Depending on my state of mind, I think of the imminent publication of my debut novel, My Own Dear Brother, with soaring excitement or gut-bludgeoning fear; the 11th February 2016 is a shimmering mountain peak that I’ve climbed towards so long, where I will surely be able to stand at last and indulge in some yodeling (won’t that feel very fine? Won’t I be permanently grinning?) But then, when a wave of self-doubt hits me, it transforms into a more shadowy shape, a siege engine maybe, rumbling my way, teetering and loaded with God-knows-what kind of weaponry. I scurry nervously on the ramparts, trying to strengthen my defenses.
To stop myself from being so melodramatic, I’ve been getting on with preparation for my book launch. It’s time for a proper party and I’m chuffed to say the venue (Little Man Coffee in Cardiff) is now full. After all these years and all that work, I want to celebrate with everyone who’s supported me. Gathering stupid Austrian-themed raffle prizes has been fun (e.g. The Sound of Music/The Terminator) and finding some willing individuals to dress up as Krampus (my brother and my dad, who is a real Austrian, so beware). The bar will be stocked with schnapps and Austrian beers. But best of all has been rehearsing the performance itself.
I couldn’t resist the idea of a collaboration with some of my band-mates from Hail! The Planes and Winter Villains. I’ve missed music over recent months, when there’s been so little time amidst book-related busyness. This seemed like a great chance. So, we’ve devised a half-hour performance of readings from the novel with live soundtrack and I’m really excited about it. The compositions are carefully arranged to accompany the scenes I’ve chosen. There are a lot of mesmeric piano patterns reminiscent of Philip Glass, ominous electric drones, and delicate sound-scaping. We’ve all been pleasantly surprised by how well it works. I’m really looking forward to doing it for real.
Today is one of the days when I gaze ahead at the mountain peak that is 11th February and grin. Having the launch the day after will really make the experience personal and memorable for me. I’ve just finished a Skype conversation with my Austrian relation, who’s flying here especially (amazing!). She approved all my choices for the Austrian snacks I’ll be providing, and she has busily made a list of ‘essentials’ that she ‘must’ bring: oval paper plates and red and white napkins traditional for serving würstl (frankfurters), about ten tons of dark rye bread, and a fresh horseradish sauce that will ‘really be Hell’. Perfect.