Author: J.Paul Henderson
Published: 8th January 2016
Publisher: No Exit Press
Today I have the pleasure of being part of the Blog Tour for The Last of the Bowmans by J. Paul Henderson. I had the pleasure of reading J.Paul's début Last Bus to Coffeeville last year and am delighted to be sharing with you a piece from him on promoting his book in the blogosphere. Don't forget to stop by the other stops on the tour
It’s a lot easier touring Blogland to promote a new book than it is the real world. For one thing you don’t get wet when it rains, and for another, you never have to worry about finding a parking space. You also don’t have to stand up in front of three people and pretend you’re happy to be in the room with them.
When the paperback edition of Last Bus to Coffeeville was published last year, I was asked by my publisher to do a short author tour of Yorkshire: one library and three bookshops. I said yes, because my publisher is No Exit Press and, consequently, there’s no way out of these things.
The tour was a desultory affair, more miss than hit, and what should have been its highlight, An Evening with J. Paul Henderson in York, proved its nadir.
If I’m honest, even I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to spend an evening with J. Paul Henderson. I get enough of him during the day, and I doubted that many others – even with the added advantage of not knowing me – would want to make the effort. After all, I was a first-time author whose book, at that time, had failed to capture the nation’s lack of imagination. Book tours, as far as I was concerned, were for others.
Five minutes before the event was due to start, the only people in the room were me and the bookshop assistant who’d organised the evening. We drank coffee, chatted idly about his interest in tallow chandlering, and nervously glanced at the door; both wondering if an audience would ever materialize.
In the event, it did. With two minutes remaining, an old Scottish couple walked into the room, and three minutes later they were joined by a middle-aged woman and a dog.
“I think this is it,” the bookshop assistant whispered after a further five minutes had elapsed.
I was reminded in that moment of famous rock bands who’d played full sets to similarly unpacked houses in their early careers, and I took heart. I determined to emulate – if not excel – their professionalism, and for the next fifteen minutes spoke without script on the themes of the novel. It was a waste of breath.
It turned out that the Scottish couple – who, despite their fervent nationalism had decided to settle in Yorkshire – were there under the impression that it was a local history evening and that I was a local historian. They were therefore surprised – and not in a good way – when they learned that the book was a novel about dementia and assisted suicide. (I should point out here that Last Bus to Coffeeville is a much happier and more light-hearted read than I make it appear).
Mrs Rob Roy then made it clear to everyone – still only the four of us – that she had no truck with assisted suicide, and that her own mother had never been as happy as the time she’d suffered from Alzheimer’s. Dementia, it appeared, was a real plus for old people.
I gave a thoughtful ‘Hmmm’ when she said this, and was fortunately spared from further comment when the woman with the dog announced that she’d got as far as chapter two of my book and had decided to read no further. “I said Maggie, why are you doing this to yourself?” she said. “Why are you making yourself so depressed? Just get the author to sign the book and give it to someone else as a present.” (Evidently it was the one-page description of the Vietnam War that had overwhelmed her sensibilities).
The three of them then started to chat amongst themselves, drink coffee and eat biscuits.
No books were sold that evening and I made no new fans – though Mrs Rob Roy did promise to take an interest in my future writing career. I thanked her, and made a mental note to check the obituaries for her name.
I’m not suggesting in any way that the recent flooding of York was divine retribution for the reception given to me by that city almost a year ago – just as I’m equally sure that the lightning strike that destroyed the roof of the Minster’s South Transept in 1984 wasn’t the outburst of a Creator unhappy that David Jenkins, the maverick Bishop of Durham, had been consecrated there only three days earlier.
Events like these, though, do make you think, don’t they? And it’s odd that I’ve started reading the Bible again.
The Bible? That’s another Blog, but in hard copy.
J Paul Henderson was born and grew up in Bradford, West Yorkshire, gained a Master's degree in American Studies and travelled to Afghanistan. He worked in a foundry, as a bus conductor, trained as an accountant and then, when the opportunity to return to academia arose, left for Mississippi,returning four years later with a doctorate in 20thC US History and more knowledge of Darlington Hoopes than was arguably necessary. (Hoopes was a Pennsylvanian socialist and the last presidential candidate of the American Socialist Party). American History departments were either closing or contracting, so he opted for a career in publishing, most of which was spent selling textbooks, in one position or other, for John Wiley & Sons. He lives in a house in England, drives a car and owns a television set. And that's about it.