If you’ve ever talked to me at a book event and someone asked you to describe me later, you'd probably tell them I’m friendly, talkative, outgoing even. But, the truth is, I'm nothing like that at home. There's another side, one much less people-friendly. The other side of me, the state I revert back to after a book event, the person I am "when no one is watching", as they say, is Jekyll.
Unlike the characters in Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, my Jekyll and Hyde personalities are not morally distinct or good vs. evil. But, I see them as two very different sides of myself. The more retiring side, Author Jekyll, and the more personable side, Author Hyde.
One only comes out in select situations, like book events and other situations where I'm required to be "on". The other is who I am the rest of the time.
Who am I when I'm Author Jekyll? Quiet mostly. Author Jekyll usually hates crowded places and noise in general, is often cranky, and likes to be left alone to think and write.
Thank goodness for Author Hyde, right? And when did Author Hyde start?
Let us call this story The Sudden and Strange Appearance of Author Hyde.
I started doing author events last summer for the launch of my second book The Taming. I hadn't done any for my first book, simply because I'd have to get up and speak in front of a crowd.
In the lead up to my first reading, I was understandably nervous about being in front of people and answering questions. Public events of any kind have always made me nervous -- parties where I don’t know most of the people, work events, job fairs -- whatever the setting, I tend to stick close to the people I know. Unless I'm with people I'm very comfortable with, I usually only speak when I'm asked a question or really have something to contribute to the conversation.
Yes, I've been known to ride out uncomfortable silences, just to avoid being the one to speak first. In extreme situations, I usually cave though.
The only time any of this has been different is If I've had a few drinks, as is the case for most introverts. Of course, I’m not about to pound a few shots before an author event, just to smooth the transition. That's always struck me as an overall bad idea.
So, here I am about to go into my very first book event, nervous as hell. But then something strange happened. As my foot crossed the threshold of the bookstore, I felt a switch flip inside of me.
Ta da! Here comes Author Hyde!
Suddenly, I couldn't wait to get started. It didn't matter to me that there were only a few people there. I wanted to read, take questions, and get to know all of them.
Let me tell you, Author Hyde is a great person to be around. She's pleasant and talkative, happy to answer questions and make small talk. Hyde is the author you want to meet and get to know. And, above all, you want to buy her books.
Ever since that first event, Author Hyde has come out for every event I've had. That's a good thing, because without Author Hyde, I'd probably never want to do another event. I might not even be asked to do another event.
Author Jekyll, you see, is also very neurotic. Ask my spouse. The lead up to an event is super fun. Usually, I look forward to events initially but then dread them (and sometimes even moan) over the week leading up to them.
Awesome, right? Like I said, thank goodness for Author Hyde.
Even if you haven’t met me in person, you’ve probably seen Author Hyde on Facebook and Twitter. Hyde really comes alive on Facebook author groups, but is still working on finding her grove on Twitter.
Unfortunately, there's a downside to Author Hyde. She's draining.
Because Author Hyde is so far outside my normal state, I've found that I usually have to retreat to some place quiet to recharge after Author Hyde has had a long run. But, I’m alright with that. Some days, Author Hyde is all that keeps Author Jekyll in the game.
Without her, you’d just be left with the good old neurotic me.