Last week Monday, six weeks after Balthasars Vermaechtnis was published, I gave my debut book reading in Hamburg as part of Ariadne Verlag’s series ‘Der Krimi ist politisch‘. Hosted by the Buchladen Osterstrasse – a really lovely bookshop in Eimsbuettel, which I would visit on a regular basis if I lived in Hamburg – the series hopes to examine why political crime fiction is having such a heyday.
Thanks to coaching from my publisher Else Laudan and some practise earlier in the day, I was not too nervous. And thanks to some great publicity from the Hamburg Abendblatt, the bookshop was nice and full. There was some lovely South African wine on offer, which might have pulled people in (the bookshop has a reputation for clever pairings of wine and books), but as a rookie, I was just thrilled to see so many people there. My lovely blog and now in real life friend, Lilalia, came all the way from Luebeck with her son to support me. It was great to have two faces I knew in the audience. (Lilalia played a very special role in the writing of the book, but that’s a post for another day.)
Else Laudan and yours truly
Else and I had a game plan and we stuck to it. She spoke about the series, I read a chapter from the English manuscript, she read the following chapter in German and then we opened the floor to questions. There was much discussion – about the nature of crime fiction in general; about South African crime fiction and where it is going; why there is so much crime fiction coming out of the Scandinavian countries, which are essentially very stable and non-bloody in comparison to South Africa, which is less stable and more bloody; and some of the themes in Balthasars Vermaechtnis. I managed to not cover myself in shame while answering questions in German, though some may have winced. Later, I was told that my German is charming, which I think is a kind way of saying it is somewhat quirky and all over the place.
Else and I nochmal (see what I did there?)
And credit to Doris Claus, Torsten Meinicke and Gerlinde Schneider at the bookshop for organising it so well. They run frequent readings and that is clear in their slick yet relaxed style. Thanks too to Gerlinde for the photos in this post!
Afterwards, I got to sign books and talk to people. Then some of us went on for a drink, and it was truly splendid to chat to some really well-versed crime fiction aficionados about our shared interest. In the group was the exceedingly famous and prolific crime writer Robert Brack, who will be reading from his novels and talking about crime fiction with Ariadne author Clementine Skorpil on 23 September. Be there, Hamburgers!
It was an honour to take part in the Ariadne series and to be able to read from my book. If all future readings go as smoothly and well, and I get to meet such cool people, then I will continue be one very happy writer.