Preparing to launch Part 3 — guest blog by Rick James

Well, con­trary to Susan and Harold’s exper­i­ences with book sign­ings, I actu­ally looked for­ward to my book launch of West Coast Wrecks & Other Maritime Tales with a good deal of con­fid­ence. Per­haps too much.

For one, I have no short­age of taste­ful, bet­ter qual­ity shirts in my closet. (Christmas presents over the years from Mom and also cour­tesy of Paula’s broth­er who man­ages the fash­ion­able out­door store, REI, in San Francisco). Plus I had just bought a new pair of black jeans. And since I don’t live in Merville like Harold, my fin­ger­nails stay reas­on­ably clean.

But I do make sure I get a hair­cut just before a present­a­tion. Oth­er­wise, my unruly, white locks tend to make me look like a deranged Albert Einstein.

Also, I cred­it my abil­ity to stay relaxed before a group to the fact that I’ve giv­en a fair amount of slide shows and present­a­tions over the years. And for some bizarre reas­on, I’ve become a more social anim­al as I age and actu­ally enjoy stand­ing up in front of a group. (This been a sur­prise to Paula who often reminds me that I used to be a quiet and retir­ing Fanny Bay recluse.)

Last fall I had my book launch at the Vancouver Maritime Museum. And, gad sakes! some 60+ people turned up and they were all out there in front of me!! Man, I was pumped and I think my pub­li­cist from Harbour Publishing was sur­prised too. Turns out she mis­judged the num­ber of people who would attend and hadn’t pur­chased enough pastry items; a dis­ap­point­ment for those late get­ting to the good­ies table.

The PowerPoint present­a­tion went over exceed­ingly well. A good indic­ation of suc­cess was the com­ments after­wards and ques­tion peri­od that las­ted for about 15 minutes. The worst thing that can hap­pen at the end of a present­a­tion is that every­one sits there with a dead­pan, bored expres­sion on their faces.

So I was brim­ming with an over­whelm­ing sense of suc­cess and good­will as I made my way to the book sign­ing table where a crowd had already lined up. Then it happened; about sev­en signed cop­ies along.

As I looked up at this big, middle-aged, bald­ing guy with a pony tail I asked, “Who should I make it out to?” And he answers, “Rick James!” I did a double take and replied, “No, that’s me, the author, I mean, what’s your name?”

Rick back in the 1970s before he developed his pub­lished author per­sona.

Rick James!” he declared again. “Don’t you remem­ber me from the old days in Victoria? How could ya for­get, I mean, we not only have the same name…” And con­tin­ues in an overly loud voice, “Oh man! We even used to smoke dope togeth­er at Keith’s place on Burdett back in the early 70s!”

Thankfully most of the folks around the table were old friends or work col­leagues who were prob­ably already aware of my past. Still, I could tell some people were startled. You know, the strangers I had man­aged to con­vince over the past hour that I should be looked upon as a respect­able West Coast mari­time his­tor­ian and writer. Who knows what they thought after the oth­er Rick James fin­ished talk­ing?

So there you go, no mat­ter how well pre­pared – and groomed – a per­son is for a book sign­ing, some­thing totally unex­pec­ted can still bring you to back to real­ity with a jolt.

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2 Responses to Preparing to launch Part 3 — guest blog by Rick James

  1. Kim Tracey says:

    I would not have recog­nized you. Our past does catch up to us some­times!

  2. Kim Stubblefield says:

    Wow Rick, now you have let the cat out of the bag. I like your pic­ture from the ‘70s.

    I must read this book of yours about the sea.…

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