On 11 February, in what may be the most niche book giveaway in history, the winner of a live-band David Bowie karaoke contest will be taking home an advance review copy of my debut novel Sockpuppet.
Let me unpack that a little.
Like many authors, I enjoy planting little easter eggs inside my novels – hidden jokes and references that might appeal to the handful of readers who spot them. Failing that, they all appeal to me. One of my favourite easter eggs in Sockpuppet is a cameo appearance by the house band from the late, lamented spectacular known as Ward & White's Karaoke Circus.
This was a club night where guest singers from the world of comedy competed alongside members of the public for a, quote, coveted prize, unquote. (Just to put the 'coveted' part in context, I won a prize once. It was a Lindt bunny. Just saying.)
The house band was fantastic - and many of the singers were very, very bad; though some were jaw-droppingly good. All were reviewed by an X-Factor-style panel consisting of The Baron, a clown-faced buffoon with a Roget-grade vocabulary of superlatives; and Dan, a man who made Jack Dee sound like Pollyanna on a diet of poppers and Jaegermeister. Which probably sounds like a night spent inside a rejected Channel Five light entertainment pilot – but look, just take my word for it, it was fabulous on every level - warm and inclusive and gut-achingly funny. Frequent KC participant Chris Addison used to describe it as 'the best night out in London' and he wasn't wrong.
But the magic never lasts for ever. In spring 2014 the Circus packed up its tent and was off with the inevitable trumpety trump trump trump. And that, it seemed, was that. I was writing Sockpuppet at the time so, as a small tribute to all the lulz they'd given their fans over the years, I gave them a walk-on role, performing onstage in a pivotal night-club scene. With their permission, of course. But I assumed that this would be as close as I'd ever get to another night of KC lunacy.
Reader, I was wrong. Like many other comedy-nerds-cum-wannabe-club-singers haunting Twitter last week, I was bowled over to see that KC is coming back next month, for a one-night-only, all-Bowie cancer fundraiser. So (once I'd bagged my tickets to this instantly sold-out event) I asked KC mastermind Martin White if he'd like to include a review copy of my novel among the prizes, in recognition of the band's uncredited guest appearance in those pages. Martin said yes.
So if by any chance you've been lucky enough to nab a ticket for Bowieoke Circus on 11 February, and if you feel inclined to put yourself forward for a singing spot, you might find yourself winning a shiny, super-exclusive proof copy of Sockpuppet.
And who knows: maybe a Lindt bunny, too.