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chesham library

It was a cold and wet Wednesday morning at the end of November in Chesham when the Steam, Smoke & Mirrors roadshow rolled in.

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Okay, not so much a roadshow, more some man dressed as a steampunk Music Hall magician with a few props and some notes, along with hot coffee and cakes, hoping to pass a really splendid hour with 25 readers at Chesham Library.

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The Chesham Library’s foyer display cabinet before we dressed it with eye-catching props.

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The Chesham Library’s foyer cabinet after we packed it with eye-catching props.

Some people said they preferred the cabinet when it was empty.


In truth, the 48 glorious cupcakes, kindly baked by my associate Angela, proved to be a far greater incentive for people to come in.

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The audience heard about my first job working on kids’ comic books, my years as a joke writer and then my latest incarnation as an author of detective mystery novels with a heavy Steampunk vibe.

They also learned of my huge passion for, and enormous gratitude to libraries. If it wasn’t for my local library fuelling my love of reading as a child, I would never have been inspired to attempt the career I’ve enjoyed for four decades. 

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Additionally, the crowd was subjected to my impersonations of performers of yesteryear.

“Ohh, ’ere, no, listen!”

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“Well, I don’t really know, Vera!”

At the end of the talk we held a free raffle. Whoever’s name was drawn out of the top hat would have a character named after them in

“Steam, Smoke & Mirrors III – The Nostradamus Curiosity”

which will be published in 2019.

And the winner was:

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Well done, Nigel.

Afterwards, apparently most of the people who came along later said it was ‘best chat by an author they’d heard at the Library’. (What they really said was ‘the best chat by an author they’d heard at the Library that day’)

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A disgruntled visitor tries to make off with Mr. Garrideb.

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While the author is caught outside trying to steal the sign.

Sincere thanks to everyone who came along to Chesham Library, to Library Manager Sally for taking a gamble and letting me loose on her readers and of course to Library Assistant Alice who organised and staged the event.  

There are more library talks planned for next year.

But most importantly, please support your local library!

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