Friday, 25 July 2008

Not So Eager For Deaver

A hot stinking lunch break and the smell of grease defies gravity, rising from the Greek burger bar below the production offices here in the heart of the M1 postal district. It’s now that I make my move after a difficult morning working on ‘Eye of the Storm’. I’ve been ad libbing a voiceover for a thunderstorm; not an easy thing to do with that fork lightening which is so tricky to scan. It’s a relief to be making the ten minute dash into the centre of the city, all the time talking with Judy on the mobile. She’s at home, sitting with a bag of frozen king prawns wrapped around her swollen knee. She promises that they’ll be defrosted in time for tonight’s risotto. I can hardly wait.

W.H. Smiths is my target and the book signing is by Jeffrey Deaver, thriller writer and the man who took away Denzel Washington’s legs and made Angelina Jolie look sexy poking rat droppings in forensics gear. In my weaker moments, I can easily give in and pick up a hack-and-slash psychological thriller and Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme books were always a good read. That was until the last two which I thought were a matter of an author growing jaded with his characters, his storylines tired, a publisher demanding more of the same with the promise of a fat pay cheque. I swore that I wouldn’t buy another Deaver. I didn’t want to prolong the poor man’s misery.

It’s why I was thankful that the queue outside the shop was as off-putting as the Minotaurs disguised as security guards standing in the doorway. Beyond them was a wall of hardbacks, either the edge of King Minos’s labyrinth or the blunt end of the publisher’s mantra: pile them high, sell them cheap (unless the author’s in the store and then it’s RRP only). This would have been my first book signing had I not been offended by the very thought of waiting in line for a scribbled signature from the demonic man being photographed at the front of the store.

I think it was the beard that did it. As you know, I distrust men with beards and I distrust men with neatly trimmed beards even more. When he finally arrived, Deaver was nothing like the clean shaved guy on the dust jackets. He now looks every inch the professional writer; a depressing artifice of the publicist’s art, the nationwide book tour, the promotional interview. His clipped black beard looks like it could pen a few novels on its own. Everyone a best seller. Million pound movie rights.

The queue seem excited. I felt deflated and ready for lunch. But these were ‘real’ readers and I took a moment to take them in. It was sobering to see that they look just like me even without my disguise, my cheap black beret, my comedy pimple. In the end, it was all I could do to turn my back and head back to the office. Disillusioned, disappointed, hugely jealous. At moments like this, asking an author to sign a book feels so horribly dispiriting. I even forgot to take a photo.


Anonymous said...

One day that will be you surrounded by huge burly men. And you will feel profoundly uncomfortable.

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