It was a tranquil evening at Unity Books Wellington.
A little too tranquil…….
A large crowd had slowly begun to assemble in the aisles of the bookstore. There was an atmosphere of polite expectation bordering on regular, emotionally-unspecific expectation. The crowd appeared to be waiting. But waiting for what?
The automatic doors slid open, and a lone man stood, silhouetted in the doorway. He was wearing a light beige overcoat, and his curls fluttered gently in the breeze, like a crisp packet in an abandoned parking-garage. He had the embattled face of a civil servant who had once dabbled in comic fiction and had found it difficult to extricate himself.
But this was no ordinary civil servant. This was Danyl McLauchlan, and tonight was his book launch.
The crowd had gathered to attend the launch for Danyl’s second novel Mysterious Mysteries of the Aro Valley, the sequel to Unspeakable Secrets of the Aro Valley, both published by Victoria University Press.
Fergus Barrowman kicked off the evening by reminiscing about Danyl fixing his computer many years ago and referenced a recent interview Danyl had done with the Listener in which he said that he had dodged the curse of the difficult second novel by just writing his first novel again.
Elizabeth Knox launched the book, comparing it to a well turned compost patch, and saying it had ‘more plot than a cemetery.’ She said the book was lively, forceful and thematically shapely. She described it as a novel of ideas, and she was filled with admiration at the way Danyl had managed to ‘go beyond type.’
Danyl spoke briefly and thanked his family, publisher and editors. He said that if his book contained any semblance of emotional maturity it was down to Elizabeth Knox, and that Ashleigh Young had added a depth of subtlety to the book with her editing. He thanked his daughter, who, when solicited for plot advice told him he should ‘put a monster in it.’
photos © Matt Bialostocki // words by Aro_ghost1981