The Grig Story

by Doc Coleman on August 19, 2020 · 0 comments

in Asides, Balticon, Novels

This post is the result of this tweet from Morgan Hazelwood. Morgan does a lot of writer outreach on Twitter. This week, she asked writers to “Share a happy writer moment that keeps you going when the writing gets tough.” I considered for a while, but the one story that kept coming to mind was an event that I think of as “The Grig Story”. It was a bit long for putting into Twitter, so I decided it would be better to publish it here, and link as needed.

Our story takes place back in 2013. I was a guest at Balticon 47 and I was scheduled for a late night reading with Piper J. Drake, who at that time was publishing as PJ Schnyder, and Grig Larson. As you can imagine, Grig features prominently in this story.

Piper, Me, and Grig (Photo courtesy of Jason Banks)

Programming had apparently put the three of us together because we’d each written something at least vaguely steampunk at some time in the past, although Piper was mostly writing paranormal romance, and Grig was writing comedic Sci-fi. Whatever the reason we’d been put together on the schedule, an audience had shown up to our reading in the depths of the Mandelbrot Marriot and we thought we’d do our best to entertain them.

Piper did her reading first. She started us off with a steamy, although not Steampunk, reading from her paranormal romance novella “Bite Me“, which is the first of her London Undead series. This book was a sneak preview for us at Balticon, but it is now available as an e-book.

Next up was Grig Larsen with a selection from his sci-fi novel Space B!tch, a story of an incredibly psychotic space captain and her crew.

Then it was my turn. I offered the audience a choice between a selection from “The Cross of Columba” or a new selection from my novel The Perils of Prague. Prague won by a landslide. At that time the book was still a work in progress, as I mentioned before I started the reading.

I started reading a section from the middle of the book where Miss Bang leads His Lordship into Professor Crackle’s laboratory, and everyone got quiet. At first, I didn’t think anything of it. But as I kept reading, everyone remained quiet. Even during the parts where they were supposed to laugh.

From the corner of my eye, I saw Grig pick up his phone and give it intense scrutiny as he began rapidly tapping buttons. “Great,” I thought. I’ve lost them. I’ve completely lost the audience. Grig is so bored he’s playing games on his phone.” While I was consumed with self-doubt, I continued my reading, giving it my best.

I hit the first stopping point, but we had time, and they asked me to keep going. I continued reading, while the room remained eerily silent.

Finally, I came to my second prepared stop point. I finished reading, and put my iPad down on the table. The crowd clapped politely and a young man in the first row leaned forward and put his hand on the table and asked “Where can I get this book?”

I replied, “Nowhere. It hasn’t been published yet.”

At that point, Grig put down his phone and replied, “That’s why I can’t find it on Amazon.”

The whole time I thought he was playing games on his phone, he was actually searching for my book so he could buy it. Everyone had been eerily quiet because they were hanging on my every word.

I think of this story because it reminds me that sometimes when you think you’ve screwed up, you’re actually doing so well that no one wants to interrupt you and break the spell.

If you’d like to hear that reading, the audio is attached to this post.

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