The event happened on the twenty year anniversary of 9/11, which coincidently reflects on the final scene in my first novel “Dronstad: the Quarantine” which is the first domestic military science fiction novels ever published in my country. The plot of the novel with its elements symbolically connected, and sort of guessed, the events that happened before and during the pandemic we know today. Many people who have read my novel valiantly state that my work foretold the future, thus proceeded to categorize me as one among the many prophets of old who only spoke of calamities and disasters with some success, where my novel excelled at telling the future, or interpreted the present with better precision. The sad event in America on September eleventh, and the motif from the novel were the initiating spark for me to imagine the end of the novel, and then return to the beginning where the story begun. From that point on, I imagined the world of Dronstad, neatly placed it inside of a quarantine, and told my story of morality, mortality, futility, courage, honor and urge to survive the rootless world that formed in my mind. This was how I got into writing a post-apocalyptical novels.
That morning of the “literary night” or as some here call it “Meet the author” begun as usual with a cup of coffee, me sitting on the porch, enjoy the sunlight and the sight of three apartment building in my block which motivated the creation of the saga. I could say that everything happened where it started, and ended, just like in my novel. After the coffee, I had a hardy breakfast, took a shower and chose my attire for the night. It had to be casual, yet elegant, so I opted for a pair of trousers, and a t-shirt with the Association logo on it. I made a few phone calls to check if my associates from the capitol arrived and what was their plan for the day. We also exchanged messages with the rest of the team to inform them of our plans and set up the meeting place before we get to promo location.
The time until the meeting at the restaurant passed briefly, so I changed clothes, packed the books in a backpack, took some money and my phone, and went to the bus station. I was in a company of both of my sisters that wanted to come and support me on my big day. Having people around you is a very nice thing, even more for me because I was very nervous, that I had to take some pills to calm down.
The bus ride was short. We reached the city center, and went to the restaurant where a couple of associates had lunch. This was the first time in years of communicating over messages that we actually met face to face. I am an introvert, so this was stressful as much as it was a pleasant thing. I am still processing what happened there, even though nothing traumatizing took place. We then made a bigger group and went to the other side of the walking street to find the promo location and more friends from the Association. And again, this was the first time I met them. Faces of the people I knew for years without seeing them up close lit up with joy and surprise, as if no one expected to really see me live. The initial surprise diminished with the first words, from where the interaction and dialogues transferred into our usual speaking patterns, as if we weren’t strangers, but close friends used to be together all of the time. At this point, I felt very weird, and saw things happening from the third person’s view.
After we got to know each other’s faces, we then entered the café, took the stairs down to the room we reserved. The first portions of the room had leather chairs, while the second had wooden chairs set in three rows for audience. We sat down, continued to talk and tell jokes, while some members of the team went to talk with the management about the things we needed. The drinks were all on the Association’s tab, so anybody could order drinks and not worry about the bill. I thought this was a nice move because everyone who came was a friend and friends shouldn’t have to pay for something we organized.
In brief lines, the senior members of the team informed me about the program and plans for the night. I agreed to speak about the technicalities about the portal, and a few more minor things considering my work there. Not many people came, but there was enough people from the Association to create a crowd. Before the main event begun, collaborators and contributors that came to meet us lined up in front of me for book signing. I exchanged some words with them, asked if they like the novel, and wrote something from the heart on the first page and signed it.
The event begun with an opening word from our great friend and associate that helped us find the place, organize the promotion and schedule the date with the café owner. She introduced us to a few guests that came, and then the senior members took the spotlight. We spoke about the Association birthday that falls on September 15th, and used this opportunity to celebrate it a few days early. After the opening segment about the non profit organization of ours, the talk steered toward the portal and me. I informed the public about our goals, the functions of the portal and what they can expect to find there. Among the novel we sell via online shop, we also offer quality book reviews which can be useful for those who want to check if some book is good, or not before buying or reading it. The conversation then proceeded on to the subject of the novel we edited, proofread and printed. Designated speakers presented the various novels we had laid out on the coffee tables, and added some interesting thoughts about the impressions they had while reading them. One of the regular writer-contributors to the portal spoke about my novel, and I must say that he did a very good job explaining the plot while holding the spoilers out.
This concluded the main segment of the night from where we opened the stage for question from the audience. The conversation went into freestyle were everyone asked something and got their answer. Some guests felt courageous enough to approach our tables, sit around us and spark a dialogue about the prices, plans and ask for more detail about our work. The room was full of laughter, chatter and glass clinking. Surrounded at all fronts, I felt comfortable to speak my mind, and just enjoy the company of friends and associates that became my second family thought the year of working together.
The crowd thinned out when the guests left, and the inner circle was alone in the room. We then continued to talk about the business stuff which is usually reserved for closed doors and not for ears of the general public. I heard some pleasant news considering future events, plans about new authors and books we lined up for publication. Writers in the room shared their current plans and reported on-going projects. I informed the collogues about my running projects and writings. We shared the experiences and advice with each other.
During this talk, and event which lasted three hours all together, I haven’t drank a glass of water, a cup of coffee or a glass of beer because I took the pills that morning to ease my nerves, so mixing them with alcohol would create problems in my stomach. I was the only one completely sober.
Even though the number of guests wasn’t even close to what I imaged, I still appreciate the chance to meet all of the people form the Association I didn’t knew, met, or know how did they look like in person. This was my first book promotion, and I am going to remember 9/11 as a day of great tragedy, but also as a new beginning and a pleasant gathering of friends.
And now, here are a few photographs of me among friends. I am the one with the beard in a leather chair.