The Tempe Book Festival is set for April 16th, from 10:00 to 3:00, at the Tempe library. A veritable host of authors will be on hand to entertain the public with readings, books signings, and panel discussions. Bring the entire family and meet the creative minds responsible for writing some of your favorite fiction. A fun time is sure to be had by all.
Or is it?
For fans attending the event a panel discussion provides them the opportunity to ask authors all sorts of questions related to the writing process and specifics about the works of fiction the authors have created. The Tempe library was kind enough to invite me to sit on the Building Worlds panel. I currently refer to this upcoming event as—the Great Unknown.
While this isn’t my first time speaking in public or even participating in a panel it will be the first time I’ve gone into this sort of event without knowing what to expect. My previous author panels were all setup by me and I knew exactly what questions I was going to ask the rest of the authors.
I feel a bit like a duck in a shooting gallery, waiting for audience members to lob keenly insightful questions in my direction. A bright and inquisitive audience is all good and well as long as I manage to respond in a way that doesn’t make me look like the Rain Man. Memories of my first experience on live radio come to mind and the excruciating seconds of dead air as I attempted to answer an unexpected question from the host.
The radio program had thousands of listeners to experience my stumbling attempts to form coherent answers, making the panel discussion less stressful. That is until you consider the fact that the audience will actually be on hand to see any potential failure. There’s nothing like an all-eyes-on-you experience to rattle a speaker’s nerves.
This will also be the first time I’ve spoken with the other three authors on the panel. Not being the only one in front of the audience will certainly reduce the amount of audience terror that I feel, but how well will I get along with these other world-builders? Will the brilliance of their answers leave me in a shadow reserved for second-rate authors? What’s the possibility of a Jerry Springer moment where I get into a name-calling, hair-pulling, shirt-ripping exchange that lands us on the front page of the society section of the newspaper, with a heading of Writing Outcasts Ruin Peaceful World-Building Discussion?
Oh, sure. I can hear you out there now, telling me nothing of the sort will happen and that it’s just a matter of my imagination going places to where no man has gone before. You might be right, but then again what’s new? I’m an author. My imagination is always going places it has no right to go.
If you are in the greater Phoenix area, please consider stopping by the Book Festival. You can even try to stump me during the Building Worlds panel.