My first encounter with the “magic carpet” treatment that authors receive from Literary Festivals came at the Edmonton airport when we were met by the friendly volunteer Jean Crozier, who whisked us in her car to our downtown hotel. In less than an hour I was perched on one of those bar stools reserved for TV talk shows, and trying to interest the passing crowd of shoppers in the possibility of coming along to my show that evening. The amiable CBC host/interviewer got the name of my book wrong, but recovered swiftly after I happened to mention it in the course of my reply. Another of my Awful Warningscomes true in real life. Lunch with the energetic David Cheoros, who runs the festival, resplendent in characteristic suspenders. Then we moved to the Milner Library Theatre for technical preparation — stage setting, lights, screen, sound, with my “Techie,” Jane, handling the computer power point show link-up. I ran through 10 minutes, almost like a real professional actor, then we called it a day . . . or a rehearsal. It’s remarkable fun to work with real professionals in an unfamiliar world.
That evening the show went fine, with the attendant photos by the excellent Kim Fong showing what it was like. Afterwards I got to sit there smiling at a table and signing books, some of them to Alberta relatives, but others to apparently sober civilians. There are book-signing tricks, as I am learning. When an old acquaintance whose name you have forgotten asks you to sign, the stand-by “And how would you like me to sign it?” does not always work. “Oh, just to me” is not the reply you want. And the feeble, “Let me be certain about how you spell your name” can lead to the barked reply,”Mary!” I’m sure there are ways out of this. Time will tell.
— Douglas Gibson