One thing I really love about keeping this blog is the fact that it records the most important/exciting/nerve-wracking moments in my publication adventure and my launch party was right up there with the biggies like getting the call from my agent, meeting my publishers for the first time and finally holding my novel in my hands.
So...my launch party...
I arrived at the pub in Charing Cross at about 6.15. My agent and my parents had told me that they wouldn't be there until 7 so I was fully expecting to walk into a deserted room and hang around on my own for forty-five minutes. What I didn't expect was to hear a loud Cooo-eeee (or was it Oiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!?) as I walked into the pub. I, and the rest of the pub, turned to see where the noise came from and I was delighted to spot QwertyQueen, Leigh and Spiral Skies sitting in the corner tucking into some food and drinking wine. I joined them for a glass of wine and then we made our way upstairs into the function room I'd booked.
It was absolutely LOVELY. There were huge windows across two of the walls, a wooden floor, lots of wooden tables and chairs, leather sofas, a table by the door lined with glasses (I'd asked for 15 bottles of wine so everyone could have a drink when they came in), a long table along the window (for the buffet I'd ordered), a private bar all for us and a beautiful Christmas tree twinkling away in the corner of the room. It really was the perfect venue and my excitement only grew when the bar man brought in the box of books I'd ordered from my publishers and Leigh, Qwerty and Spiral set about arranging a display of books on the long table and decorating the tree with the 'Heaven Can Wait' business cards I'd had printed.
It wasn't long before people started to arrive. There were friends from the Skyros holiday I went on earlier this year, friends from school, uni, Brighton and London, my parents, staff from my agency, my agent, lots and lots of writing/blogger friends (including Tam, Lily, Karen, Clodagh, Fionnuala, CC Devine, Captain Black, Sarah and Debi)...
>> left to right: Leigh, Karen, Spiral Jen and Tam (thanks to Fionnuala for the photo)
...and fellow agency authors Jane Costello and Tara Hyland.
>> left to right: Carly from the DA agency, me, Jane Costello (back of her head), Tara Hyland (back of her head)
>> left to right: Tara Hyland, Jane Costello, Carly, Me
I was so, so, SO touched that so many people had turned up to celebrate the publication of my novel. Honestly, I've never felt more special. I also felt like a human whirlwind - talking to people for 5 or 10 minutes and then saying, "You'll have to excuse me, I've just seen..." and spinning across the room. I lost my wine glass dozens of times, scattered my mobile phone, open purse and cards and gifts across various parts of the bar and was the last one to get to the yummy buffet because I was gabbing so much!
Before the launch I was a bit worried about how so many people from so many different parts of my life would get on - all being in one room together - but I needn't have worried. I saw Brighton friends talking to my school friends, my parents talking to my agent, blogging/writing friends who'd never met chatting merrily and uni friends talking to London friends. The atmosphere in the room was just amazing - everyone seemed so happy and, this was the really touching bit, so proud and pleased for me. Throughout the evening people came up to me to ask me to sign their copies of Heaven Can Wait (or the copies they were buying from the display) and I signed them all thinking, "Wow, I can't really believe I'm doing this!"
Time flew by and, before I knew it, my agent was standing in the corner of the room, asking for quiet.
She made a lovely speech about me (apologies but I can't remember exactly what she said but it was definitely lovely and my cheeks turned pink!) and then turned to her boyfriend and said, "Peter has a surprise for you." All eyes turned to Peter and he asked us to start clapping in time with him...then he launched into an acapella version of 'Cheek to Cheek' (the lyrics start "I'm in Heaven, I'm in Heaven...")
He looked at me as I sang and I swear my cheeks boiled with embarrassment!
When I looked at my agent she was grinning her head off. I then made the mistake of looking around the room and EVERYONE WAS LOOKING AT ME! (I didn't look at the rest of the room again!). Worse was to come..when Peter stopped singing everyone looked at me expectantly. Speech time! The night before the launch I'd considered writing out a speech but spent several hours putting together a mixed CD instead (which I didn't get to play because the function room had an mp3 connection not a CD player!).
Anyway, before it was time for me to make my speech one of my school friends asked if she could interrupt. I said "Of course" and L said that she'd like everyone to raise a glass to my school friend who'd died, who'd inspired me to write the book and who we still missed. On that emotional note it was time for me to say something. I wittered on about having a dream about being a published author for as long as I could remember, thanked everyone for coming (I don't think I missed anyone) and then looked at my agent and said, "Lastly, I'd like to thank Maddie. Without her my dream wouldn't have come true". I got a bit choked up then and was in danger of bursting into tears so added, "I'll stop there or I'll start crying! Okay everyone, stop looking at me now and start talking!"
Seconds later the party was in full swing again. It continued swinging until a quarter to midnight when the bar staff asked me if I'd like to settle up because it was time to go home. I said goodbye to my parents (who, despite saying the night before that they'd only stay an hour or so because they wouldn't know anyone, stayed all night because they were having such a good time!), my uni friends and the last few stragglers, and caught a bus to stay the night with some London friends.
It was truly magical night. Absolutely bloody magical. I couldn't have asked for a better launch party or more wonderful people to share it with and I'll remember it forever.