Christopher Brookmyre’s Book Signing

Thursday, August 9, 2007 1:36 | Filed in Books, Faith & Forteana, Thanatophobia, The Pickards

I went to a book-signing in Waterstones in Newcastle yesterday. It was, as you may possibly have speculated from the title of this post, a book signing done by Christopher Brookmyre. He’s written a number of books that are generally classed as ‘Crime fiction’, but that’s too simplistic a view: you’ve really got to stir in a healthy dollop of humour, a fair dash of Scottishness, and a soupçon of political satire, and then you’re getting nearer the mark.

In short, I like the stories he writes. They entertain me. I also like his writing ‘voice’.

It was therefore nice to get the opportunity to go and meet the bloke and have him read a couple of chapters of his latest book to me.

Christopher Brookmyre's Attack of The Unsinkable Rubber Ducks

Not only that, but he performed a magic trick for us. He got a number of members of the audience to write down their name and favourite film on pieces of paper, place them inside envelopes, seal them, and hand them to the front. He then held them up to his forehead and read out what they were.

In fact, he read out my name and my favourite film, although I knew he wasn’t psychic because that wasn’t my favourite film, it was just the first one I liked that I thought of at the time. He also claimed not to have any paranormal powers, saying instead that it was a trick which was explained in the book.

To be honest, I’m inclined to believe him. I’ve not started reading the book yet, so I don’t know precisely how it was done, but a couple of notions sprang to mind quickly:

  • The envelopes were quite thin, and when he put them down on the desk he shone a light through them to see what was written
  • I don’t recall him pulling my card out of the envelope (although he may have done); so knowing what is in a couple of the envelopes is a lot less impressive than knowing what is written in each individual sealed envelope. For this he needs the help of… maybe his mate in the audience to note down a couple of the answers being written down?

Of course, there are probably plenty of other ways it could have been done. As long as you start from the assumption that it wasn’t psychic power and try and work out how it was a trick, you’re heading in the right direction. If it turns out someone somewhere does have psychic powers, then you’re not going to be able to prove that anyway unless you can rule out all of the non-psychic ways that they could have done it.

Then there was a bit of a general question and answer session, which I thought was quite interesting because when he was answering the question “what harm is it?” in relation to religious beliefs, and listing various harms that could befall someone (being scammed etc), I mentioned the thanatophobia, and the fact that I’ve had over 100 comments on my original post about living with thanatophobia, and suggested that if a thanatophobic did believe in a God or an afterlife, then so long as they weren’t been fleeced by anyone, it would actually improve their quality of life, providing a tangible benefit even if it was wrong.

He even knew what thanatophobia meant, bless him, although he did pick up the reference from the song “Thanatos” by the Skids, which actually earned him bonus points in my eyes for liking a decent bit of punk rock.

I probably offended him by calling him ‘Chris’, on the assumption that most of the people I know called ‘Christopher’ prefer to be called ‘Chris’, yet he’s a chap who has all of his books with the name ‘Christopher Brookmyre’ written on them. It might be that he’s fond of the opher bit. If so, then I can only apologise; no offense was intended.

However, he should also look on the bright side: at least no-one asked “where do you get your ideas from?” during the question and answer session!

Then he read a bit more of the story, told us a bit about the book he’s currently writing (A Snowball In Hell) which features Simon Darcourt again — the Rank Bajin himself, which was a coincidence, because I’d just finished re-reading A Big Boy Did It And Ran Away (where Simon first appears) the previous night.

And then he read a bit more of the story, I bought a book and we all went home. Or rather, I went for a quick pint with the lad from work I’d attended the book signing session with and then I went home. What I should have done is to have asked Chris(topher) if he fancied coming along for a pint too: after all, as a Scotsman coming frae close to Glasgae, he’s got a stereotype to live up to!

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5 Comments to Christopher Brookmyre’s Book Signing

  1. Mike says:

    August 9th, 2007 at 9:31 am

    very interesting. I thought google might be my friend here, but it wasn’t – it just told me something about carrots. I’d love to know the answer when you find out…

  2. JackP says:

    August 9th, 2007 at 6:17 pm

    It’s actually rather simple to be honest. In fact, I’ve performed a variation on precisely the same trick myself from time to time. I’m a little disappointed I didn’t recognise it :-)

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  5. Sachin says:

    December 10th, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    io non capisco tutta qutsea disapprovazione da parte della gente lo sparatutto su binari un genere come l adventure, action ecc.non potete dire che da sala giochi solo perch nato li. Forse pu nn piacervi come gusti personali ma non si pu dire che deve restare nelle sala giochi, xk c gente (cm me)a cui il genere piace e trova sul wii il meglio di se

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