The Big Apple, puddles and Harry Potter
8 pm Standard Eastern Time (or something like that – anyway I’m in New York)
Yes, I’m in the Big Apple for two nights, after my two night stay in Philadelphia for the American Library Association Midwinter Meet, where I met lots of librarians (unsurprisingly) and a editorial hero of mine (very surprisingly – more of that later).
Philadelphia was cold and snowy and, worst of all, slushy so that walking more than a meter outside became an absurd dance of puddle/snow-pile/ice dodging. I’ve never had to hold my feet in the air inside a taxi before – the footwell was a deep, grey puddle.
I saw little of Philly – view from taxis, the hotel and the conference center, two nice restaurants. I did also manage a quick visit to Reading Terminal Market, which is a fantastic place for food – from Amish butties through Sushi to Mexican cantina. Not really a place for the vegetarian, as joints of meat and huge whole fish were displayed to full effect at every turn.
As for working – I gave a short speech to some 12 and 13 year old kids, all keen readers. I tried not to let the boy on the front row who yawned a lot put me off (I’m sure he’d had a late night – it can’t have been my presentation, surely?) They asked some great questions about HALF BAD and all got ARCs which I signed (including one for yawning boy).
Today after lunch with more librarians I caught a train to New York. At the station I got talking to a man about the train tickets (the e tickets are suspiciously confusing in their simplicity) and I quickly realised that this man was Barry Cunningham (the original publisher of Harry Potter). So we sat together on the train and discussed books (Harry Potter/JK Rowling only came up once very briefly). A great end to a great weekend.
Arrived home yesterday afternoon after a busy start to the week on my Booksellers Tour of Britain. Booksellers Tour = eating and talking and travelling. This doesn’t sound like it should be exhausting (unless you’re eating mountains horrible food, talking for ten hours and travelling on foot with a 40lb rucksack – which I’m not), but it is.
Monday evening was Manchester, home turf for me but terrible traffic so my decision to drive there felt increasingly dumb as the clock ticked on. I arrived, flushed but sort of on time, and made my short presentation, ate and nattered to the lovely booksellers from the NW of England (for three hours) and it all whizzed by. I drove home thinking I’d write up some ideas that I’d had whilst talking about HALF BAD with everyone but couldn’t keep my eyes open (when I got home, not in the car).
Next afternoon I got the train up to Edinburgh. I was hoping to see some of beautiful city but apart from the view from the taxi to the hotel and the short walk to the restaurant I saw nothing. After an hour’s nap (in the hotel not the restaurant) I was ready for more chat, more eating and more enthusiastic booksellers such as Iona, Olaf and Megan to name a few (Edinburgh certainly has the most inspirational names for future characters!).
9.30 next morning I was on the train to London and after another late afternoon doze (I just can’t stand the pace!) I was ready for more food, more talk, more booksellers. And all of the booksellers were so enthusiastic and so clearly great lovers of books that I had a wonderful time.
Thursday morning and it was 3 hours of training with the wonderful Justin Somper (author of Vampirates and Allies And Assassins). This is one-on-one tuition, working out how to get over some of the issues raised in HALF BAD in a 40 minute presentation. Great fun. Why did this feel less like work than a 3 hour meal?
I had a night off last night before the last of the UK bookseller dinners in Birmingham tonight. Hopefully they will meet a fully refreshed me. Got to go for the train…