Morning and early afternoon: Did supplies shopping (Pepsi-Max cans, these yum WW Coconut Bars, long-life milk); had Subway for lunch; put up venue maps and programs; last-minute committee meeting (played with Legos); packed conbags as long as my back held out.
When my back stopped working around about 3PM I went and flopped on the floor in the Dealers’ Den. Justin from Slow Glass Books had already obtained permission from Seanan to sell copies of her new novella, Down Among the Sticks and Bones, beginning from when the Dealers’ Den officially opened at 4PM on the Friday. Usually breaking street date is a no-no, but considering we were launching the book at the convention it was an exception.
From 3PM to 3.30PM I mostly just stared at Justin as he told me that he wasn’t selling me the book until launch date, and then not until Tuesday, and that genuflecting (since I was on the floor) wasn’t going to help. The staring was intended as an intimidation tactic. Those of you who have met me will know that that’s not necessarily a thing that works coming from a person sitting on the floor, even one with piercings and tattoos and purple hair.
3.30PM and fifteen seconds: Justin put the first copies of DAtSaB out on the table.
3.30PM and thirty seconds: I was settled beside the cashier table with a copy of the book in my lap.
3.31PM: Justin turned around, realised I had the book, Looked at me, and I threatened to lick the book if he tried to take it away.
I think it took me a little over an hour to read the book. It’s a novella and I’m a fast reader. Jo was passing me chocolate freckles and I am vaguely aware of putting them in my mouth, because there was sugar, but I was 99.6% absorbed in the book. Justin did try to stick his face between me and the book once or twice, but the fun part there was that he was only halfway through his own reading, so after a certain point all I had to do was remind him of that fact. I didn’t threaten him with spoilers, because that would be mean, but I did just say, ‘You’re only halfway through this book. I am up to here.’ When 4PM hit and he and Jo started making sales I just handed him my card and said, ‘Please try to only charge me for this.’
He knew when I was done. Bookseller or reader sense, I don’t know which.
‘How was it?’
‘Good. Great. You’ll love it. I need to go cry now.’
He said he’d only cried over books three times and they all involved dogs. I made a dig about Marley and Me, but then I really did need to go away and cry.
Down Among the Sticks and Bones is a beautiful book. The cover is beautiful, the writing is beautiful, the heartbreak is beautiful. It made me thrilled for Jack and Jill in parts, creeped out, angry, happy, sad, all in different ways. It smells beautiful (yes, I am a book smeller). The Moors were, to me, a liminal space that resonated very strongly with places I carry in my own head. As afraid as I am of the deep sea (thalassophobia, I has it; reading Into the Drowning Deep when it comes out will be an exercise to be carried out in the broadest of daylight, also possibly in a desert if I can manage it), I think I would have turned towards the ocean.
And that is all I will say for fear of spoilers.