I've done it! What a relief. And I didn't stutter, pant, faint, freeze, bumble, fall over or lose my place!
Fiona Stephens, who arranged the whole thing and who was there to welcome me at the Daffodil and settle me in, was lovely. The Daffodil is a sympathetically converted 1920s cinema. http://www.thedaffodil.com/ I've been there to eat several times, and once for a wedding, but quite a few years ago. Doing my 'turn' there, reminded me what a lovely venue it is, and we've resolved to go more frequently in future.
I was accompanied by Geoffrey, my husband, who was charged with taking a few pics. We were given refreshments, a glass of wine for me, which helped settle the nerves, and a coffee for him. It had started to rain heavily, thankfully after we arrived, so some of my audience arrived wet and flurried.
The truly wonderful tea was served. Each table was brought their own tower of sandwiches, cakes and scones, plus a pot of tea. It looked scrumptious, I'd loved to have joined them, but I was far to tense to eat a thing.
I wasn't 'on' till the majority had finished their tea. To begin with I gave a short account of my own writing 'journey' plus an over-view of the changes in publishing since I was first published. I didn't read from chapter one of TORN, and I explained why to my audience. As it is an account of a violent, drunken altercation, with the unexpurgated language you might expect, I thought it an unsuitable passage to read out loud, in the afternoon, to tea drinking ladies in Cheltenham! Instead I read a short intro - a sketch of the back-story and the events leading up to my excerpt, which was taken from a few chapters in. The excerpt was about 15 mins long.
My husband says I was brilliant. I think we can take that with a pinch of salt. He was probably more nervous than I was and deeply relieved that I pulled it off, without embarrassing him or myself. I did a Q & A. There weren’t many questions, so I just rambled on and made sure I gave the RNA a plug.