Posts tagged sketches
Sketches Tour: Update

It’s been a busy few weeks with The Paradox Sketches Tour. Not that it’s a toil. I get to enjoy food. Drink wine. And meet new friends. Makes up for this introvert having to take centre stage!

The thing about being an introvert is that when I do venture into the public realm, the world seems full of questions. Did I come across ok? Was my content strong enough? Did people enjoy it? But here’s the funny thing about stepping out of my comfort zone. This adventure has been one of the most affirming things I have ever done.


“...Yesterday I was lucky enough to be a part of Andy Smithyman's  Paradox Sketches Tour - I hosted a book club with a group of friends. Andy gave us an insightful presentation followed by a captivating reading. We discussed the book around the dinner table, over wine and food. What better way to spend a Sunday evening?

I would highly recommend anyone to take part and host a book club - it is a special experience and enables layers of interesting conversation around important topics.

My two main takeaways from the discussion are:

The idea of provocation; popping our own bubble of ignorance and the importance of continually working on this. This deeply resonated with everyone around the table, leaving us all considering our ignorance and hypocrisies.

The other is the idea of seeing and observing. We see, but do we really observe?  We talked about this considering the world (and its injustices) around us...

The evening led me to thinking about this idea in relation to books. With an insight into the mind and thoughts of the author, I feel I have a deeper understanding of the intricate and multi-layered nature of Paradox. It's left me wanting to pay extra attention to the words and hidden messages. Which has me wondering, how many books have I read where I've seen the words, but I haven't really observed what's beneath them?

Thanks Andy for a special and thought-provoking evening.”

It’s one thing writing a book. Another, talking about it with a gap between stage and audience. But when this gap is removed... it’s an adventure I wouldn’t want any other way.


Sketches Tour: A Lesson

I faced a new challenge heading towards my second event.

How do I transport my books via train and tube during rush hour?

For some reason during my tour planning stage, I always had the picture of Paradox safely packaged away in the boot of my car. ‘Safely packaged’ being the key phrase.

The Iris Cloth front cover was chosen to amplify the sense of touch for the reader, complimenting the storyline of Paradox. It was my attempt at producing a fictional tale in the style of a coffee-table keepsake. And I think it worked, but this also brought with it a complication.

As with all cloth covers, the material can get damaged during transportation.

Since the launch of Paradox, I’ve navigated through this challenge in many ways; from placement of stock and postage, to wrapping an individual book in a tea-towel if I needed to show someone a copy. But transporting a stack of books, alone, on public transport? That’s a whole new dimension.

One idea was to individually package them up, just like how they are posted out. But how would I personalise the message inside if I didn’t know who would be purchasing the book? I tried using a suitcase, but even a bedsheet around the edges didn’t stop the books from moving around. The compromise was cardboard and bubble wrap - in a weekend bag. And needless to say, my attempt didn’t entirely succeed. 20% damaged bag stock.

But this is nothing to feel down about. It’s all part of the adventure. I love trying to figure all this out. What matters is that the second event went well. I met wonderful people. The host did amazing with their greeting and ‘spread of snacks.’ And most of all, I came away believing in the possibilities for this approach.

I now have a week off from the Paradox Sketches — another challenge, mixing childcare with touring.

Sketches Tour: The First


First lines fascinate me. They embrace the present and at the same time, capture the uncertainty of the future.

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” (George Orwell, 1984)

“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.” (Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle)

“Marley was dead: to begin with.” (Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol)

These opening lines, amongst others, inspired my own offering with Paradox. “My name is Samuel Abrahams, and this is my confession.” This week, I’ve begun to write another first line.

“Harpenden was the first, a doorway into...”


The Paradox Sketches Tour started last weekend. I was nervous. It was the ‘opening night.’ And for the previous twelve hours, I had been making sure my presentation was concise; not to forget the double/triple checking that my folder was full with inserts and handwritten cards. The regular check of a traffic app provided assurance for my travel plans.

In a living-room, with old and new friends, we shared tea, cake, and chatted about my book. Everything was going to plan. My opening line was coming along nicely - “Harpenden was the first.”


A surprising discovery.

“A doorway into...”

I realised that the first line of this tour was not going to be completed by my hand alone. It's the people in the room, regardless of where I am, who shape the journey of Paradox. And that's both an exciting and nervous prospect for a writer who likes to craft his own lines.

Harpenden, thank you. This adventure just took on a life of its own.


The Paradox Sketches Tour

I’m about to start another part of this adventure.

It’s called ‘The Paradox Sketches Tour.’

But it’s not a typical book tour. I plan to travel with Paradox in a way which reflects the story and values behind its production. Not an easy task.

My idea adapts how Dickens sometimes toured with his writings. Imagine a house-concert but in literary form. The ‘host’ invites guests around their home or outside venue. We share food, drink, and I give a brief presentation about Paradox followed by a dramatic reading. We end with a Q&A and dialogue about the topics raised.

The size of the group doesn’t matter. One of the values I’ve always tried to hold onto with my writing is the importance of the individual, and that hasn’t changed with Paradox.

There are plenty of challenges with this approach, but that’s the exciting thing about something new. I will document this adventure as a bit of a travel log, taking you with me on this journey and where it leads.

If you are interested in hosting this type of event, please let me know. I would love to make this journey with you.

And in the words of Dickens, it’s now time for me to ‘pound the streets.’

Paradox Sketches Tour Sheet.jpg


Andy SmithymanParadox, tour, sketches