Liam Rudden: Meet and greet turns to theatre

Stephen Fry. Pic: Comp
Stephen Fry. Pic: Comp
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AS a writer, other authors have always fascinated me. From what dark recess of their mind do they draw their more sinister plots. How do they breathe life into their more outlandish characters? In short, what is their process?

The first best-selling author I saw on stage was Hanif Kureishi. The venue was the Royal Lyceum and afterwards Hanif met his readers, signed copies of his new book at the time (The Black Album), and happily chatted about My Beautiful Laundrette - still a classic movie in my view.

Until then, most author events I’d attended had been hosted by bookshops - usually on Princes Street or George Street. On one occasion I recall attendees being herded into a dimly lit basement with a glass of wine, to join Des O’Connor as he promoted his newly published autobiography. It was clear there were at least two regulars (wonderfully dotty and tipsy old dears) who were only there for the free wine dished out at these events.

Of course, such signing events are nothing new, and a sure fire way of guaranteeing extra sales. Many of my generation may remember queueing as kid to get their Doctor Who book signed by the then incumbent, Tom Baker. Thousands turned up at John Menzies and queued for hours just to met the towering actor, who arrived late... after a lunch that may or may not have been of the liquid variety.

Target books made a killing that day.

Today, publishers have taken these events to a new level, as a look at the Festival and King’s Theatre’s programming attests.

Over the next month I’m looking forward to seeing both Stephen Fry and Michael Palin, basically... well, sell their latest books - albeit with a much grander presentation than those meet and greets of yesteryear.

They may be multi-media feasts of memories and anecdotes, but I reckon most people still go for the chance to meet the writer/celebrity in the flesh. Still nothing beats a good read.