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Are Book Readings worth doing?


Elgar with a copy of Walking into Alchemy by local Malvern Author Amelia Marriette. Image Angela Pulford.
Elgar with a copy of Walking into Alchemy. Image Angela Pulford.

Is it worth giving book readings? The short answer to this question is yes. It can be a good way to sell copies of one's book; that's one of the reasons, of course, but for me, it is all about making connections and being in the moment in the real world. There is a place for Zoom and Google Meet, it's easier, and one can talk to people many thousands of miles away; it's also better for the environment, but there is nothing like meeting people.


I always think of E.M. Forster and his book Howards End; he chose the two-word tagline "only connect" for his famous novel. I think as two-word taglines go, that's pretty profound. When I connect with someone who has read my book, I am always thrilled. An author is nothing without readers, just like an actor is dumb without an audience.

Admittedly most of us are connected all the time via the internet, and I am as addicted as the next person to social media, but such connections are what saccharine is to sugar, what a photograph is to the feeling of being with a friend or a loved one in the same room. Increasingly the battle between the two and the three-dimensional world becomes more and more intense.


I recently gave a book reading at the Coach House Theatre in my hometown of Malvern. This was an opportunity for me to explain more about my book Walking into Alchemy, which is about my forcing myself to encounter the real three-dimensional world when I really wasn't well enough to do so. I had to make myself do it. During my year of walking the same walk every week for a year in the hills and mountains of southern Austria, where I now live, I learnt that there is nothing like witnessing the real beauty and majesty of nature. Struggling up a huge hill and then further to the top of a mountain is life changing. Because you are filled with awe, raw emotion takes over, the endorphins surge through your veins, and something real, something chemical, happens within.

Walking the Q3 Paracelsus Walk in Carinthia, Austria
Walking the Q3 Paracelsus Walk in Carinthia, Austria

I was a Keeper of Art and a Curator for 18 years before I relocated to Austria. In the first few weeks of living here, I was being driven around to get my bearings; I realised when we were winding our way along a mountain pass that we were driving through a living painting – I had never seen such beauty. I asked to get out of the car because I knew that I was looking at the sublime power of the great outdoors, and I wanted to experience it at first-hand. I had only ever seen such views in a painting.

Amelia Marriette Working as Keeper of Art in Devon UK
Amelia Marriette Working as Keeper of Art in Devon UK

I enjoyed my book reading in Malvern very much because I was able, finally, after so many cancellations due to the pandemic, to connect with readers. Some people came to meet me because they had read the book and wanted to know more about the back story.

"I bought Amelia's book when it first came out, and it transported me – it made me pause, and I often re-read passages even now. I could actually hear the bird song, watch the stream, taste the snow and feel the air around me. My mind and heart stilled... Bliss."

Angela Shouler, Worcester, August 2022


Some people came because they had seen the press articles or seen the book reading advertised online and were curious.

"I found Amelia's book reading very enjoyable. Meeting the author and learning about her background, career path, and relocation to Austria was very inspiring. I can't wait to read the book!"

Jacqueline Forrester, Lymington, New Forest.


Some old work colleagues came from my days at the RSRE and from my work lecturing in Shakespeare Studies, which was a great surprise and very heart-warming.

"I got the book because I know that Amelia is a Shakespeare scholar, and I was impressed by the way she interweaves her thoughts on Shakespeare and the arts with her experience of walking in Austria, so I was intrigued to hear more about the whole project. She talked about her definition of alchemy and how it has transformed the way in which she regards the world, how all her senses were re-awakened during her weekly walks in beautiful Austria."

Angela Pulford of Malvern, former Editor of the Open University Shakespeare Society Magazine

A force for good in the world - Action for Happiness
A force for good in the world - Action for Happiness

I also made a potentially wonderful connection with a charity called Action for Happiness, because Dr David Williamson attended my talk and came up to me afterwards, urging me to contact his son Dr Mark Williamson. I had not heard of this charity, but I cannot tell you how happy I am that such a force for good in the world exists. I contacted them, of course, and I hope we can work together at some point. There is a link below if you want to learn more about them.


I was also able to talk about my next book, An Artist at War, which will be about my father, Leonard Eason, who lived in Malvern with his wife, Brenda Eason, who still lives in the town, from 1973 until his death in 2015.

Leonard Eason in Algiers 1946 en route to Austria and RAF Klagenfurt copyright Amelia Marriette.jpg
Leonard Eason in Algiers 1946 en route to Austria and RAF Klagenfurt copyright Amelia Marriette.jpg

My father was born in Surrey; he was conscripted into the RAF in 1943 with his twin brother John and then later posted to RAF Klagenfurt, which is very close to where I live in Austria. I will base my book on my father's superb handwritten diaries and exquisite watercolours. It was very helpful for me to put into words some of the ideas I have had about how I will approach writing the book, and some interesting questions from the floor are already providing me with food for thought. This was an unexpected outcome of the book reading and another reason why I think that if you are an author, it is worth biting the bullet – get yourself in front of an audience – I am sure you won't regret it!


Press Article by Clare Butler Malvern Gazette
Press Article by Clare Butler Malvern Gazette


Flash Sale click image or visit www.ameliamarriette.com/shop
Flash Sale click image or visit www.ameliamarriette.com/shop

LINKS




Walking into Alchemy is now in the top 600 Fitness through Walking category on Amazon.



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