by Gale Albright
The big show, otherwise known as the book launch for Murder on Wheels, an anthology of crime stories authored by Austin Mystery Writers and friends, will take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night, August 11, at BookPeople.
So, pretend it’s early Monday morning and I’m setting the scene for the big show. My main thought right now is not, “Will I read beautifully in front of an audience?” or “Will there be an audience?” or “Do I need to take some crackers and cheese down there?” but should I get a manicure with (sigh) painted fingernails?
I guess Stephen King and David Baldacci don’t worry about manicures before they show up at a book launch, but what about those big-time female authors–Meg Gardiner, Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton and so forth? I’ll bet no interviewer has ever asked them about their fingernails.
That would probably fall under the category of a sexist question that reporters sometimes ask female politicians. We’ve seen that scenario play out many times on television when dense reporters ask women candidates about their lipstick instead of their foreign policy. So, forget fingernails. One must think about relevance and art and writing routines and other lofty things, not cheese and crackers and nail polish.
I’m rambling here on Saturday night, preparing to take a shower to wash off biting insects and mosquito repellent from watering the yard in Austin’s summer inferno. It’s like walking out in the desert, complete with hot wind whipping around at 8 p.m. Why do I live here? It’s nice in the winter. Oh, and we need rain, even though we were almost flooded from too much rain in May and June. I live in an unbalanced place.
If you’ve read this far, you might be thinking, where’s the damn mystery stuff? This is just a silly jumble about nail polish, desert winds, crackers, and mosquito repellent.
Yes, you are right. I’m just a wee bit nervous about this incipient maiden book launch. Murder on Wheels has taken up much of our time and energy and creativity for the last couple of years. We’ve gone from a spark of an idea to a traditionally published book to a book launch, complete with booze, a cake–maybe something salty on the side–at BookPeople, where the big boys and girls go when they tour through Austin. It’s exciting. It’s scary. It’s a big deal, this big show.
Sometimes thinking about silly little things takes my mind off the big stuff. Has that ever happened to you? I am also trying to hydrate to prevent heat exhaustion, decide what shoes to wear, make sure everything’s washed, fix my hair and select earrings. I can handle the art and relevance and witty patter just fine. I’m not afraid of audiences. Show me an audience and I will go into an improvisational routine at the drop of a hat. I learned to do that at a tender age when I sang and danced for ladies at my aunt’s beauty shop in East Texas. I was the entertainment and did fancy patter, dance steps, and songs for bubble gum.
But what will they think about my nail polish?
Who are these folks? (clockwise) Kaye George, Laura Oles, Scott Montgomery, Kathy Waller, Gale Albright, Valerie Chandler, Reavis Wortham, Kaye George, Earl Staggs–the eight writers who made Murder on Wheels what it is. And Kaye George is in there twice because it was her idea in the first place.