squarely as I could.  I explained that it was a reading, that we were launching a book.  He seemed unimpressed.  Then, feigning confusion, I claimed they went “thataway”, out the side door.  Thankfully, he left.

The two young fishermen, Jeremy and Merit, emerged from their hiding places.  But they didn’t, with a grateful wave, melt back into the ancient mist whence they came.  They sat at the bar and ordered two pints.  They joined the rest of us.  And they suggested I read on.

What else could I do?

I read on.

I continued with some back story, a brief description of Jeremy and Merit and how they came to be at this tavern … where they shouldn’t have been! … hoping they might eventually get the hint and disappear.  It was uncomfortable.

But clearly they had no intention of leaving.   When I mentioned Merit’s penchant for gambling and that he’d just recently fashioned a pair of dice that couldn’t lose, he jumped from his bar stool.  He goaded one of the audience into a wager against his fixed dice and when he inevitably won, Merit and Jeremy hooted and hollered and danced their victory.  They never learn.

Their celebration alerted the pressmaster.    Biscuit summoned his superior, Captain Rowton.

At this point, mayhem.  I could no longer maintain the charade of a traditional book launch.  I receded into a corner and watched, with everyone else, as the story unfolded.

Jeremy remonstrated with the captain and pleaded their case, begging him to let them go.  The captain would have none of it.  After a sham knot tying demonstration, in which Merit got his knuckles repeatedly rapped, they gave up and signed the captain’s articles.  The captain had a round of rumbustion poured and we all toasted the King.  Rowton and Biscuit bundled their charges out of the Queen’s Inn, but not before disparaging the number and quality of sailors to be found in Kingston.

The crowd looked back to me.  What more could I say?  I decided it was time to wrap up.

I thanked Brett Christopher of Theatre Kingston and Paul Dyck, Patrick Downes, and Matt Hunt of Salon Theatre for all of their help.  I thanked Richard Mitchell of the Queen’s Inn for hosting the event.

In all the chaos, I forgot to mention to everyone to look for a full-length, site-specific dramatic adaptation of Bottle and Glass, to take place in the summer of 2016, moving from tavern to Kingston tavern – a sort of play-pub crawl.

I thanked everyone for coming.  Then to the bar, in search of a much needed restorative.


 

The scene was dark and chaotic.  It was difficult to get quality photos and video.  But here are a couple of clips of raw, unedited video, to give you some idea.

 

Book Launch Clip One:

 

Book Launch Clip Two:

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