So I have just returned from the UK and I had a lovely time! The first half of my trip was devoted to seeing old friends and visiting old haunts. I also got to go for lunch with my agent Julia at an amzing Italian restaurant. It was so great to see her again and to talk shop. But I also just like hanging out with her as we always have a fun time together. And we always seem to go for good food as well. Go us!
During this time I did make a point of seeking out my book in a bookstore as as we all know I hadn't had the privilege of walking into a bookstore and seeing the book on my shelf. So now to add to all the photos of other people with my book, may I present me with my book!
And me and my friend Sarah looking thoughtfully (and slightly suspiciously at my book):
It is a slightly surreal experience walking into a store on the other side of the ocean and seeing your book and your name on the shelf. Also it's kind of wonderful!
Okay back to story. The second half of my trip was devoted to the book and stuff. On the Monday night I was moved into a beautiful hotel, The Montague, right around the corner from the British Museum, and a truly awesome room.
Here are more pictures of truly awesome room. From many angles.
Bed with very high ceiling and canopy
Little desk nook area with railing and stairs.
View from bathroom up towards nook.
After a lovely evening which involved a visit to the Museum, a conference call with my American editor, the most awkward dinner ever where I was the only person in the whole dining room and the wait staff kept peeking around the corner to check up on me, a bath, and watching City Slickers, I woke up bright and early the next morning to meet the lovely Alyx from Scholastic for our trip to Manchester.
Can I say, it is odd having a minder. I have always considered myself pretty independent and stuff, but I have to say when you have someone else taking care of all the details for you, you really start to feel helpless without them. And I mean I was only with her for two days. Imagine being super famous with an entire entourage. Kind of makes you understand a bit better how those superstars can make really big mistakes when on their own. Kind of. Sort of. Not really though (speaking of mistakes, can I say the thing that has got to me about that whole Britney Spears performance fiasco, aside from how sad it was, was how everyone was calling her fat. I'm sorry, she might not be as skinny as she was, or as toned, but she is simply not fat. And I am angry about that. Ehem.)
Anyway . . .
We get on the train and head up to Leicester. On the way we chat a bit, she's really cool, and I constantly look over her shoulder at her typing on her Blackberry.
"Who are you writing to?"
"What are you writing about?"
"Who are you writing to now?"
Actually one of the people she was writing to was Philip Pullman with whom she was organising stuff with regards to the film release of "The Golden Compass" based on his book series "His Dark Materials" (the trailers look gorgeous! As does Daniel Craig who is in it). That was pretty cool.
Then we arrived in Leicester and we went to the Borders there where the greatest class of kids were waiting for us. Some even dressed as pirates! So I talked to them about how I wrote the book, read a little (the fencing scene, and I demonstrated some of the positions for them), answered some questions, and then signed some books.
I think we all had a pretty fun time. I know I did, and the kids seemed to laugh a lot.
The whole thing had been organised by this girl Ria who had contacted me through this blog and I have to say she was just amazing, and big thank you to her once more, the whole event was just lovely.
Then Alyx and I were back on the train for Manchester where she helped me prepare a ten minute little talk for the book buyers. When we arrived I got to hang out in my hotel room for a bit, kind of get a second wind. Here is a picture of the hotel room.
And then Alyx came and fetched me and we went to a hotel right across the street where some Scholastic folks were doing a presentation of the winter/spring line-up to the book buyers and where I would talk for the last ten minutes (as they are releasing my book in paper back in the spring). So I went in at the end of the talk and spoke for ten minutes, and I think actually managed to speak for just ten minutes. I was so proud of myself! As we all know I have the tendency to just go on and on . . .
Then we had a lovely dinner with the book buyers (who were all really nice and enthusiastic), and then off to bed again.
Next day Alyx and I went around to sign stock in Manchester. Signing stock is basically going into a store, signing books, and then leaving. It isn't like a proper sit down signing or anything. Then we returned to London (a 3 hour train ride which is about as much time it takes to get to my cottage in Canada, but in the UK is crossing the country), and signed some stock in London before meeting up with my editor Elv, and agent Julia, for an evening of dinner and theatre. I had suggested Spamalot, and I have to say it was rather good. Some of the jokes didn't quite work (as in they would have made more sense on Broadway as opposed to the West End) but it was really funny, lived up to the movie, and definitely ended better than the movie did. Oh and for any Coronation Street fans out there, you know evil Charlie? The one who just was so horrible to all the women on the street? He played Lancelot!!!! When he bowed he got boos, and I'm pretty sure it didn't have anything to do with his performance (he was pretty good), just that he was evil Charlie!
Julia my agent, Alyx my minder, and me pointing at programme by way of indicating we were at Spamalot. It is important to point at things like that, otherwise indicating becomes much more difficult.
Checked into new hotel. Room looked like this.
Next morning had an editorial meeting with Elv which went really well (and she seemed very excited about Timothy!) then we went for sushi.
Then back to the Scholastic offices.
View from Alyx's office (of King's Cross St Pancras).
I answered some questions on this online community for schools thing called Superclubs Plus. All the kids had read the book and I had like 8 pages to get through (which I couldn't actually get through so the girl who was helping me said she would email me the rest of them) and then a telephone interview with Nikki Gamble of Writeaway. And then I went with my new minder Camilla (Alyx had to go to Eastbourne and help prepare for her sister's wedding) to Harrods where I signed yet more stock. And even though it was just a stock signing they set up a pretty red table for me.
And then I learned about "sign, line and date." Do you know what that is? Cause I had no idea. The woman at Harrods had to explain it to me. Evidently a book is more valuable if the author has signed their name, dated it and . . . written the first line of the book into it.
Do any of you guys know why that is? I was thinking maybe it went back to when manuscripts were hand written initially, so that when the printed edition came out you would have a mini-version of the original copy. But I don't know it that's right.
Anyway did it for 40 books. Was very proud of myself. I also know the first line of my book off by heart now.
And then that was it! I met with my friend Heather in the evening for dinner and Harry Potter movie. Returned to the hotel to get up bright and early to get to the airport the next morning.
It was a great time, but really quite tiring. Still I want to thank everyone at Scholastic for their wonderfulness, I felt very well cared for indeed.
And it's quite nice to be back, physically in Canada, and also virtually here on the web! There ain't nothing quite like home really.
Phew. I did it! I finished the story! Now I have to go upload all the photos. Sigh, a blogger's work is never done!