This past Saturday I participated in the 510 Reading Series in Baltimore. I was humbled to read along side Karen Lillis, Elisabeth Dahl and Justin Sirois, each of whom brought their A-game and read really fantastic prose. (For an excellent review of the event overall check out attendee and fellow-writer Garvi Sheth’s lovely recap.) The 510 organizers, Michael Kimball and Jen Michalski, have truly created a special program that draws incredible readers and listeners alike, so if you ever get the chance to participate or attend, do yourself a favor and do it. There were so many people in attendance, mostly regulars to the series as far as I could tell, that it was standing room only only minutes after 5PM. A few J-Rans were in attendance too with my Mom, Dad, Sister, Uncle and a few family acquaintances stopping by.
Some excitement prior to the reading came when the box of 25 free advanced reader copies of ZOMBIE that my publisher sent to the gallery prior to the event had been delivered to another building. Thankfully, the kind folks at the coffee shop five doors down from the gallery who signed for the box were kind enough to hold it for me until my amateur detective skills tracked it down. We put the books on display and by the end everything was gone.
It’s always a little weird to read from ZOMBIE. I would say that it’s a bit spicy when it comes to content and language, and I never really know how people are going to respond to it–if they are going to laugh or if the room is going to be filled with nothing but crickets and tumbleweeds. I calmed my nerves and lowered the bar of expectation for us all by reading some hate email I had recently received that was in response to ZOMBIE. This crowd was terrific–they were great listeners, lovely laughers, and very kind with applause. In a way, I’m glad I went first because nobody wants to listen to incredibly dark yet beautiful prose and then have to listen to me read 5 pages of penis and necktie references. (I’m telling you, it’s a really good book!)
Afterwards, a group of us celebrated the reading and St. Patrick’s Day by hitting a nearby bar, which ended (as it often does) with me feeding the jukebox with dollar bills, cuing up the Drive-By Truckers and The Hold Steady, cutting through the tidal wave of Irish music before it. Some things will never change.