Friday, May 16, 2008

John Connolly - A Top Bloke

Last night, I attended a book signing at Borders Oxford Street for John Connolly’s new book, The Reapers. From my readings of blogs and websites and after seeing him at Harrogate a few years ago, I knew him to be the type of author who is admired by his fans and respected by his peers. I had also read two of his books, Every Dead Thing and The Book of Lost Things, both very entertaining novels. When I saw posters advertising his bookstore appearance, I penned it in my diary to attend, expecting an entertaining hour of readings, questions and signings. What I got was a lot more.

Borders had set up a section on the first floor for about 20-30 people in front of a podium with a microphone and numerous stands displaying John Connolly’s books. John arrived and spent a good twenty minutes talking through aspects and elements of his new novel, The Reapers, in a quite informal, informative and entertaining fashion. The next 20 was taken up by Q&A. I really enjoyed it all and took away many good pointers about writing. John also talked about some of the elements contained in his new book, including male heterosexual relationships and what drives someone to kill. We were also treated to a reading from loose sheets of paper constituting an extract from Draft 1 of John’s novel in progress, The Lovers. All very good stuff.

As I was lining up to have my copy of The Reapers signed by John, he announced to the audience that if they were so inclined, we could all head to a local bar for a beer and a more informal chat. This sounded wonderful, a great chance to meet John and a handful of his many fans (including Sarah Higgins, a fellow Harrogate attendee and BTZ forum member). It was an invitation I wasn’t expecting and something I had never encountered before. I was pleasantly surprised.

After the books were signed, nice of us, including John and his publisher, headed to a reserved area in a pub off Oxford Street and John most generously shouted us some drinks. We chatted and mingled, talking about anything and everything, not just centred on his novels and had a great laugh. It was a very informal get together that I thoroughly enjoyed.

I was floored again by John’s generosity when he invited us all to dinner. How about that? I couldn’t believe it! It was a nice gesture to his devout fans and something, I could tell, he really wanted to do for them.

The seven of us who had dinner with John included three fans who had travelled from Iceland, Belgium and Spain just to be at this book signing. Everyone was known to John through the forum on his website and through meetings at crime writing festivals and previous readings; they were all very dedicated followers of his work. Ultimately, though, his invitation was open to everyone who had turned up at the signing and I was lucky enough to be able to tag along.

It was a lovely evening, very entertaining and informative and a great experience. I also got to know more about John Connolly, who proved himself to be a real generous and nice guy.

Or in Aussie parlance – a top bloke.

Thanks John!


Jo said...

Sounds like an absolutely fantastic night out.

Not jealous at all!


Daryl said...

It was great fun Jo - make sure you get to see him when he wanders up to your neck of the woods!