The Human Script: Book Launch

The Human Script: Book Launch

Event: The Human Script Paperback Launch

Venue: The Betsey Trotwood

Report by Eleanor Baggley

Earlier this week, on a rather blustery Tuesday night, I found myself in Farringdon heading to the Betsey Trotwood (a sufficiently literary venue), for the paperback launch celebration of Johnny Rich’s novel, The Human Script. Having not read the novel but finding myself thoroughly intrigued by the premise, I was particularly looking forward to hearing more about it. I was not disappointed.

The changing face of publishing

The event was co-hosted by BookSmoke and the novel’s publisher, Red Button Publishing. Red Button’s aim is to support innovative and worthwhile books which are often overlooked. This year they began rolling out their paperback programme which will see their previously digital-only catalogue available in print.

A captive audience at the Human Script launch

A captive audience at the Human Script launch

Responding to a question from the audience, Rich requested a show of hands of the people who prefer a physical book to an ebook and vice versa – unsurprisingly physical books took a strong lead. Although Rich strongly believes that ‘a book isn’t the format; a book is the words’, it must surely be a wonderful feeling to know that there is a whole new audience out there waiting to discover The Human Script.

The Human Script was written, as Rich puts it, ‘last century’ whilst he was studying for his MA in Creative Writing at UEA. After spending eighteen months reading and researching, he had every chapter planned by the first day of his course. Initially, the novel could not find a publisher but, thanks to the changing industry, Rich’s ‘book under the bed’ was introduced to audiences in 2013.

The Human Script

Rich was a warm and personable reader. I always appreciate when authors throw themselves into an event, and he certainly did.

The extracts we heard clearly demonstrated the breadth of the novel. We heard a mixture of character-led and idea-led scenes which gave the listeners a real taste of the novel as a whole. Rich joked that he ‘could have written a philosophical tract, but it wouldn’t have been good or interesting’. He emphasised the importance of story when writing about such a wide range of themes and ideas and I doubt I’m alone in feeling pleased that he’d not gone down the philosophical tract route.

The is BookSmoke's 'Book of The Year'

The is BookSmoke’s ‘Book of The Year’

I found myself itching to read the novel more and more as the evening progressed. The questions from the audience and the event’s host, Alex, were thought-provoking and allowed Rich to dig a little deeper into his writing process and the ideas that are central to the novel. Conversation ranged from science and religion to free will, and from the concept of nature versus nurture to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

It was particularly interesting to hear about Rich’s inspirations and influences. Aside from Douglas Adams, Rich told us that the Bible and Hamlet were huge influences on this novel and, in fact, references to these and various other books can be found throughout. It is a self-proclaimed postmodern novel and clearly has much to thank its literary forefathers for.

As a final remark I think it’s important to note that the novel’s title is actually an anagram. Rich was careful not to let slip and I can’t figure it out, so I guess the only solution is to read it. Thankfully, after tonight’s discussions, I’ll be glad to.

By Eleanor Baggley

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