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London, Ep. 48

May 5, 2015 — To kick off a three-shows-in-one-month London run, we teamed with Quercus Books to bring LDM to the The Ace Hotel in Shoreditch for a night that featured an endless array of literary talent, judging loveliness and a wild finale that culminated with Team Tom Moran outdueling Team Jessica Cornwell in a down-to-the-wire game of Literary Musical Chairs to win Moran the LDM London, Ep. 48 crown. 

But well before the finale was a consideration, the glorious night kicked off with Lucy Foley, author of The Book of Lost and Found, who read a stellar excerpt from her debut novel about a boy seeing a girl at a party in Hertfordshire in 1928. Next up was Tom Moran, author of Dinosaurs and Prime Numbers, the first recipient of the Guardian Legend Self Published Book of the Month, who was all over the hilarity map, kicking off with a poem read off cue cards, then reading extracts from his book that demonstrated how to write the perfect novel. 

Then the mic was handed over to the trio of all-star judges: Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange MountainElizabeth Day, award-winning journalist and author of Scissors, Paper, Stone and Home Firesand Anthony Davis, writer, Smooth Radio drivetime host, aviation journalist. The trio were brilliant responding to the work, with Butler praising Foley's undercurrent of textual sex, Day wishing Rihanna had worn what Foley was wearing to the Met ball, and Davis saying if Foley worked for an airline, she'd be British Airways. Then the judges turned their attention to Moran, with Butler loving the differences between the two stories, and Day praising Moran's stage presence, saying "If you were a prime number you'd be a 5." 

Then after a huddle, the judges announced the night's first impossible decision, deciding it would be Moran who would advance as the night's first finalist. 

Then after a brief intermission, LDM Executive Producer Suzanne Azzopardi brought the night into Round 2, with J. Ryan Stradal making his reading-in-London debut with a dazzling excerpt from his novel Kitchens of the Great Midwest, about a man plotting a meal plan for his baby's first months (including carrot cake). Finally it was Jessica Cornwell, doing her first-ever public reading, who read a quiet, mesmerizing excerpt from her novel The Serpent Papers

Again the mic was handed to the judges, with Butler praising Stradal's ability to tell a story that helps figure out who the author is, with Day loving the way he said "hummus" and Davis suggesting if Stradal's book was made into a movie he'd be played by Simon Pegg. Then they turned their attention to Cornwell, with Butler admitting he was a book sniffer, and Jessica's book was the best book he's ever smelled, and Day loving that Cornwell decided to read second, "like J. Ryan was your warm up act." Like he was Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball she before Madonna. 

Again, an impossible decision was to be made, and after another painful deliberation, the judges announced it would be Cornwell who would advance as the night's second finalist. 

Then up stepped LDM Creator Adrian Todd Zuniga, who announced the night's finale: Literary Musical Chairs, in which volunteers from the crowd were paired with finalists, then circled the chairs while listening to songs inspired by great works of literature. After Team Cornwell was down early, they stormed back, but with only two Chairists to go — Moran and a Cornwell team member — Moran used his height to play some of the greatest defensive musical chairs the world has ever known. When the music stopped, his bottom took up most of the stool, winning Moran the LDM London, Ep. 48 medal, and literary immortality to go with it.