We country folk are quite scared of the big, bad city, so when I was invited to launch my book at the Ideal Home Show in London, I was filled with both excitement and terror … mostly terror … Okay, all terror! So filled with stress was I, that I sent my son to school with no shoes one day. But slowly my excitement overtook the fear, and before I knew it I was staring at an empty train track willing my London-bound train to appear.
Once in the world’s financial capital, I had the full intention of shedding my bags and heading to Tower Bridge, which Apley Towers is partly named after. But after the four-hour journey across the country and only one look at that cosy couch, I was incapable of doing anything but lying there and hoping the tea would magically make itself. By the time I had to meet the Sweet Cherry team, I had recouped some of my energy for the exciting dinner we had. (Who knew that an out of the way Italian restaurant, and one excitable editor could answer the age-old question of why you shouldn’t put your elbows on the table?) With full bellies, we two authors and our publishing team bade each other goodnight knowing full well that the next day was when the real work would begin.
After a night of wondering why London can never keep quiet, I met up with Angie Lake, fellow author and amazing woman, outside the hotel and we made our way to Olympia, where we stood in a hundred-yard line and got fake snowed on. My first sight of the Ideal Home Show momentarily left me speechless. (Not a good thing when words are your chosen livelihood!) The glass ceiling had a giant Christmas tree made from twinkle lights, which were hanging over stalls selling more goods than I could ever have anticipated. The country girl was no longer in Kansas.
I followed Cecilia, my editor, up to the balcony where I was greeted with a poster of myself and a ‘meet-the-author’ sign … oh, what dreams may come! There wasn’t much time to take everything in (a pile of 2000 of my own books, as well as a four storey cake with a giant horse head topper) as the fair opened to the public, and before I knew it my first book had launched and I was signing my first autograph.
I spent the next eight hours signing books and gossiping with Angie, the author of Danny Dingle’s Fantastic Finds, and Andrew, the production editor. When I was able to finally break away, I stole Cecilia and we spent thirty minutes taste testing everything from fudge to hot sauce and everything in between. (Who knew that mead could taste so good?) When the fair closed, Angie and I sat next to a family of Christmas trees and drank to our first successful day.
Cue a hangover the next morning, and off I went to the show for eleven hours of signing, only this time I got to do three book readings and a few interviews.
Dinner was a vegetarian hot dog, which had to be eaten while hidden on the floor behind Andrew (and even then I had to get up to sign two books mid-meal). By the time I got back to my hotel room, I was so exhausted I had to drag my bag in and I had completely forgotten how to take off my shoes (the tea still hadn’t made itself by this point).
By the end of the third day, my most favourite part of book signing was the look of sheer delight on the faces of the kids as you wrote their names and handed them the books back. I began to get overly excited whenever I looked up and saw a little girl waiting with my book in her hands.
The last day at the fair ended with Angie and I having dinner with Cecilia and Fiona in their hotel room and discussing our favourite topic in the world … books!
At one in the morning, I bade the girls goodbye and went back to my room for the last time. As I lay listening to the never-ending noise of London, I was extremely thankful for the wonderful opportunity of launching my book in a winter wonderland under a great glass ceiling with lovely authors on either side of me, and hard-working Sweet Cherries running around and making the experience a magical one.
We’ll be back next year, right? (Well … after my hand recovers!)