Last night, for the third time, I was part of a book launch event. The previous two were for the Rhondda Cynon Taf Libraries’ Awen – Inspirations anthology series; this one was my turn to be part of the University of Winchester’s Litmus legacy. This yearly release showcases the work of the graduating MA classes, and may be a first step to stardom for some of the writers.
Like the previous two launches, I did a reading as part of the event. When in Pontypridd to read my stories ‘Senghenydd’ and ‘Aberfan’, I declined to attempt the accent of the setting – dw i’n gallu siarad Cymraeg eitha da, but I still can’t do a decent Welsh accent when speaking English.
Last night I learned I can’t do an American accent either. My story ‘Chasing the Sunset’ is set in a dystopian Georgia, so I practised my English Guy Does Deep South voice, a la Stephen Moyer in True Blood and Andrew Lincoln in The Walking Dead. But there’s a reason those guys make the big bucks and I don’t.
I wasn’t to trying to sound like a cowboy, although I may have ended up sounding like someone born of the unholy union betwixt man and bovine. I was going for somewhere in between Forrest Gump and K-Billy’s Sounds of the Seventies; I think the end result was closer to the former, and a pretty bizarro version of that. I kept my held buried in the book to avoid seeing anyone’s reactions.
Those that did react found it comical, when it’s supposed to be a serious story; but I’m cool with that. (Pretentious statement alert!) I think the writer serves as a conduit in these things, and it’s for each audience member to apply their own meanings to it. And at least my current works in progress are set in Southampton and Portsmouth respectively, so I won’t have this problem again: more a case of ‘write how you speak’ than ‘write what you know’.
Anyway it’s great to be in another book, and even better to be there alongside so many friends. May we all find ourselves back in print, time and time again.