Sunday, 5 October 2008

My first book launch (aka Lovely Caroline and Lovely The Friday Project)

(photo shamefully stolen from Liz!)

So, I couldn't let another day go by without blogging about Caroline's book launch the other week.

I'd never been to a book launch before - I was supposed to go to the Your Messages (which contains two of my flashes) book launch earlier this year but was ill - so was really excited about finally getting to go to one. Not just about attending a book launch but about attending Caroline's book launch and meeting up with some of my fellow Novel Racers. When you're a writer there are so few occasions to be sociable with other writers that I leapt at the chance to go along.

And a bloody good evening it was too.

The second I stepped off the escalator on the third floor of Borders, Oxford street I spotted CC Devine and Jude (who I'd never met but recognised straight away. God bless Facebook!) and then (oh dear, it's a bit of a blur now), Leigh, Juliette (and the Ginger Guitarist), Kate, Cathy and Helen (and the man I mistook for The Welshman. Sorry about that). In fact, there were so many of us that knew each other the circle we formed as we got together for a gossip and catch-up, glass of wine in hand, took up most of the space at the top of the escalator!

And then lovely Caroline arrived! (with her lovely family)

Poor thing. She looked a tad bewildered at the mob that descended on her the second she stepped onto the floor but she looked the picture of elegance in her black dress and heels (I want to be an elegant author damnit!) and her family so was damned adorable I wanted to squeeze them all! I had a quick chat with Caroline and then she was whisked away (where I'm not sure) and we all chatted a bit more, drank a bit more, then took our seats. The book launch couldn't have been more different from the gallery showing I went to a few weeks ago. It was so wonderfully friendly, fun and chilled and I felt like a real part of it instead of a casual observer.

Anyway, Caroline reappeared from wherever she'd been hiding and her editor, Clare Christian, said a few - wonderfully supportive - words and then presented Caroline with some flowers and a present and then Caroline said a few words (which were really lovely) and then sat to read from her new novel, Black Boxes.

And then I felt nervous for her. Actually I wasn't nervous for her (she seemed so assured). I was nervous for me. Wondering how the hell I'd ever manage to do a reading in front of ALL THOSE FACES with a microphone in front of my mouth. And I felt a bit sick at the thought but I tell you what, I learned a lot about doing a reading from Caroline. She read so, so beautifully. There was such a lyrical, melodic quality to the way that she read and the rise and fall of her voice, the words, that transfixed the audience. I didn't want her stop.

But she did. She had to. She had to answer some questions on her book! And then a representative of One in Four (the charity Caroline generously supported with the proceeds of her novella Disraeli Avenue) said a few words and thanked Caroline for her support.

And then we queued to get our books signed and I met Liz Fenwick at last (and lovely and effervescent she was too) and her friend Biddy, Pierre L blog-reader extraordinaire AND I got to meet writing legend Sarah Salway at last (and discovered, via a Facebook connection, that we both knew someone not connected with the writing world) AND I got to meet the superfit journalist Julia Buckley whose blog (and magazine/newspaper columns) I'd read but never actually talked to in the virtual world.

So finally, signed book in hand, it was time to go. And there were lots of goodbyes and hugs and "we should do this again" and then I got lost in Black Boxes all the way home (it's the kind of book that sucks you in and you just can't stop reading). I haven't finished it yet as I'm currently reading about 3 books at the same time but I can't wait to dedicate a rainy Sunday afternoon (and I get the feeling there will be a lot of those over the next few months!) to lose myself again in the world of Ana and Pip.

And why do I love the The Friday Project nearly as much as I love Caroline? Because of this...

... my prize for winning Caroline's Black Boxes photo competition. Will you look at that loot! How wonderful to get my hands on so many books that I've read about on the net and wondered about (and wanted). And two mini twixes too! Clare Christian sure knows the way to a woman's heart. Books and chocolate. Perfect! :o) Thank you so, so much.
p.s. Sorry if I've forgotten to mention anyone I met/talked to at the launch. It's all a bit of a bit of a blur now and not just because of the wine involved!


Debs said...

Thanks so much for posting about Caroline's book launch. I wish I could have been able to go too.

Great prize, as you said, books and chocolate, so perfect.

HelenMH said...

That brings back great memories! Robert didn't mind being mistaken for Jason - and he thought all my blogging friends are lovely.

pierre l said...

It was lovely meeting you as well, and thanks for the very friendly description.
The first book signing I ever went to was Marie Phillips' a year ago; there may have been other bloggers there, but I never discovered who they were. Whereas this time, with the speech at the beginning, then the Q&A session, then the informal signing, I was able to meet all these bloggers I have been reading for some time, plus new names that I had seen in comment boxes but was not reading.
Meeting Caroline and Sarah Salway was indeed really great.
Thank you for writing an excellent description of the event Cally, Good luck with finding a publisher and I hope to come to your book launch.

Tam said...

Book launches sound very nice to go to but the thought of doing one fills me with terror. Almost a good enough excuse not to send my novel out (when I finish it)...

Kate Lord Brown said...

Great post - so heartening reading about your and Caroline's success!

Anonymous said...

Wish I'd been there!

Caroline said...

I was so so so happy to see you there!

I was whisked off because I was shaking and had a really stressy journey (was late and I hate being late!) and knew that I needed to perform. I was taken to a room and told to breathe and I did. I loved the atmosphere in the room and all the lovely people who came. It was a celebration.

So glad that you got your prize! Fab books :) x

KAREN said...

Sounds wonderful, and great prize too :o)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like great fun. this is my first visit here, and I like it!

Fionnuala said...

And to think I didn't want to upset my eldest daughter who booked tickets to the cinema without asking me if I was busy so I went to see a crappy movie instead. BAD MOVE....Next time..x

liz fenwick said...

Happy to share photos and wonderful to finally meet you and sooooooo many others. It was a wonderful night.
Can't wait for your launch and all the other prepub racers :-)

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Wish I could have been there too *sniff* but I'm very glad it went so well.