‘A book launch is a bit like a wedding, except that you’ve done something to deserve it.’
Those words, spoken by my dear friend, the wonderful writer, Sarah Klenbort, always made me smile. I think this time, seeing my novel, The Chicken Soup Murder, come into the world, it was a little more like a christening.
Just to add to the frisson, I had my first go at a live Facebook feed. A short speech from me, with thank-yous, an explanation of how my late husband nearly killed me while I was making chicken soup, the difficulties of grieving and the briefest of readings from the beginning of my novel.
Friends, family and well-wishers were there. Antonia from the Bookshop in South Street sold oodles of books. Rosie, marketing and communications officer from my publisher Seren Books, came along and brought her book-loving spaniel Mojo.
Was it a good evening? Someone asked me a few days later when I went into the Bookshop to sign more copies. ‘Fabulous!’ said Antonia.
I got to say a word from ‘the banned list’ in front of my dad (with his permission) and exchanged a lovely knowing look with my youngest niece and god-daughter. Perfect. I feel almost grown up now.
Among the family, friends and well-wishers, were some people I had never met before. A reminder that once the book is published it’s out there to be enjoyed by readers we might never meet. To see some on the night was wonderful.
Beach and Barnicott did us proud. If you’re wondering what the rustling is on the video that’s the sound of sweeties being unwrapped. The bing-bong is the sound of canapés descending. I heard they were delicious. I didn’t eat a single one.
But thank you to everyone attending. I am so glad you did. Some people travelled a long way (thank you) and Kate Wilson from the Bridport Prize came and took photos. Such a lovely person to come and support one of the winners of the Dorset Award (for my flash fiction story ‘Chess’ – I shall be forever grateful to Roger McGough and David Gaffney for giving me that honour), announcing her debut novel in her home town.
High among the many people I have to thank is Fay Weldon for her generous endorsement and the even lovelier things said to me in private and the encouragement for the future. Also to Fanny Blake for my first ever review in a national newspaper.
It’s a huge relief to have something that means so much to me personally be enjoyed by people I love and admire and to have fine reviews from people who were, until then, strangers admired from afar. That someone else gets it, just as I intended, feels magical! Thanks also to Tracy Baines and Frost Magazine and my revered former colleague and tutor, Sheenagh Pugh for understanding what it was all about.
After the launch came two selling events: one was the Bookfest in Bridport Arts Centre, organised by Chris Legg to raise money for Children’s Hospice South West. Ralph Hoyte put together an audio tour of Bridport in which I participated with extracts from my novel.
The second was a Christmas Fayre in Weymouth organised by the wonderful Sue Hogben. It was great to meet so many other authors and put faces to the names I knew: and all good practice setting out your stall …
I did so enjoy it. And one of the nicest things was someone coming along, a genuine new reader, saying ‘I can only read e-books these days’ and then having a message later to say that he’d bought not just the novel but also the short story collection, Pumping Up Napoleon, on Kobo.
Faith in human nature strengthened. Thank you so much to everyone who has been pleased that I made it this far!
It was never my intention to make this blog all about me, but the arrival of a book is overwhelming and I wanted to make The Chicken Soup Murder, dedicated to my late husband, Mike, feel as welcome as possible.
An early Christmas present: a friend sent me this review from Buzz magazine. I love Lucy Menon! She captures the novel’s themes of loss and grieving, while pointing out that ‘Despite its sombre subject matter, the book is humorous’.
As this goes out we will be past the Winter Solstice. New things will happen in 2018. In the meantime, Merry Christmas and thank you!
What were your highlights in 2017? Writing-related or nothing to do with authorship! I’m in the mood for celebrating!