The Erratics Book

Launching The Erratics, by Vicki Laveau-Harvie

I love the idea of launching a book – not in the sense of hurling it forward with a view to annihilating something or somebody, but in the gentler sense of setting it afloat.

I think of the Grand Bassin pond in Luxembourg Gardens in Paris where I sometimes took my children to play several decades ago. It was reserved for toy sailboats, and toddlers would place their craft gently on the surface of the water and guide them with little sticks. I would give the park attendant a coin to rent one of the metal chairs around the edge of this idyllic tableau and sit, planning dinner.

I’m sure that Luxembourg Gardens have changed much since the last time I was there, but that is the peaceful image in my head as I think of launching my memoir.

On the night, however, reality is a little different. Picture this.

It is a dark and stormy night in Sydney. (Really, it is.) I have a big cold, Murphy’s Law, and I am thinking perhaps I should spray Dettol on any attendees before they leave. I remind myself not to kiss anybody.

As we walk from the car to the venue, I decide not to worry any more about the relatively small size of the room allocated to the launch because I am sure nobody will come out in this weather. Rex Finch, the publisher, and his people will be there, the lovely Caroline Baum who is launching the book for me will be there, my partner and my family will come, but beyond that …

To my surprise, almost everyone who reserved tickets attends. The atmosphere is warm and relaxed, there is wine on the bar and cheese on platters, and people crowd into the book-lined room when we begin. They are standing close together, but that is a plus. It keeps the chill away from everybody.

Rex Finch speaks first, sets the stage and leaves us to it.

My interviewer is a consummate professional, alive with insight and intelligence. She asks me to begin by reading the first pages of The Erratics, to give the audience a flavour of the thing. In my memory, there is a lot of laughter as I read - a reaction I didn’t dare hope for, and I am immensely gratified to be reading to a roomful of people who are attuned to the humour in the difficult situation I have written about.

Caroline Baum and I then have a discussion which remains in my mind as a conversation between new friends, both enamoured of the writing process and the sometimes unlikely places it takes you.

There are questions from the audience, and one from my little granddaughter, sitting on the floor in the front. Caroline tells me afterward that it was a good question. She then looks shrewdly at me and says she doesn’t think my answer was very good. She’s not wrong.

Books are sold and I sign them, buoyed by a current of affection and good will: to my old friends, my new friends, people I am meeting for the first time, and important people in my life, like my cancer surgeon, who have taken the time and the trouble to come.

I have more fun at my launch than I ever imagined I would. It is in some ways the exact antithesis of the writing process, as a wise writer friend of mine said to me, but it is a wonderful by-product.

I will carry this evening in my heart, always.

The Erratics Launch in Pictures

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