A Message from Laura Kalpakian:
Hello PLACEBO authors! We are delighted you are joining us for the Third Annual Reading of the novel at Village Books. Clearly PLACEBO gave all of you much fun; the book is filled with narrative energy, wit, comedy and drama. A guaranteed surprise every day with each new chapter.
On Monday, December 8th we meet in VB’s downstairs reading space. Please come 15 minutes early, at 6:15. We will start on time. We have two hours, 6:30 to 8:30. That’s all we have. We have a lot of readers. This means that each of you gets FOUR MINUTES. That’s it. No matter how brilliant your prose, your take on the novel, your backgrounds to the characters, four minutes is it. If you go over that, a loud drum will sound with a dirge-beat, or perhaps a shrieking whistle will rend the air, or a couple of rodeo clowns will come and escort you off. Don’t find out. Please observe the time limit.
The allotted time is short because we also have to allow for introductions, for applause (lots of it) for laughter (lots of that too) and to get one person down from the lectern and another person up. We’ll reserve the front rows for the authors. Please sit there.
Your four minutes also includes your intro to your material. Here are some thoughts and suggestions for keeping it fast-paced and lively:
Firstly, don’t try to make sense. The novel doesn’t make sense. It isn’t supposed to, and that’s the fun of it. Anyone who wants the larger picture, can go online and read it for free.
Don’t recap what came before. (When we last saw our heroine, she was……..) No. Keep it in the present that you created.
Your intro might read something simple like:
“Hi, I’m ____________ [your name]
and I took these characters [name the characters you dealt with; if they are new characters you created for your chapter then briefly identify: “I made up a new character, Lili Spedrova, the palm reader,” We don’t need Lili’s background. She reads palms. Maybe she read Miranda’s palm and told her to dump Scott. Keep it simple. If you made up new characters, and they don’t show up in your reading, don’t refer to them.]
“I brought (or sent) these characters to__________ [wherever, especially if you moved the location of the action] where they __________did whatever they did.” Keep it simple. If they robbed a bank, say it, but don’t tell us how they tunneled underground for three days segueing into the difficulties of the bank’s alarm system. Your intro should frame your excerpt, not the whole chapter.
Then, for the read itself select c. 250 to 300 words (depending on the length of your intro) that best exemplifies your narrative voice. Your audience wants to hear your voice, both speaking and on the page. If you’ve got witty dialogue, use the dialogue. If you’ve created a great spooky scene, then use 300 words of that. If you have written something uproariously funny, use that. Decide what really sounds like you, the author. Feel free to skip about and edit from your chapter. Trust me, no one will know the difference.
Lastly, do your edits and time yourself for the whole read. Don’t guess at it. Rehearse with a timer. Make your adjustments accordingly.
I have requested Sam to be our downstairs VB liaison person for the read; he is excellent, energetic and charming. If you need something, ask him. I am going to request a lot of chairs because of course all writers have their entourages, and you should all bring yours. I will also ask to have a table with some water glasses there as well.
Lastly, amigos, the allotted time is short because as you all well know, no one can sit in those folding metal chairs for two hours without serious lumbago setting in.
I look so forward to Monday the 8th, to seeing you, your entourages, and all the Red Wheelbarrow Writers, to hearing your inimitable voices read successive portions of deathless prose. November is a great month for writers.
If you have questions, please feel free to zap a note to Laura, or Susan or Victoria.