Thursday, December 10, 2015

Of Props and Profundity

In the course of my book-flogging career I probably spend two to four weekends a year standing behind a table promoting my books. A couple of years ago I decided I needed something else to attract the eye of the unwary reader. I needed a prop.

            I had created display signs with pictures of my book covers, give-away cards to showcase what I’ve had published, and have a large banner to decorate the table. I felt I needed something more. Years ago, when my first short vampire tale came out in an anthology, I did a book launch surrounded by bats and rats and a human skull on the signing table. No one thought that was tacky, and I received several favorable comments.

            What would work for a high fantasy writer who also scribbles fantasy mystery tales? Sometime, during a conversation with my wife, I mentioned I was fond of saber tooth cat skulls. My wife confessed she had almost bought me one once, and had priced them. I don’t need to tell you what happened next.

            It was lovely, a life-sized resin skull molded from an original. I took my prize to a convention and set it up on the table, jaws agape. Knowing that the ladies make up 60% of readership, and prefer a touch of romance, I stuffed his mouth with artificial roses.

            I should digress a moment to inform you how he was named. In taking a few pictures at home, I held the thing up as though talking to it, and pronounced him, alas to be Yorrick. At a convention, one of the top Spec Fiction writers stopped by at the table and I introduced them. “Prehistoric Yorrick,” he announced, and it has stuck ever since.

            How well does he work, you might ask? Not particularly well at all, I suspect. I may get four or five people to stop and examine him, and at least one a day offering to buy him, but I’m not sure if Yorrick has sold any books. At best, he is an excuse to attempt a conversation.

            So this year I added a genuine homemade dragon’s egg in a small wooden chest, lid propped open. Dragon’s eggs are apparently much more popular than saber tooth cat skulls. Several folk stopped to coo and touch and wanted to buy. Don’t remember if any of them bought a book, though. I suspect all the attention may have something to do with a certain game with thrones.

            But I shall press on. If asked, yes, I have used saber tooth cats, or the mention of them, in at least two of my Housetrap Chronicles tales, and dragons do make an appearance in three of my high fantasy novels.

            For the first year my wife allowed me to set Prehistoric Yorrick up in the dining room where he yawned at anyone who dropped over. Unfortunately, he has since been relegated to a box with the rest of my convention supplies and books. I guess the novelty has worn off around the house, too.

            And please take note, the proper term is saber tooth cat, not tiger, just for the record.


The Dark Lady Trilogy (Volume 1,2,3)
The Queen’s Pawn (Volume 1) (volume 2, The Queen’s Man, due out shortly!)
The Housetrap Chronicles (Volumes 1 to 7)
Alex in Wanderland,
Knight’s Bridge