A Super Day for Space Games
My former hometown bookstore was ready this time – with two employees on duty instead of one.
I mention this because back in 2007, when I first appeared at Books on the Common in Ridgefield, Connecticut, to sign copies of my sci-fi horror novel “Vespa,” the store stationed only one employee to work the register, believing that a debut author peddling a sci-fi novel from a small press wouldn’t draw much attention. Surprise, surprise…. That employee quickly became overwhelmed as the store filled up with my relatives, coworkers, friends, friends of friends, and even a few strangers.
This time – Sunday, September 29, 2013, to be exact – as the patrons almost continuously flowed into Books on the Common, the store was prepared to handle the business. And after a disappointing six-year publication slump, I was ready as well with two boxes of paperbacks, a pile of bookmarks, movie posters, wine and appetizers. After an initial group came in, there was a short lull and I had a snack and checked out some of the bookstore’s great selections. It wasn’t long, however, that the folks started pouring in again, and some two dozen or more dedications and signatures later, my hand cramped up. A few kids tried to take home my new book – a sci-fi social satire called “Space Games” – but when the parents came by to have me sign the copy, I had to explain that the novel is Rated-R and definitely not for kids … that I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone under 17. Despite these unfortunate but necessary turn-away transactions, the momentum for “Space Games” built and when we were done at the bookstore, many of the attendees and I migrated to my childhood friend’s big, beautiful home on the Norwalk-New Canaan line for a “Space Games” after-party.
When I stepped inside my friend Carleen’s home, I was overwhelmed with joy. Dozens of people, some who hadn’t been able to make it to the bookstore earlier in the day, turned toward the doorway to greet me. I saw some faces I hadn’t seen in years and tried to hug each and every one of them. There were “Space Games” prints hanging all over the first floor, one clinging to the wine and champagne table, and black and blue helium balloons tethered to chairs and banisters. Buffet tables were crowded with entrees and snacks, and once the exciting business of greeting everyone, including those who came in after me, was complete, I had a glass of wine to relax me, a carrot stick or two, and caught up more intimately with some of the people I knew and those I didn’t know. It was all so humbling. My older brother, Peter, a top English-style horseback rider, instructor and trainer, had flown all the way in from Southern California to see me. When it came time for my friend Carleen’s husband, Vince, to publically welcome all his guests and congratulate me, I got to say a few words. I thanked everyone for coming and briefly explained that becoming a traditionally published author isn’t always a blissful journey (can you say ‘understatement’?). First, there’s all the research and hard work one has to undertake in solitary (lonely) fashion, often into the wee hours of the morning. Then there’s the helpful sometimes harsh feedback one must receive, some of which at first feels like a solid Mike Tyson uppercut to the gut or jaw. And finally there’s all the deflating rejection that comes during the search for an agent or publisher, particularly when trying to find one that would see the beauty in an unorthodox novel such as “Space Games,” which in satirical fashion reflects many of our society’s uglier aspects. (I wish Sammy Smith and Zoe Harris from Grimbold Books could have been there to celebrate this fantastic day with me.) I thanked my brother for being such “a rock” through our family’s recent hard times, namely my mother’s unexpected passing which had hit me at a time when I was already despondent enough. I stared up at the ceiling of the enormous room … and then beyond … and thanked my mom for her love and wisdom. My gaze returned to the crowd and I told them with tearful sincerity that their presence had made this rollercoaster ride to Hell and back all worth it.
When dinner had ended my hosts sat me down at a table across from the door, and then some more friends, relatives and newly made acquaintances had me sign copies of the book. My hand cramped up again. But it was a small price to pay for the gift they’d given to me: their presence, their smiles, and their support.
In sports, it’s called home-field advantage. And that day in Ridgefield, and then in Norwalk, I felt the crowd and all of its positive energy surging in me, giving my lonely and often bleak pursuit of writing and selling novels a festive, happy ending.
From Kristell Ink: