I Came. I Shook. I Read.
by Fran Friel


Above is a pic of me, scary Fran on the right, with the beautiful Elizabeth Monteleone, Mistress of Borderlands Press. This was snapped shortly before I did my first public reading ever. Visiting with the lovely Ms. E helped to calm my nerves. She's a delight.

Ironically, Tom Monteleone, the mistress's bo and author/reader/teacher/publisher extraordinaire, was supposed to read right after me in the same room. I thought I had it made - his fame would bring in the early-bird crowd looking for seats for his reading and I'd have a nice captive audience for my own reading. Best laid plans, and all that...didn't happen. They changed the schedule, and Tom was reading at the SAME time as I. I figured I was doomed to read alone to the dreaded dust bunnies, but a number of wonderful folks showed-up for my reading partner, Jacob Haddon, and I.

There were twenty people or so there, and Jacob read first. He was wonderful. He had us laughing, ooo-ing and awe-ing at his stories. With his relaxed style and great voice, he had a wonderful rapport with the audience and kept us all entertained and very happy. He was also pretty easy on the eyes, I must say. Then it was my turn.

I'm one of those weird people who actually like public speaking, but my body often responds with a different attitude by making my hands shake like I'm a cornered rodent. So I began my reading with those shaking hands, trying to steady them against the table so no one could see the pages quaking. Plus, Jacob had done such a great job getting the audience jazzed up with the excellent humor in his stories, I was a little worried about taking folks to the darkside with a fairly lengthy excerpt of my very wicked novella, MAMA'S BOY, but I plunged on.

I read parts of the story with an outrageous and questionable southern accent and eventually my public speaking "ham gene" kicked in and it all started to work. I could feel the audience finally connect with the story, laughing in the wicked places and being appalled into still silence at others. I read for a good twenty minutes and only lulled one audience member to sleep, but it was Sunday, the last day of the party that was Horrorfind, so I guess he needed a rest...and I did start by saying I was going to read them a bedtime story. I'll have to remember to omit that comment on my next reading. In the end, the audience seemed very pleased with the reading. Several folks congratulated me and asked how to get a copy of MAMA'S BOY. They wanted to know how it ends. Of course, that made me very happy.

Having my dear Horror Library friends, Boyd Harris and Chris Mahn there made it much easier (Steve Sommerville was still at ground control, manning the sales table). They'd indulged me in listening while I practiced the night before, as well. Their feedback was invaluable. I was also honored to have many of my Shocklines and MySpace friends there, as well. Norman Prentiss was like a beam of light keeping me steady during my reading. Deb Kuhn, Nick Grabowsky, Charles, Cara, Shawn and Cara's brother, Creepy, and the RavenCon folks, and many other kind people made it a fun reading to do. As I told them, I'll never forget them for coming to my very first reading.

With the help of my lovely assistant, Boyd Harris, we also did a juicy drawing for Shocklines gift certificates and some great issues of Insidious Reflections. The audience definitely liked that extra touch, so I'll be sure to do that again next year! Hint, Hint...I hope you come, even if I have to bribe you.

So, it was a fruitful event. I learned a lot and I met many wonderful people that I've known only in cyberspace (that includes you Mr. Rainey!). It was a joy to be with them in the "meat world" at last. Thanks everyone for your support before I headed off to my fate at Horrorfind. Your kindness and the support in advance, plus all the folks there, made my first Horrorfind and my first reading a blast!

Btw, MAMA'S BOY is rockin' the pre-order! I hope you'll nab a copy and let me know what you think of my wicked little tale. Looks like we're going to sell-out during the pre-order, so I hope you'll grab one now. It's a signed limited edition, with darn spiffy looking interior art and a wild read...or so I'm told. Check it out at Insidious Publications and at Shocklines.com.

I'd be happy to inscribe it to you personally if you want to send it along to me. Just contact me and we'll work out the details.

Wickedly Yours,
Fran Friel

PS - A special thank you to the kind and oh-so-lovely Nikki, for making the readings a smooth and cool experience. You're the Queen of Cool, Nikki!