How to deliver a presentation
This article was intended to be a one-off article reviewing this new book and capturing a few words from the author. In the same way as film-makers use a book as a base for a blockbuster movie, I have decided to turn this single episode into a mini series.
The book is wonderful, with high production values and obviously written and photographed by two men sympatico with each other and their subject matter. The Island of Volcanoes is not a title of the Jurassic Park model, designed to lure you into an idyllic sounding location only to find yourself then confronted by old T Rex himself. This is not a book about fleeing for your life from a lava flow or the sudden realisation that the house you have just bought is at the foot of a still living and breathing volcano.
The author has a love of and a good deal of understanding of the science of volcanoes and how we study them and assess them. He finds sources that support his thoughts and is not afraid to ask the expert opinions of others, so this is a scientific and factual book written in everyday language with explanations of scientific terms where necessary.
I have only had my book for a couple of days and have not yet had time to read it in any depth. Instead, I have flicked through quickly, being reassured by its tone and awe-struck by many of the incredible photographs.
But all that is for episodes two and three which will follow shortly.
When living in the UK, before settling over here in 2015, I was involved in a couple of launches for my own works and in many more as host at the launches of the works of other aspirant writers. Whatever the quality of the work, and it was invariably well presented and well written, these launches were invariably held in the drafty rooms of civic libraries like those in Heywood, Middleton or Rochdale which had also served as the office space of the scribblers that we were. There was no technology, nor was there a surfeit of books to give away, and there was a dearth of attendees and an even wider dearth of attendees willing to purchase a copy.
This opening episode, however, is called How To Deliver A Presentation, and is inspired by the event held at Casa de la Cultura Benito Perez Armas in Yaiza on Saturday 9th December at mid-day. (Lesson one, I used to say to my writing students in the UK, is don´t launch your book at mid-day on a Saturday: everyone is either shopping at Bury Market or is heading off to watch a football match.
However, the publishers and their advisors and their authors eschewed such sound advice and together delivered the perfect presentation.
By the time we had taken seats on the front row (Dee and I and our two undercover reporters) there was a hundred or so people who had also turned up early for this talk. As the starting time approached we smiled at how relaxed were the two publishers (and photographer) and their author. So too, as ever, was their mediator Larry Yaskiel, a much loved ambassadorial figure and honorary editor of Lancelot magazine.
Roger has in fact contributed many articles to Lancelot over the years, and that camaraderie between these four men permeated this entire presentation. They even managed to make all the final tweaks to what looked to be pretty state of the art technology, which between them concluded just as we reached high noon, and they did so without one wrong word.
The smart screen was not over-used (there was no death by Power Point) but was employed simply to amplify and clarify what was being said by anyone at that top table.
The book´s strap-line tells us that it is intended as a ´A Guide To Lanzarote Geology And Landscape´ and Roger talked about that in his opening few words and for those of us who thought we might be sitting through a University lecture on the Science of it all, he assured us that it would be much more like a primary class lesson delivered by a much loved teacher.
The large crowd that was in attendance was comprised of a huge majority of indigenous folk, with a pride in their landscape and a curiosity about how it was shaped. They all had folkloric accounts that have proliferated since the eruptions in 1730.
The publishers of the work delivered in tandem with Roger, who spoke his sections in English and they were translated and sometimes adorned his thoughts. They are scholars and leaders in their field with geology and his love of photography adding an extra dimension. Each speaker had their own microphone on the table, and shared vocal duties. This technique held the attention of the audience with the changes of tone and language breaking up the talk and made it sound less like a lecture.
The microphone behaved itself impeccably with none of the whistles of whooshes or pops that used to violate similar presentations I remember in England.
There was a little cameo that saw us discuss the unison around deciding whether to take a scientific or aesthetic approach to the project when Roger first decided to write his book. It was agreed upon for a slight emphasis on the scientic but at first glimpse, and based on what I have heard others say, they got that balance right.
There was a very amicable and civilised question and answer session with the audience on conclusion of the speeches, and this raised some interesting questions and fulsome answers.
This section was followed by a closing book-signing, and it seemed that just about everybody had bought a copy of The Island Of Volcanoes, as well as other titles from the publisher´s well-stocked table.
Somebody organised and paid for a drink and nibbles area in the beautiful courtyard, with the palm trees forming an avenue across the square to the beautiful church. A crowd gathered round the serving area for the cheese and savoury platters and glasses of wine, and others took a stroll around the Belen only twenty yards away.
We heard plenty of chatter about the book, about Lanzarote and its shaped-by-volcano landscape and that is always the sign of an event like this having been successful.
Roger and his colleagues had held their audience and prompted animated chat.
We drove up to some of the peaks that encircle the Yaiza region and had been included in this talk. I have to say that my aesthetic appreciation, that I didn´t think could be increased, was in fact enhanced by the still scant scientific knowledge I had acquired today will be rendered even further by what I am sure to gather from my reading of this excellent book.
If you would like to learn more about this project then look out on these pages for
Episode two. Meet The Author, Roger Trend
Episode three. Who, what, when, where, why of volcanoes.