Monday, June 27, 2016

Zombies versus ninjas!!!

Elizabeth and I have made it our unofficial mission on this trip to support local bookstores across Ireland. In every city. Sometimes multiple times.

I have been searching for a Frank O’Connor book for my Irish literature class paper and Elizabeth is, well, a librarian. Plus, just like the plot of any good novel, you never know what you might find in a bookstore.

A brilliant local bookstore in Kilkenny.
So in our first evening in Kilkenny last Thursday, we found our way into Stone House Books. As we were perusing, Elizabeth noticed the staff was preparing for a book launch. (I was so focused on scanning the shelves for that elusive O’Connor book, I’m embarrassed to say I missed the fact that many of the shelves had been moved aside to clear a large space and that there was a table of wine and soda – or fizzy drinks as they call it.)

It turns out this would be the site an hour later for the launch of the third book in a series called Zombies v. Ninjas, written by a local author who goes by R.A. Barnes.

Zombies against ninjas! Now this was worth further study. (As many of you know, I think it’s best to be prepared in case of a zombie apocalypse by having a “go” bag ready, by knowing the back routes out of town instead of getting stuck on a highway with everyone else and by keeping a crowbar in the car – it's swift, quiet and heavy enough to break zombie skulls.)

The trilogy on display. Go ninjas!
The clerk said the author was coming and there would be a brief reading. “You’re welcome to stop back if you’d like,” she said.

Of course we did.

When we returned, the store was full of people, including many in full karate uniforms. The author, R.A. Barnes, is actually a pseudonym used by Mark Turner, who also is a student at the Evolution Martial Arts Academy in Kilkenny. It appeared that the instructors and students at Evolution provided Turner with plenty of material for his characters. Several times during the reading, the students began buzzing and laughing when they figured out the inspiration behind a certain character.

The reading included a part about a hairdresser/martial arts student finds that one of her customers was a bit off – in this case, undead. I don’t want to spoil the craic (Irish for “fun”), but the scene in which Jane recounts to her fellow martial arts students how she dealt with Betty Malloy was quite funny. At one point, Jane pulls the evidence out of her duffle bag to show off to her fellow students. It caused a few to throw up or faint, which meant 50 “press-ups” for them – a line that got laughs from the martial arts students. 
The author signs a copy for his fans and fellow ninjas.

The man doing the reading, a local celebrity named Pat who does radio commercials, finished the scene with this line: “Jane looked at me with a crazy smile on her face, as if having an old lady’s severed head in her hands was great craic.”

Pat also praised Liz, the owner of Stone House Books, for her unwavering support of local writers and for weathering the recession that hit local book shops hard. So Elizabeth and I decided to buy several more books we had been eyeing, including Neil Gaiman’s re-imagining of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White that was immaculately illustrated by Chris Riddell, a novel by Donal Ryan (one of the new Irish writers I had heard great things about) and another book that will be a gift for Elizabeth’s best friend.

And of course, we bought the first book in the Zombie v. Ninjas series. (Hey, all the proceeds were going to help send the Evolution students to a competition next year in Florida.)

Plus, as Mark Turner/R.A. Barnes said: “It reassures me that if there is a zombie apocalypse – and there will be a zombie apocalypse – we are your only hope.”

P.S. – I think this had a profound effect on Elizabeth, who used to make fun of the crowbar. When I asked her if she’s more convinced about a zombie apocalypse, she actually said “maybe.”

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