This fine Monday morning (is that… could it be… do I see sunshine?!) I am treating you, dear blog readers, to a very funny blog post by bestselling author Mark Hayes. (I know. The pyramid stack of Ferrero Rocher will be coming out next.) Like a certain highly caffeinated girl who likes pink, Mark is another twenty-something Corkonian who left the grey skies of Ireland to pursue what some might say are fanciful dreams in the States, even eventually writing a book about it—only he went to LA, his dreams involved getting his sitcom made and he appears to have far more manageable hair than I do. (Although LA is technically in the desert, isn’t it? So it’s not like he had humidity challenges.) Mark began blogging about his experiences, and was soon approached by an Irish publisher about turning that blog into a book. The result, RanDumb: The Random Dumb Adventures of an Irish Guy in LA hit #1 on the Amazon.com humor charts, and at time of writing has eighty-four glowing five star reviews on there.
Now Mark has just released the follow-up, Randumb-er: The Continued Adventures of an Irish Guy in LA. In the extract he’s treating us to today, he describes the, er, “magic” of finally seeing a book you wrote on the shelves…
Even though RanDumb was released into the open a while back and was now running free like a demented headless chicken, I had yet to see or hold a copy. Publishers told me to go check it out. In all the bookstores. Mighty. At least that’s one dancing plus! Particularly since as far back as I can remember – about nine months – it has always been a dream of mine to be a published author. Ever since my buddy Dave Buckley asked me one day on Facebook chat:
‘You’re obviously going to turn your blog into a book, are ya?’
Hmm. Now there’s an idea… Finally, after all that time, I was now going to see my first ever book on the bookshelves of a real-life bookstore! Mighty. Also a bit strange, I imagine. Anyway, first shop I try: Waterstones. Favourite bookstore growing up. Seriously never imagined that I’d have a book in here one day. This is going to be kind of cool! I wonder where it might be? Mosey around by the front window. New releases – No sign of it. Tut. Disappointing. Check in memoirs – Nothing. Hmmm. Comedy? No. What the funk? Alphabetical order? No sign of me? Where the sweet Jesus is it? Publishers said it was definitely out!
By now my ideal situation – me walking into the shop, seeing my book all over the shelves everywhere, posters on the windows, the whole place just plastered in RanDumb – was clearly not happening. At least I wouldn’t have to deal with the horde of people freaking out when they realised that it was me on all those posters. So at least that was avoided. My scenario was at the other end of the scale: No sign whatsoever that my book even existed. Only one thing to do. Time to be chump. Queue up in line with everyone else. And ask if they have it…,
“Hi, just wondering if you have a book called RanDumb in stock? New book. Just out. I hear it’s mighty. Ha ha.” (wink)
Cashier checks her computer. Looks at the screen. Looks at me. Squints at the screen. Back to me.
“Is that you?”
“Ha, yeah. It’s my book. That’s me on the cover.”
Mark (left) sees the finished product for the first time—in a loading dock. Oh, the glamour!
For some reason saying this brought weird embarrassment. As if I needed to be on the cover so people would believe it’s me? Not too sure.
“You wrote a book?”
“Yeah. Managed to pop one out of me. Do ye have it in store?”
“No, not meant to be in for another month or so it says here. Who told you it was out?”
“My publishers. Sweet Jesus, they’re brutal. That’s why I’m back in Ireland. Book tour, book launch, you know yourself, all terribly exciting. Kind of.”
“I’ll pass on the message that it’s out now so, if you like?”
“Yeah that’d be grea- ”
Shouts to another cashier across the room,
“GERALDINE! This guy says he wrote a book. Claims it’s out now but we’re not meant to get in until next month. Should I order it sooner or will I bother?”
Sounds like I’m shopping for a new brand of tampons. Mighty. Either way, Geraldine doesn’t care. Shrugs her shoulder.
“I’ll order it sooner so. Should be here next week maybe. Come back then. Congratulations too. Must be very exciting to be a new author. Well done!”
“Yeah. Thanks. It’s better than I ever dreamed. Well I never really dreamt about being an author growing up but I suppose I would’ve imagined it that you’d be treated the same as a Greek God or a Roman Emperor – like Zeus or Augustus Caeasar, that kind of thing. You know, people would serve you grapes and fan you with palm leaves and you just stroll around in your toga, half naked bodies everywhere, all because you’re now a published author and your book’s on shelves. That’s how I imagine Iwould’ve imagined it I suppose. Living the wonderful life of an author. Amazing! Although my book is quite clearly not yet on the shelves, so maybe that’s why all that hasn’t happened yet. Ha ha, I think I’m rambling, what did you say your name was – Fionnuala. OK so Fionnuala. I’ll be off. I’ll call in again next week. You should read it as well. In fact, EVERYONE HERE SHOULD!”
Big hand gesture to the room. And then I got the funk out of there. Left feeling a tad chumpish. Walking aimlessly down the main street in Cork. Yearning for some grapes. That went well. Bloody publishers. Cluelessness grows by the day it seems. Imagining people having a right old laugh at me as they walk by me on the street. Ah funk ye all!
All right, cop on. Not to be deterred: I’ll try Eason’s up the road. Subtly make my way in. Head down, collar up kind of approach this time. Nothing in the window. Nothing at the front. Nothing in the middle. Tut. Wander down the back. Past the pens and school supplies. Irish section. Scan the shelves. Nada. Should I ask this girl who works here if they have it in stock? Probably not. Funk it, just ask her,
“Sorry, just wondering if ye have- Oh you don’t work here? My bad, apolog- ”
And then I saw.
