It began with a bang at the RadioActive studios and a live slot on the Caffeine and Aspirin 11am show. The first thing I saw when I walked in the waiting area was a fellow who had fallen asleep on the couch over a copy of Moby Dick. Hm, I thought, not a good omen for writers. I got to teasing him when he woke up but frankly… I’ve never managed get through Melville, either.
I’d never done a live radio gig before and naturally I managed to blank out on the very first question! I didn’t hear anything but the words, ‘realms of fantasy.’ I had no idea what the interviewer was asking. So I took a wild guess and answered anyway. I started talking about my childhood and how I’d always loved fantasy. Turns out he’d asked me exactly that… Hilarious.
The rest of the interview went quite smoothly for a newbie effort. I think I kicked the mike throughout. I kept laughing through the guy’s reactions because, well, they were funny. So if you catch the show you’ll hear a lot of me chuckling away in the background, and various suspicious sounding thumps and bumps. Apologies. We talked for a good twenty minutes, then signed off. After we were done we both realised we’d forgotten to talk about the launch! So he put me back on… After the show, I got to meet Adele Jackson who is the Storylines children’s book festival coordinator here in Wellington. Talk about a plus!
An hour or so later I was down at the Weta Cave, working myself into a flap about speaking in front of a roomful of people. The store manager Anna Willett was patient with me throughout. By the time I’d breathed deeply and counted to ten a veritable crowd had gathered and the temperature had risen to Mordor-orc-sweatshop levels. First up to speak was the lovely Tammy Ruffell of HarperCollins, who introduced me with so much praise that my ears sizzled, fell off and had to be picked up from the floor. Then it was yours truly up before the laughing crowd. I read a few pages of the Prologue and answered some excellent audience questions (which were not rigged! true story!)
Thereafter it was signing time. I signed. And signed. And signed. And signed some more. People bought armloads of books. For themselves, for their friends, for their third cousins and second aunties in deep Taranaki… I don’t know how many copies were sold yet, it must have been more than seventy. But in between all that signing came the best part: seeing and speaking to the people who had come to celebrate this milestone with me. I was feeling pretty overwhelmed by the end of it all, I must say.
There was one little highlight for me that sums up these feelings. Most people there were of course friends and acquaintances, people I’ve met on Facebook or Weta colleagues. They were there to show support and cheer me on, as well as (hopefully!) buy a cool book. But there were a few people with no connection to me who happened to wander into the Cave while all this was going on, and stayed to check out the book. Among them was a mother with her two pre-teen age children. The boy was keen to have a copy, and after his mum had vetted it for a few pages she agreed to buy one (I passed the ‘mum’ test, yay!) The girl asked me what the story was about. I briefly described the concept of the World Tree, a tree the size of the Himalayan mountain range, a tangle of leaves and branches many, many miles high…
The look on her face was classic. You could have scraped that kid’s jaw off the ground… She simply loved the idea of a giant tree. That was the first time I’d seen a complete stranger, a kid, who totally ‘got’ the story and was excited about it… And that, patient friends, was the most wonderful experience of all.
Here are a few snaps of the day:
Tymon’s Flight is now available throughout Australia and New Zealand. It is the first book in the Chronicles of the Tree, and Book Two, Samiha’s Song, will be out in February. Mary Victoria lives in New Zealand and is currently working on the second and third book in the Chronicles of the Tree trilogy.