Matthew Munson: Confessions of Pen-Gate

Matthew may have 'borrowed' a pen after the book signing Photo AjayW Photos

I have a confession to make. I stole a pen. From a library, a publicly-funded library.

There’s a reason for it, I should say; I’m forgetful. I really am, very much so, and I first forgot I needed a pen and then forgot I’d got it. The bizarre thing is, I should have known I needed to supply my own in the first place.

The reason Pen-Gate occurred in the first place was as a result of a book signing I was hosting at Broadstairs Library. I arrived and realised that I had brought nearly all the essentials. I had the books, some loose change, advertising material, a table (supplied by the library – I don’t go lugging one round on my back, although I’d be intrigued to try one of these days), and that was about it. I did not possess, however, a pen. Well, that’s a slight lie; I have plenty of pens, but they were all at home, and I most assuredly wasn’t.

Book signing

Thankfully, the library staff took immediate charge and furnished me with a selection of pens (what service) which I alternated between during the signing because I like to mix things up slightly. I was pleasantly busy during the two hours of the signing, with about 35 people turning up to talk (and buy) books, which was incredibly thrilling. Thanet’s always been a bit of a hotbed for science-fiction fans, I always thought, and now I find that out to be true; great, more people like me!

We actually over-ran by about 45 minutes in the end because I was busy talking to people and ranting about … well, whatever particularly took my fancy at the time. Mostly, though, I was just enjoying the atmosphere of talking to people about writing, life, the universe, and whatever else came up.

Stop thief!

Eventually, though, we had to depart, and I put the pen I had in my back pocket. It wasn’t until I got home that I realised I hadn’t returned said item to the library staff, thus turning me into a common or garden-variety thief. And after the library provided so much hospitality to me in the first place.

I shall, of course, be flagellating myself in horror at the next available opportunity (I think I have half an hour free on Thursday afternoon), and owning up to my terrible crime at the earliest opportunity. Whether the library staff have even noticed my thieving ways or not depends on how many of them read this paper, of course.


All that said, the book signing itself was a brilliant couple of hours (well, nearly three, in the end, but only because I can talk for England when I need to), with so many people coming out to support me and buy my book (Elysium’s Shadow, in case you were wondering, available directly from my publisher or all those fandangled other sites like Amazon and … oh, who knows, but it’s out there now). It was such a genuinely lovely opportunity to meet fellow readers who are passionate about what they want to read and who wanted to support a local author.

Science fiction a guilty pleasure? Drop the word guilty, and then you might be on to something. In the meantime, does anyone have a pen I could borrow?