With Word on the Street coming up next weekend, I have been thinking about the amount of time I have spent standing in front of people. I was never really a 'shy' guy, but I didn't seek out the stage or the front of the classroom when I was younger. Actually, I liked to send pot shots from the third row in classrooms.
There's every possibility that some teachers would recall me as the class clown.
I think the main reason for this was that school was kind of boring.
Anyway. The standing in front of people probably begins back in grade 7 or 8 when I went to the provincial finals of a speaking competition. I remember the kid who won. His talk was about fishing with his grandfather and he kept holding his hand to his brow and shouting 'LAND HO' like his grandfather had. My speech was about the difficulties of being a kid. I had no specific catch phrases which is why I lost.
In high school I was in a band (THE SEMANTICS!). We played a lot of shows, but that was standing on a stage with four other guys. Plus, our singer was, apparently, eye candy so I wasn't being gawked at that much.
I did a few gigs as a DJ where I was on a stage as well, but most of that career really took place behind little glass walls where you could generally ignore and be ignored.
So it was strange when I began teaching. I wasn't prepared to speak in front of people those first couple of years. I had a chance encounter with a student of mine from 2001, my second year at the college. He thought the class was great, but then we'd both been drinking and his memory was likely fuzzy.
Since then I have stood before a lot of people at conferences, in schools, even virtually, and I've grown to if not enjoy it, at least appreciate what is happening.
At Ease, my Limelights book coming from Orca in October covers this territory fairly well. I've spent a lot of time over the years trying to figure out how to control nerves and anxiety. It lessens over time, but that doesn't help anyone who is getting up on stage for the first or second time. I hope it reaches those readers who will find some comfort in speaking to others.
The reviews are in for Set You Free and so far I am very very happy with them. A line like this (Well-developed characters, an original plot, and a thrilling story line make this book impossible to put down. This page-turner is a must read for teens who enjoy mystery...An extremely well written crime thriller that asks the question 'How well do you really know anyone?'" (School Library Journal 2015-10-01)) will make my morning, if not the whole day. We might be able to stretch that out until the end of the week if nothing weird happens.
So, this fall should be..... ok. I mean, it's going to get cold and the amount of time skateboarding will certainly drop, but launching new books will be fun. As will standing on a stage now and then. So, see you in Toronto at Word on the Street (September 27) if you happen to be in Toronto and want to watch a guy standing on a stage talking about a mystery he dreamed up in his shed.