Sunday, November 19, 2006

Was that a party or what!

What a party!

Was that a great party or what! And is this a relieved hostess or what?

Yesterday’s Afternoon of Murder at the Moonshine Café (www.themoonshinecafe.com) was a huge success. At first I was afraid that no one would come, and then I was afraid that we’d be turning people away. But to start at the beginning.

My great friends, Jan and Paul Toms, are partners in a fantastic little place in Oakville, Ontario called the Moonshine Café. Think 1960’s, think early Dylan, think Kerouac, think coffee house. Add a liquor license and you have the Moonshine.

Their rasons d’ être is music, everything from drop-in-and-jam sessions to professional groups are at the café seven days a week. They’ve had poetry readings, but never a novel event.

Paul asked me if I’d like to have a signing or something at the café. But I’d already had the launch of Burden of Memory at the (sadly) now-defunct Scene of the Crime bookstore not too far away. I figured that we’d only get the same bunch of people out. Whereupon I thought of having a much bigger event, and inviting other authors to participate. I looked for a combination of writers I love, with much different styles, and tried to put together an event.

Please believe me, I can’t organize a two-car parade. Nor would I have thought that I might try. And there I was, trying to pull together a six writer afternoon.

Writers are supposed to be difficult and temperamental. Let me tell you that in my experience they’re the opposite. I approached Maureen Jennings, Rick Blechta, Sylvia Maultash Warsh, Jeffrey Miller, and Jean Rae Baxter. They signed on with enthusiasm.

I invited friends, I sent out press releases, I chewed my nails. What if no one came? I’d have dragged these very busy, very popular authors out to Oakville, Ontario only to stand around glaring at me.

To cut a long story short – less than ten minutes after the program began, I was getting worried that we would have to turn people away. The café keeps a cluster of chairs outside for smokers: one by one the chairs were carried in. Quite literally, the last patron met the last chair. And this isn’t something fanciful: a licensed establishment has to pay great attention that they don’t exceed the number of people allowed on the premises. Paul and John were counting heads all afternoon.

Because the Moonshine Café is primarily a musical establishment, they just happen to have guitars and a piano hanging around. Jeffrey and Rick were gently persuaded to play during the break. I think I heard something about the smashing of fingers if they refused,

My daughter Alex bought a copy of Jean Rae Baxter’s book, A Twist of Malace. Alex called me this morning to say that she was at work (she’s a paramedic) but was she was still feeling disturbed at the story of Panther. Is that a testament to the power of Jean’s book, or what!

I have so many people to thank. Paul and Jan Toms, of course. John Marlatt for inviting us to his wonderful café. Phyllis Miller and my incomparable mother, Gail Cargo, for handling the money and trying to sort out the book buying despite the fact that I didn’t have a clue of how to organize it. Iden Ford for taking pictures, and helping at the book table. I’ll try to post some of Iden’s pictures later. Helen Brown, who I can always count on for her tremendous enthusiasm of everything literary.

Again, thanks to Rick Blecta, Jean Rae Baxter, Sylvia Maultash Warsh, Maureen Jennings and Jeffrey Miller. Great readers all. And even better writers.

I was asked to do it all again next year. We will just have to see.

Best,

Vicki

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