Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Monday 24 June 2013

Shoes and Balloons

And... scene...

Thanks for your patience, and thanks to the husband for guesting on the blog. 

This is the longest break I’ve taken. It feels weird.

It felt weird not to write a blog every day, and now it feels weird to write one. It feels like beginning again, somehow.


We just got back from Dublin. It was fab! Black Library hasn’t done Black Library Live anywhere but GWHQ in Nottingham, but I’m rather hoping that they’ll make a habit of hosting events like the one at the Gresham Hotel in Dublin last weekend in other cities in the UK and Ireland, and, who knows, maybe even in Europe too.

We enjoyed ourselves, and I rather think that the ticket holders enjoyed themselves, too.

I signed stuff.

I sat on panels with such luminaries as Graham McNeill, Guy Haley and the husband, Dan Abnett. They were introduced as ‘Mr’... each of them, and all of them. I wasn’t introduced as Ms or Mrs... I wonder why not. I wonder if that might have been considered pointed. That was sort of weird, too.

Lots of things feel a bit weird when I’m coming off a bit of an episode, especially when the episode is recent and the ‘things’ are out of the normal range of life experience. I didn’t do much for a while before the event, so pretty well everything was outside my normal range of life experience for that week.

Of course, it’s part of my job to sign things and talk on panels, from time to time, but not all that often, and I’m still not really used to it, and I’ve never done it when I haven’t had total control of my head before.

Turns out, it doesn’t make a whole heap of difference.

Don’t ask me why, because I don’t know.

Some people get fearfully nervous. Some people need to take time out to prepare. Some people need to sit quietly in a darkened room, some need a lucky charm, a particular uniform, or a measure of dutch courage. Some like things structured in a certain way, or for the room to be the right temperature, some are put off by PA systems, some like to be able to walk about, and some like a barrier of some sort between themselves and an audience: a table or to be raised on a stage or platform.

I don’t much care. I’m pretty well at ease. I’m happy to admit ignorance when I don’t have a good or coherent answer to a question, I don’t mind contradicting  myself or other members of the panel, and I have no problem being put in my place. If someone’s come to see me speak, I just assume there’s a good chance he’s already on my side.

It’s about shoes and balloons, isn’t it? OK, you don’t know yet, because I haven’t explained it, but, you can trust me on this... it really is.

If someone says he's never owned a pair of shoes, it would be a lot of people’s instincts to give him a pair of shoes, but just because someone says he's never owned a pair of shoes doesn’t mean he’s asking for a pair of shoes. To give someone who says he’s never owned a pair of shoes a pair of shoes might well be a total waste. If someone has never owned a pair of shoes, there’s a good chance his feet are like old leather, and he probably has no need of a pair of shoes... 

On the other hand, if you give someone who has never owned a pair of shoes... well... for example... a balloon...

How cool is that?!

So, when it comes to being a person, when it comes to interacting with and talking to people, and when it comes to talking to readers and sitting on panels, that’s how it works. My  head is what it is, and it was ever thus, and it needs no gift of shoes. It has never had the benefit of shoes, and shoes are redundant now; there’s nothing that would comfortably fit, and it has grown its own thick skin, of sorts, instead. A balloon, though... A jolly, red balloon... is always very welcome!


  1. It was lovely to get to meet you at last, I knew that you'd been out of sorts and so was so pleased to see you there. It was the first proper Black Library event in Dublin and I do hope there will be more.

    You were as witty and charming as I expected and thank you for the insights to your writing process. It was nice to see you finally managed to sit in on one of The Husbands Panels :D

    P.S. Still can't get the idea of a Skaven sex guide out of my head.

  2. I'm sorry I missed this. Totally forgot about it until the last minute and then the weekend was full. Ah well, maybe next time.