Third row of a double sided shelf in the middle of the aisle, opposite side of the shelf facing out. My face. My book. A part of my soul! On a bookshelf. Available to buy. In a real life bookstore! A day I’ve dreamt about for a full nine months. A moment I imagined would be pretty mighty ever since I first started writing the book. It’s my book! I’m on the cover! Oh Betsy! Success!!! Picked it up. Jesus. Feels beautiful. Hand vortex that almost drove me fully mental. You little dancer. Opened a page. Flicked through. Smelt the book. Unreal. Took a longer one. Even better. (New book smell is savage!) Looked at the cover again. Then the back. Another smell. Face buried between the pages. Hmm. What should I do now? Actually, no – I know. Time to take a photo of me and my book. Proof! Out with my camera. Subtle self-portrait snap. Horrendous photo. Who cares?! OhsweetLord: Thisisamazing! Duu!
Look around. Chuffed. See who I could share my joy with. Few old people staring at bookshelves. One really old guy just looking at the wall,
“High five lads! Look, my book! Although actually, how come it’s on the third shelf down. One away from the bottom shelf. Almost on the floor. That’s not so amazing now is it?”
Interrupted by a girl who actually works in the shop,
“Are you OK?”
“Oh yeah, I’m OK, not lost, thanks. Just came in to see a book. Ha-ha, yeah, that’s my book. Just out. You should definitely read it. Oh you’re busy, no worries, cheers, thanks.”
My brief minute of joy came plummeting back down to earth. Makes me very self-aware.Next set of emotions are weird. Back away from the book. Fear of being caught out – Fraud! Fear of people not liking it – Whures! I wonder if anyone here has read it already? What if they didn’t like it? I know: If people like it, I’ll take full credit. If not, dodge on. Deny I know anything about it. Call me Peter. Hmm. How about I just lurk here and listen? See if anyone says anything about it. OH MY GOD WHY DID I WRITE A BOOK!?! I silently scream while nodding at the old man now slowly shuffling past me. Next emotion is pure annoyance. Inner me and outer me start to go at it,
“Brand new release!”
“How come it’s not up the front?”
“Why is it back here in the… Travel Section?”
“Can you not just be happy?!”
“Although in fairness, you’re right, it is hidden down the back here.”
“Well then grow some balls and get it moved up the front!”
Find a different girl who works in the shop. Slightly older lady this time. Far more excited about the fact that it’s my book and I’m now in the shop,
“How can I help you, Mr. Hayes?”
“Well, just wondering if you could maybe move RanDumb up to the front of the store? Window display perhaps?”
“Of course we can, Mr. Hayes!”
Sound-Lady grabs a basket. Throws every copy of RanDumb into it.
Let’s just move this Dan Brown one over here.
Sorry Russell Brand, you’ve got to go too.
This Corkonian needs his room to shine.”
Makes my book the most prominent of all. Turns to me,
“How does that look now for you Mr. Hayes?”
Upper middle row of the front shelf in the store.
Eye line territory. Golden grail. You’re too kind!”
“Could I have a photo with you next to the book? Can I call you Mark?”
“Ha. Of course. I insist!”
Strolled out feeling a lot more pumped up than Waterstones. Wave goodbye to everyone. Sound-Lady waves back. Chest puffed out like a rooster. Start getting my cock-a-doodle-duu strut on. Stevie Wonder’s Superstition starts playing in my head. Slight twirl as I walk down the street. Fingers clicking along. What a mighty day! Feel someone tapping me on the arm,
Some randumb younger girl holding out my book,
“Here, is this you?”
Maybe not so bad being on the cover after all.
“Yeah, it is! Da-da dung-dung da-da-diddle-dung, da-dung dung dung duu- Pardon?”
“Will you sign it for me?”
Thought it was a wind-up. Surely. Don’t think I’ve signed an autograph before. Checked. Looked around. Any candid cameras? No. OK. Seems legit. Took out my lucky pen. Wonder what I should write? Well, my name, of course. Signed that. Rambled out some more gibberish as a personal message:
“What a mighty dayaduuu for you! Book on!!! – Mark Hayes”
Could’ve done with tipex. Fun times though. Book groupies. Or broupies, as I now call them. They exist! Finish my gibberish message. Hand the book back to the girl. Corner of my eye I see the Sound-Lady from Eason’s running down the street. Shouting out,
“You have to pay for that!”
Girl runs off. Book in hand. Gone. Leaves me standing dumb.
“Why didn’t you stop her?”
“Pardon? What do you mean?”
“She just stole your book. What were you doing, you had it in your hands?!”
“I was, eh, signing it for her. Sorry. I didn’t know.”
Now-Not-So-Sound-Lady rolls her eyes. Walks away, shaking her head. Final thing I hear her mutter…,
So I go back and pay for the stolen book. Wuu. More of a muted walk out of me now.Superstition only being hummed quietly. Checked a few more bookstores on the way back to my car. Some had it. Others weren’t getting it in until next month. Good work by the publishers it seems. Confusing people is a great way to sell the book! Not to worry though. I’m sure it’s going to get mightier from here on in. Come Monday I’ll be on my book tour. Ha. Time to tell everyone about the world’s newest literary classic. Pretty soon I’ll be selling millions. People clamouring to read it. All in awe of my unique writing style. Betsy! Can’t wait. Finally. Delighted. Now everything’s going to be absolutely perfect! I’ve made it – Haven’t I? Right? Yeah? Wuu!