Today I'm going to try to sum up my weekend experience taking part in the epic Summer Scream Event at Foyles. It's going to be tough, because A LOT of stuff happened. And even more tough because, like the fluffy-brain fool I can often be, I remembered to take my camera, and remembered to take pictures in the green room before the event... then failed to take the camera to the event itself.
*Hangs head in shame*
Sorry! But I only realised once we had started, and it seemed a bit rude to ask everyone to wait while ran off to get my handbag. So I will have to paint you a word picture instead. No booing at the back! A WORD PICTURE I SAID I AM A WRITER DANG IT HAVE SOME FAITH.
First of all - London was gorgeously sunny and *extremely* hot on Saturday. I'm always caught off guard by how much warmer it is in London than in Lincolnshire, where I live. I had on a dress and some matching blue tights with ankle boots, and was perfectly comfy up until changing trains in Newark. Thereafter I got steadily warmer and warmer and by the time I got to London all the make-up had melted off my face and I was really wishing I'd put my hair up. Alas, my well-known travel jinx had also made me quite a bit late, so instead of having time to find my hotel and drop off my luggage, I was forced to haul my wheelie suitcase onto the Underground with me.
Here's a fact about the Tube, for those who don't live in or often travel to London: if you're not willing to discard all tenants of civilised, polite behaviour, you will never manage to board an Underground service. Or if you DO manage to get on the Tube, you'll never manage to get off again. Basically, this is because native Londoners cram themselves into the doors without any regard for their own safety or well-being, or the safety and well-being of others, and if you don't cram too, you'll still be standing there waiting for someone to let you in/out when you die of old age.
This sort of thing is hard for me, Dear Readers. I'm Northern. I'm the sort of person (some would say sucker) who lets the elderly and anyone who looks ill or disabled go in front of me in queues. I hold the door for everyone. I give up my seat for pregnant ladies. The idea of shoving and pushing and whacking people in the shins with my suitcase (and running over their feet with the wheels) makes me feel as if my mother is about to appear behind me, hissing, and clip me around the ear.
I just about managed to haul myself and my luggage from King's Cross onto the first leg of my Tube journey, but the next line was much busier and my natural politeness would probably have resulted in me being stranded on the platform for quite some time if (by one of those strange, it's-a-small-world miracles) I hadn't met a member of my writing group who lives in London and was intending to participate in the event in order to provide moral support, right then.
With her encouragement - which came in the form of her forcefully crying 'Go! Push in! Go on, NOW Zolah!' in my ear - I managed to board the Circle Line. I will gloss over the part of the journey where my hair got sucked through one of the ventilation windows and I was nearly balded, and move onto the part where we were met by Lovely Lass (who you may remember from this post about the FrostFire Trailer) at the station and led to Foyles. There my writer friend went off to the cafe to meet with another writer friend who was attending, and I was whisked, babbling and incoherent, up to the green room.
There I met lovely writers. I mean, really genuinely lovely. And gorgeous and kind and nice. Despite the babbling and incoherency, I managed to collect hugs from everyone, and took some pics.
|Michelle Harrison with Dear Reader Becky who now works for S&S!|
|Lee Weatherly and Kaz Mahoney|
|The whole lot of us! From L to R - Michelle, Lee, Me, Kaz|
Lovely Lass, rightfully alarmed by how shiny I was, swiftly arranged for some cold drinks, and I gulped down a bottle of lemonade and a glass of water as Wonder Editor (who had decided to attend probably to help Lovely Lass control the disaster that is me) gently asked me if I had remembered that we were all supposed to be doing a reading, and sensibly brought my copy of FrostFire with me.
Nope. And no, I had not.
Usually I am more professional than this, Dear Readers, I promise! I think I must have missed the email mentioning the reading aspect of the event - there were quite a lot of emails flying around at one point. So Wonder Editor hurried off and promised the lovely Neil, who was the event organiser, her first born child if he would lend me a copy from Foyles stock to read from. Which he did. Then we quickly decided that I'd just read the preface bit, which is very short and easy, since I've never actually read from FrostFire in public before and haven't perfected the rhythm and timing.
And then we were off! Giggling and a little nervous, we were ushered into a lovely room with walls covered in all different kinds of art (which I sadly never got the chance to examine as closely as I wanted) and this huge vaulted ceiling with exposed beams, and a stage and lots of readers all looking at us expectantly. Eeep.
We sat down, giving each other worried looks, as Neil introduced each of us and asked that we start with the reading. Brave Lee (that's L.A. Weatherly) started us off with a really horribly intriguing scene from ANGEL FIRE, which is the sequel to ANGEL. I haven't read it yet, so I had to remind myself (again) that I am a grown-up and it would *not* be mature to lunge across the stage and try to wrestle the book from her hands so that I could find out What Happened Next. Kaz Mahoney followed this up with an exclusive reading from her upcoming novel FALLING TO ASH, which is the start of a new series about a teenage vampire called Moth. It was an exciting action scene, but her delivery of the dialogue was hilarious. I loved it.
