The Brent Weeks Book Signing

So, yesterday was a writing bust. But, I did get a bit of work done on the Book Club, which is good. Also, I read a ton yesterday. Over 100 pages, while I munched on a burrito from Chipotle. Today, I’ve left the book behind, in the hope that I’ll get some work done if Kvothe isn’t taunting me.

Also, I have to admit that I hit a wall. I wasn’t sure what Jordinn was really going to do next, or how to get him through the scene to move on to the point of the chapter. But, last night, at work, I had an epiphany. I’m ready today. I know what happens next. And I’m pretty excited to write.

I realized, as I thought about what I would blog about today, that I never mentioned how the Brent Weeks signing went.

I very nearly talked myself out of it.

I had time to kill, so I ate Five Guys and read on their patio, the bookstore looming over my shoulder. I’d planned on buying the second book in the Lightbringer series, in show of support for both the author and the Indie bookstore that brought him to Salem. So, I walked the familiar shelves, hunting for the right copy.
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Which they didn’t have. The only copy they had was a $17 trade paperback, and since I have the first book in Mass Paperback, I can’t buy a different printing. It’s wrong.

That was the moment that I walked back out to my car, and put the key in the ignition. I didn’t know anyone who was going to the signing, and no one was going with me. I was alone in a bookstore, waiting anxiously for someone to be friendly, or acknowledge me.

Instead, I’d made small talk with a girl, and found her a very haughty cosplayer. This is the hard part about book signings. There are two types of people that go to Fantasy book signings. There are your average readers, who are quiet and keep to themselves. They wear plain clothes, t-shirts, cargo shorts, and blend in.

And then there are the weird ones. The ones who are completely immersed in the ‘nerd’ counter-culture. They’re typically chatty, to the point of obnoxiousness. They engage others of their kind, and they usually partake in pretentious conversation and debates about Fantasy authors and how much they’ve read, or who they’ve seen.

One of these types boasted that he drove to Seattle to see Patrick Rothfuss. He drove up, attended the signing, and then drove back to Salem. That’s an eight hour round trip.

Now, Rothfuss is awesome. No doubt. But, to me, it’s a little unreasonable to go to all that trouble, when he’ll probably make a stop in Portland anyway.

Anyway, before any of this happened, I was sitting in my car, planning to go home and save myself the misery of batting off these ‘nerds’ with a stick. But, as I texted Trevor to see what his plans were, he already had his evening booked with a friend. And he encouraged me to stay, promising that I would have a good time.

So, I stayed. And you know what? I had a really great time.

Yes, I met the cosplay girl, and, while friendly, she was a bit uppity. We chatted briefly, but I was relieved when we sat a row apart. I nodded a ‘hello’ to a familiar face from Escape Fiction. I think she’s one of the owners, but she’s usually behind the counter, and always chatty about what book I’ve bought. But, she also is a touch weird, and looks like she’s probably done a little too much meth.

Not an uncommon look in Salem.

There were a few friendly faces. The quiet, ‘normal’ ones. We acknowledge each other, but we don’t engage. I’m good with that. And so I sat, with my lap-full of Brent’s books, waiting for the show to get on the proverbial road.
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I didn’t know what to expect. I’d only read half of Week’s first book, ‘The Way of Shadows’. I’d liked it, but I was reading it when we moved to Oregon, and life was a bit hectic then. I never finished it, but I purchased the rest of the Night Angel Trilogy, and the first book of the Lightbringer series, ‘The Black Prism’.

What I didn’t expect was Brent’s great sense of humor. He’s a large guy, in a teddy bear kind of way, and he reminds me a lot of my first Starbucks manager. And that’s a really good thing. Now, this is an author who creates concrete magic systems in completely new worlds, like Sanderson, but his writing style is very different. Weeks comes off as almost irreverent. His writing is quick paced, the learning curve for his magic is extreme, and his characters are bold and mouthy.

I like it.

And now that I’ve met him, I get it.

So, he introduces himself, the book he’s promoting, and overall is very warm, genuine, and happy to be there. He mentions that, most authors do a reading, usually from the book they’re promoting. But, he wasn’t going to do that. He’d come up with something better.

He took the characters from the Night Angel Trilogy, created a basic plot, and wrote his own Choose Your Own Adventure story. And by show of hands, the thirty or so of us present, decided our fate.

It was brilliant! It was engaging. He did voices for the characters, and mocked us when our decisions had less than ideal consequences, which was often. He even made a great joke at Salem’s expense, and we all booed him, good-naturedly, of course.

By the end of his ‘reading’ I was all smiles. If the event had ended there, if he’d packed up and said, “Smell ya later Salem!’, I would still be glad I went. But, there was a raffle for t-shirts, and then a Q&A. And then he sat down to get to signing.
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A friend of his manned photo duty, while his wife, who is lovely, took the books, and set them on the table for him. As seems to be the book signing custom, I sat, we said hello, and I introduced myself. He asked if I had any questions, and I said ‘no’.

In my defense, I hadn’t read enough of his work to have a good question, so I opted for no question at all. The ‘photographer’ was baffled at this. He looked at me and said, “I’ve got like five, if you want to ask him one. He won’t answer them for me!”

We laughed, and I said, “Well he won’t answer them now! He knows they’re from you.” Brent laughed. “Seriously, dude,” I continued. “Talk about missed opportunity. I was standing right over there!” I pointed to the line. Brent laughed more, and I smiled big.

And the above photo is the result. So, imagine my smile when I tweeted these photos, and he favorited them.

So, yes, I had a great time. And yes, I want to read more of his books. Author events attract a weird mix of people, but generally, we’re all well-intentioned. We just want our two minutes of exposure. Our small moment with someone we admire.

Now, if only I can be half as witty the next time Brandon Sanderson comes through…

All right, I’m off to get some work done. Wish me luck!

BZ

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