Dead Man Launching

Dead Man Launching

147 days ago

‘He strode onto the tiny stage in the poky, smoky barn of a room, met with a smattering of applause rather than full-throated cheers.’

Dave Masters’ experience at the very beginning of chapter 1 of Dead Man Singing was strangely similar, yet hugely different to mine on Sunday 1st October. I strode onto a stage too, in a venue that Dave would have turned his nose up at, but for me it was a glorious celebration in the perfect place in front of an invited crowd of guests.

The Cellar Bar at Chaplin’s in Boscombe, Bournemouth is small but neither poky nor smoky. It’s an iconic landmark on the Bournemouth music scene, putting on live acts most nights of the week, every week. It was the perfect place to celebrate the launch of a book steeped in music and performance. I even had my own walk-on music: The Beatles’ Paperback Writer (of course!) Resident sound engineer and all-round legend Conrad Barr helped me to recruit two local musicians – Olly Hopper Pay and Andy Stock, collectively known as Burning Shepherd – for a musically enhanced reading from the first chapter of Dead Man Singing. It had always been my intention for the music to be an integral part of the storytelling in the book, and Olly and Andy brought that side of the book to life, playing extracts from some of the songs that I put in Dave’s mouth.

After the reading, Olly and Andy treated the audience to a fantastic set of their own music while I retreated to the far end of the room to sign books. It was lovely to talk to so many friends, old and new, and the only down side was that I didn’t get to listen as closely as I would have liked to Olly and Andy – the snatches that I heard sounded like they were right up my musical street, even throwing in some covers of songs featured in my book.

Thank you to everyone who came along on the night; to Liz Gordon of Brilliant Fish PR for steering a novice author through all the arrangements and coming up with the brilliant idea of holding the event at Chaplin’s; to Geoff Popple and all the staff at Chaplin’s (including the aforementioned Conrad) for looking after us so well; to my old friend Paul Lock of Kitchen in Pokesdown (well worth a visit, particularly for his award-winning breakfasts) for catering the event; to Olly and Andy for bringing Dave’s music to life and adding so much to the atmosphere and mood of the event as a whole.

So Dead Man Singing is out in the world. It was wonderful to mark the occasion with great friends and great music. I’ve mentioned above some of the people who made it happen, but I should also thank all of my friends and family, work colleagues past and present, and fellow members of the Bournemouth Writing Festival community who turned up to support me and enjoy the music. I was a bit nervous beforehand, but once we got going, I had a blast from start to finish. Thank you to everyone who came and made it such a memorable occasion. It was so good, I’ll have to publish another book just so I can do it all again. Where’s my laptop…?

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