Then it was my turn. I'd swiftly realised that I was going to have to read more than the preface, since Lee and Kaz had each read for about four or five minutes. So I winged it by doing the preface and then skipping a spoilerific bit and going onto the first chapter. To be honest I'm not sure how it went - I was concentrating extremely hard on the page because I didn't want to trip over my own words (that would have been embarrassing). But when I was done, Michelle Harrison read a brilliant, spooky, atmospheric section from the beginning of her first YA novel UNREST, reducing the audience to terrified shudders.
Then we took turns to talk a little bit about our publishing journey. Lee told us that she had written literally dozens of books for young readers series and that when the idea for ANGEL came knocking she had three contracts on the go and really didn't have time. But the characters stayed in her head for years and eventually she just gave in and let them take over her brain.
Kaz talked about how she always wanted to be a writer, but how she struggled to finish stories (doesn't *that* sound familiar, Dear Readers?) and for a while got so discouraged that she gave up on writing and getting published completely. When she wrote THE IRON WITCH for NaNoWriMo it brought all her enthusiasm back, and she decided to really take getting published seriously.
I told my story - including how I, too, had often struggled to finish books - and how I eventually I managed to talk my way into getting Walker Books to take a chance on The Swan Kingdom.
Then Michelle Harrison spoke about how she always imagined she would write horror stories, but how this idea for a book about a girl who saw fairies had turned out to be the first thing she finished, and she described working behind the bar at her mum's pub and scribbling in her notebook between pulling pints.
When we'd all finished talking we took questions from the audience, who asked some brilliant questions. I chucked FrostFire swag at readers who addressed questions to me, and managed not to bean anyone in the head. Then we adjourned to the signing tables, where I finally got to glomp a whole bunch of blogger-friend and Dear Readers. It was so lovely to meet them all! I really wanted to just stand there and babble and chat to everyone, but Lovely Lass and Neil were making meaningful gestures at me, so I sat down and started signing (with frequent breaks for jumping up and hugging). The pile of books next to me disappeared at the most amazing rate, and I felt incredibly blessed.
By the time everyone had gotten all their books, postcards and signing books autographed Neil was needing us to clear out so that the next panel could come in and do their event. I said goodbye to everyone, hugged everyone again, picked on Wonder Editor a little bit (I'm so sorry Wonder Editor! I don't know why I always tease you - you're an angel to put up with it!) and then the two ladies from my writing group whisked me away, first to the Tokyo Cafe where I had bubble tea and got carried away and ordered a huge amount of food (I couldn't even eat half of it - luckily reinforcements arrived and demolished the leftovers for me) and then... to Haagen-Daz...
*Cue Angels singing*
Cookies and cream, pralines and cream, and butterscotch pancakes, along with a mango sorbet passion surprise. I ought to have taken pictures of this culinary art for you, but frankly I was too busy eating it. I probably consumed enough calories in that one sitting to keep me for the rest of the week and I DO NOT CARE.
If I ever get rich and famous, I shall hire a personal trainer - and move in next to Haagen-Daz.
And then I hauled myself back onto the Tube (carrying not only my swag bag, my suitcase and my handbag, but also TWO ADDITIONAL BAGS of books and presents and sweets from the best Dear Readers in the whole wide world) and went to my hotel and just about managed to have a shower before I collapsed to watch Britain win three gold medals in an hour. Whoot!
So yeah. It was pretty awesome. Invite me back any time, Neil! I'm there!
A thousand thanks to every blogger-friend and Dear Reader who turned up for this. You guys made the whole experience so special that even with my travel jinx (both my trains home were cancelled - no joke) and the heat and the suitcase I will still look back on this weekend as some of the best fun I've ever had. Snuggles for all.
And now! It's time for a Summer Scream giveaway! While at the event I managed to get Kaz, Lee and Michelle each to sign a copy of one of their books. Lee actually signed two, ANGEL and the sequel ANGEL FIRE. I am going to send these books (ANGEL, ANGEL FIRE, UNREST and THE IRON WITCH) PLUS a signed copy of FrostFire PLUS a signed copy of any other book of mine that you want PLUS FrostFire swag... to one lucky reader. It is the grand prize to end all grand prizes.
What do you have to do to win? It's simple. Sugarscape have just put up an interview with me in which I talk about FrostFire and love triangles and snogging Mr Darcy, and I want you to visit that article. You can tweet it or share it to Facebook as well if you like, or mention it on your blog - that would be awesome. If you already have a Sugarscape account you could comment on it. Any of that would be great. But once you've read it? Come back here and comment on THIS POST and tell me something you liked about the interview. Anything you liked, that made you smile or think, or whatever.
One entry per person, just to keep things simple. And I will pick the winner NEXT TUESDAY. So entries will be counted until midnight on Monday. To review: go here, read, share if you like, come back here and comment. That's all.
Okay, I'm exhausted after all this, my lovelies, so I'm going to slope off and quietly scribble some notes about flying monsters and rooftop battles and the like. What? It's how I relax! See you on Thursday :)