River of Destiny – the first 2 weeks
For months the date sits there in one’s diary – publication day. First it is months away, then weeks, then at last only a few days and it begins to dawn that it is almost here! And suddenly I have a new facebook page – official (I hate that word!) run by my publisher with thousands of followers. I am gobsmacked. Where did they all come from? Then my first duty was to host a visitation from a video film team to make the little video which you can see on that official face book page. (The out takes of my dog are far better than the bit with me in it, but then he is a natural star and loved every minute of their visit!) We travel to Harwich to meet some fans which is lovely although the presence of the camera still manages to make me feel stiff and self conscious.
I have to get used to the idea that publicising a book now involves a huge input from the author, with daily entries on facebook and twitter and the web site – a full time job in itself.
A few days later I go down to my publishers for a meeting to discuss publication plans and hear that people are putting in wonderful orders for the book. Things a looking optimistic. In the atrium at the entrance downstairs was a display of my books – so they were expecting me.
Upstairs brightly printed display folders with figures and plans, Cupcakes .
and champagne. Very pleasant and encouraging!
Then comes the hard work. 500 copies of the hardback to sign for the independent bookshops In theory this sounds wonderful and helpful. In practice it is exhausting and needs the help of about 4 people to pass you the book and then remove it and repack it in a box!
500 books to go. and...
500 books finished
Then home with my agent Carole (who doubles as my photographer in chief). The next day we were off to Nottingham for an event together so it made sense for me to stay up in London with her. Leaving early we set off for St Pancras and hurried a little wistfully past all the international travellers towards a train heading up to the MIdlands. Our event at the Lowdham Book Festival was held at Woodborough Hall – a lovely unspoiled country house hotel just outside Nottingham where some 80 people had arrived for afternoon tea while Carole and I chatted about books and our working relationship. It was a lovely afternoon.
Looks as though I can’t find my notes!
Mics usually take one look at me and refuse to work . This was a good old fashioned one I could cope with
Not sure what is so funny. Not my best angle.
At Lowdham I had to break the news yet again that although I was born in Nottingham, I wasn’t actually probably a genuine Nottingham girl, having left when I was about a week old. They seemed to forgive me that slight inconsistency in my life history and were wonderfully welcoming.
Back home, fighting off a horrendous summer cold I began a round of interviews with local press and radio – always great fun. Journalists have a habit of throwing googlies amongst their questions which take one off guard and make one think afresh which is good for the brain – though not quite so good when feeling quite so ill. I discovered that constant doses of paracetemol had the amazing effect of taking away all my aches and pains including sore contact lenses as a side effect of killing the sinus temporarily. Every cloud and all that ...
Publications day itself came and went with lots of congratulations and a lovely bunch of flowers from my publisher, then the next day we had the launch party at Sutton Hoo . Browsers Books in Woodbridge and the National Trust went to such trouble to arrange a wonderful evening. I was really touched by all their efforts.
The site itself is enormous and very beautiful.
A typical scene on this part of the Deben – it could be a painting by Constable. Wonderful power of cloud and tree
We had champagne and cider and nibbles in the museum,
With 2 members of ‘Team Destiny’ Laura, my publicist and Lucy one of my editors. Next came my talk and reading in the King’s River Cafe.
Every single chair was taken which was nice!
Then the loveliest touch of all, people were able to make their way out to the burial mounds as the sun set over the river. We had been blessed with fantastic weather for that one lucky day.
I stayed signing books as the sun disappeared,
Sadly I didn’t get the chance to go out and witness this special moment, but then I have been to Sutton Hoo on many occasions before. I was particularly struck by someone who said she had stayed out on the burial mounds, reading the book, until it grew dark. Magic.
I met so many lovely new people that evening, as well as friends of old.
Me with twins, Matilda and Jess, named after characters in the novels.
Matilda and Jess with their mum, Jules
Queuing up for signing.
Speed signing at the end!
It was a very special occasion and one I shall long remember.
More interviews over the next few days made me realise my throat was getting no better and by the time we came to my evening at Red Lion Books in Colchester I had nearly lost the power of speech altogether However I had as always an incredibly sympathetic and understanding audience and Pete and Sarah Donaldson nursed me through the evening where yet again I met some fascinating new friends as well as some familiar faces. I left under a torrential downpour which has been the signature weather of the last 2 weeks. I am so lucky that where it really mattered, so that people could go outside, at Sutton Hoo, the ancient rain gods came up trumps.
And now , with only a few events left, scattered over the diary, I am beginning to look forward to the chance to put all the excitement behind me and go back to writing. That, after all, is what it’s all about.
Photos: Carole Blake