Last Saturday, Austin’s favorite indie bookseller BookPeople hosted my launch celebration for Can I See Your I.D.? True Stories of False Identities. Here’s a recap of what we did:
The party was scheduled to start at 7 p.m., which in my experience means that a sufficient crowd had gathered by 7:10 for us to get rolling. Until then, there was much mingling, donning of the 30 pairs of Groucho Marx glasses I’d bought, and applying of “My Name Is” tags filled out with “Inigo Montoya,” “Cleopatra,” “Marc Zuckerberg,” etc.
To fill the time before the presentation started, audience members were encouraged to write down and submit their own tales of first-person fakery (“When I was about __ years old, I pretended to be/masqueraded as/tried to convince someone that I was ______________________________”) in return for getting into the running for one of three giveaway copies of the book.
As folks arrived, I pointed out the “conceptual beverages” — one dispenser containing a clearish liquid and labeled “Looks like watery lemonade to us” and another containing a bright blue liquid and labeled “Probably something blue-tasting.” The latter was just water with blue food coloring, while the former contained purported blueberry flavoring that some said tasted more like bubblegum or a Yankee Candle but which regardless got across the concept (I hope) of things not being what they seem.
Then BookPeople’s children’s-events coordinator extraordinaire Mandy Brooks —
— welcomed the crowd and introduced yours truly. “Chris Barton” approached the podium —
— and thanked the audience for their support of his previous two books. He then mentioned how glad he was that, unlike his previous launch parties, the attendees for this one included his best friend from high school, Dallas journalist “Jason Sickles,” seen emerging here:
At this point —
— “Jason” suggested to “Chris” that, since Can I See Your I.D.? is about false identities, perhaps it would be fun and fitting for them to switch roles for the rest of the night.
Thusly switched, “Chris,” or the author, or me, or whoever I am read excerpts from the Keron Thomas and Ellen Craft chapters of the book, was interviewed by Jason (or “Jason”) about subjects I considered but did not include in the book, my research process, writing in second person, and my shift from picture books to young adult.
After that, I chose the winners of the giveaway, which included one erstwhile would-be horse, one former 19-year-old who for reasons unfathomable to many of us had represented himself as being 21, and a not-quite-legit fairy princess whose ruse failed “when my wings fell off.”
A few questions were answered, a few books were signed —
— and off we all went into the night.