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I have never attended any form of signing, be it book signing or cd signing, until yesterday when I chanced upon the launch of a new book.

I was at Lot 1 Shopping Mall after work yesterday, waiting for hubby to join me for dinner.  He was late so I did some window shopping.  I ended up browsing in the Popular bookstore cd section and busily switching Il Divo‘s Live In London DVDs from an obscure spot to a more prominent one on the shelf 😛

I was just about to leave the store when I noticed there was a promotion going on at the store front.  Russell Lee, a local writer best known for his compilation of local and Asian ghost stories in a series of books called True Singapore Ghost Stories (TSGS), was having book 22 launched with a book signing at the store.  I was drawn to the table that displayed his books simply because my son loves reading ghost stories and had on occasion asked me to get TSGS books for him.

The Caucasian man helping with the promo told me if I bought the book, I’d be the sixth owner of the latest release and that I’d be able to meet the man himself in less than 30 minutes.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to meet the man but I bought the book anyway.  After making my payment, I milled around the store front trying to find out more about this book signing since hubby would be late.

In the end, like the man said, I succumbed to the temptation and registered my interest in the book signing by getting a queue number.  I was number 4 in the queue.  I wrote my son’s name on the sticky pasted on my book and waited just outside the store for hubby and RL to arrive.  Thankfully, I had a new chapter of Los Defensores to read while waiting (for those who are not in the know, Los Defensores is a gripping fan fiction currently being posted on the Il Divo official forum).

It wasn’t long before the man announced the arrival of RL and requested us to queue up according to our queue number.  I was behind a young girl of 9 or 10 years old and two teenagers.  Then I saw him, a towering man who was covered from head to toe and who easily hid hubby from view as he walked ahead of hubby.  I was pleased to see hubby because it meant he could take pictures for me.

Now, a little bit of information about this man, Russell Lee.  He created the TSGS in 1989 which outsold most books that had ever been published locally.  It created a curiosity of the man who had never posted his pictures anywhere and his identity remains a secret even till today, except to the people who work with him.  He always turns up for events dressed in black outfits, with a hat on his head, his face covered by black face mask and his hands in gloves.

RL took his seat behind the table after removing his coat (guess he will never do any outdoor signing, at least not in sweltering hot Singapore).  He tested out a few pens and markers before deciding on one and jovially greeted the young girl who was first in the queue.  I observed what he said to the girl, asking her name and talking generally about her, drawing her into a conversation even as he signed her book and a poster with a personalised message.  Then he said, give me a Russell Lee handshake.  It was a combination of the normal handshake, a homie handshake and a high-five where he deliberately missed the target and elicited a giggle from the girl.  He read out the message he wrote on the book for the girl, probably worried that his handwriting was illegible.  Then they posed for pictures taken by his photographer and the girl’s mummy.

The two teenage girls went through pretty much the same routine and I wondered how long the last in line would have to wait because he seemed to be taking his own sweet time with the signing.  Thank goodness I was number 4!  During this time hubby was busy snapping away with my new mobile phone and trying to find a good spot to take good pictures.

At first I wasn’t very comfortable doing this kind of thing but having observed how RL treated each of the girl, I knew pretty much what to expect so when my turn came, I was prepared.  We shook hands and exchanged greetings heartily; he asked for my name and I told him.  Then I told him the book was for my son, Nick, and he wanted to know his age.  He asked if Nick was in National Service since he’s already 19 and I told him he’s still in school.  The conversation went on pretty well considering I am usually very shy and reserved in front of strangers.  After he finished writing his message, he read it out to me.  Then he signed the poster with the words ‘Listen to mum’ and I just had to thank him profusely for that LOL

Then came the Russell Lee handshake.  I had seen it 3 times to know what to do: first, the regular handshake, then you rotate your hand and clasp the other person’s thumb and finally the high-five.  He was caught by surprise when I tricked him with the high-five the way he tricked the girl and he laughed, saying, “That’s a good one!”  Then we posed for pictures.

I went away with the signed book, a signed poster, some bookmarks, a magnet, an iPhone pouch with RL inscription, some sweets and the satisfaction that I didn’t embarrass myself by talking gibberish 😛

Here are the pics 😉

– The introduction

RL signing the book

RL’s Handshake

RL’s Handshake 2

High Five! Missed the mark!

Russell Lee, Me and My Bad Hair Day

The Goods and the Goodies – Signed Volume 22 of The True Singapore Ghost Stories, signed poster, a notebook, some bookmarks, candies and a magnet (missing from pic)