Last week I attended the UK launch of Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde at Foyles bookshop. For two hours Jasper spoke to a packed gallery (it was standing-room only!) and regaled us with a humorous talk, interspersed with some short readings from his new novel, before opening it up to the audience for Q&A. Fforde comes across as a comedian doing stand-up, complete with opening gag to size up the room, which was an approach to a author event that I found worked exceptionally well. The talk was balanced between amusing and interesting and was engagingly entertaining enough for those attendees who were not already Fforde fans (i.e. my boyfriend, who is now even more interested in reading his books). Fforde was self-effacing, charming and exceedingly funny, of which I had no doubt considering the wittiness of his work. Moreover, he also provided insightful commentary into his new book whilst reading us extracts; it was clear that Fforde doesn't enjoy reading aloud and I think he has handled this aversion in the best possible way, by playing to his strengths. The Q&A ranged from his new work; existing work; future work; writing style, routine, influences; film adaptations; he answered all with humility and hilarity and a very fun evening was had.
Of the author events I have enjoyed so far, Fforde can be best compared to Neil Gaiman, who is also memorable; in contrast, Gaiman is an assured and eloquent orator but both writers are very enjoyable speakers and the most charismatic authors I have yet met. Each of these authors' events are successful, in my mind, because they both appear to enjoy them and fully engage with their fans; I have always had the utmost respect for Neil Gaiman's work ethic when it comes to signings and the way he repays his fans' support; I am pleased to discover that Jasper Fforde is of a similar mindset to one of my other favourite authors. If you are also a fan of Jasper Fforde then I would highly recommend attending any of his signings if you ever have the chance to do so; he is very friendly when signing and also provides promotional postcards and, in the instance of Shades of Grey, a special stamp (as seen above).
What do you enjoy about book signings? If you haven't had a chance to attend one, which writer would you love to meet in person and what would make a successful signing for you?