In December 2014, the flash fiction project that I’d been curating on behalf of the wonderful Tiny Owl Workshop culminated in a launch event at Outlaws Yacht Club in Leeds.
Having deliberated with my fellow judge, Steve Toase, over which Krampus-themed flash fictions to choose and print, I’d then spent many a night putting together a batch of around 1000 Krampus story crackers, aided by a team of wonderful elves. (June Taylor requires a special mention here for her dedication to the cause, both as a cracker manufacturer and delivery driver. :-))
When the night of the launch event arrived, the first sets of crackers accompanied me to the venue, ready to be unleashed on the general public.
Nine of the Krampus authors attended the event to read their flash fictions, and they did a great job of it, keeping the crowd so enraptured that apart from the occasional burst of laughter, or horrified sucking-in of breath, you could hear a pin drop.
As for me, well, my first attempt to compere a launch event went fairly smoothly. However, if I ever do anything like this again, there are a few things I’d do differently. This is the advice I’d give my future self:
Don’t eat a goat’s cheese and beetroot sandwich while greeting authors.
I would advise anyone running a literary event to eat well in advance of it. You might have good intentions, and be thinking to yourself “Ooh, I’ll have at least half an hour at the venue to grab a bite to eat,” but be warned – that time will disappear in a whirl of last minute checks and queries. You will end up trying to stuff down a ciabatta in the precious moments before your first author appears, leading to you greeting them with slightly pink teeth.
Try not to come across as an alcoholic.
As the Krampus authors arrived, I accosted them with a cry of “Free wine! Have some free wine!” This was my attempt – funded by the lovely Sue Wright at Tiny Owl – to give them a little something as a thank you for attending, but combined with my nervous energy (read, wide-eyed panic), may have come across more as a manic attempt to force-feed them alcohol. In combination with my pink teeth, I’m not convinced this generated the best possible first impression….
Don’t set fire to the furniture.
I’d just like to reiterate that the smoking lightbulb incident was entirely accidental, and that no sofas were seriously injured in the making of this launch event. Next time, I’ll do my best to remember that it’s not a good idea to leave hot items resting on a combustible surface, especially if you can’t see them, therefore missing the first tell-tale wisps of smoke, which have to be pointed out to you by audience members. Enough said.
Try not to traumatise the people in the front row.
When, mid-way through the event, I leant towards the crowd in a friendly manner and informed them that it was Krampusnacht the next day, I forgot about the red light shining down on my face, lighting up my eyes in a devilish fashion. In hindsight, I could have missed out the part where I warned everyone to behave so as to avoid being dragged to hell in a sack, but to be fair, I hadn’t realised how close I was to the blokes at the front.
They did look a bit terrified. I’d already set fire to the sofa at this point.
Actually, the evening went really well. The authors were fabulous, the crowd were fantastic, and everyone loved the crackers. I am slightly OCD when it comes to organising events, and this seemed to pay off, because, aside from the exceptions above, everything went to plan.
Anyway, Krampus must have approved, as there wasn’t a single lump of coal in my Christmas stocking.