Sunday, 19 February 2012

London (Part Two)

Ok, we've looked at the spoils I bought - but those were not the only books I dragged home on the train, because there were some lovely books handed out to us at the Bloomsbury event - more anon.  (I'm afraid uploading photos broke halfway through writing this, hence lack of pictures.)

There are quite a few publishers who have been in touch with me over the years, and although review copies do not flow at the rate they once did -  a combination of (for the world) the recession and (for my blog) a focus away from modern literature - I am very lucky to know some incredibly lovely people at these companies.  And two publishers (Bloomsbury and Sceptre, since you ask) tie for being the very most lovely.  Bloomsbury might just inch ahead, because although they don't have access to Debo Devonshire (I did once inform Nikki Barrow at Sceptre that I'd be very willing to put up the Duchess on my sofa, if she were ever visiting Oxford) Bloomsbury's Alice does exchange tales of baking disasters with me.  In my world, that's lovely.

So I was delighted when Alice got in touch and asked me if I'd like to attend a Tea Party with various other bloggers, some authors, and the various members of staff at Bloomsbury.  One quick reshuffle of my work days, and I RSVPed an eager 'yes!'


It was lovely to see some of my favourite bloggers again - amongst those I'd met before were Elaine, Karen, Kim, Jackie, Lynne, and Marcia/Lizzy Siddal.  New to me were Victoria/Litlove and Jane.  I think that's everyone, apologies if not!  It was especially wonderful to finally meet Victoria, after years of reading her blog - we didn't get to chat for that long, but she was just as great as I'd anticipated.  I barely spoke to Jane at the Tea, but we had a very animated chat whilst we waited for the post-tea event... more on that later!

It's always difficult (I assume) to organise these events - how do you make sure the authors get to see everyone?  How do you make it friendly and still get information across?  How the heck do you stop bloggers gabbing away to one another all night?  Well, Bloomsbury did it marvellously.  We had plenty of time to mingle and natter, meeting many Bloomsbury folks (indeed, re-meeting quite a few, whom I'd met at the launch for Kisses On A Postcard 2.5 years ago) and I especially enjoyed chatting with Katie Bond from the publicity department.  Katie had somehow found out my outrageous (but sadly true) statement that I have to be heartily persuaded to leave my comfort zone and read anything post-1950 - and she teased me about it, especially when she caught me leaving the party with an armful of books.

Those books being: William Boyd's Waiting for Sunrise, A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar by Suzanne Joinson, A Card from Angela Carter by Susannah Clapp, and The Forrests by Emily Perkins.

Boyd popped in briefly to sign copies and have a chat, in a maelstrom of visiting dozens of bookshops across London.  Joinson gave a lovely talk about her book, which made me desperately want to read it - actually I was most pleased by her discussion of her blog and what it's like when you meet someone who has read it.  I naively don't think about any of the non-commenters who read my blog (although statistics tell me they make up about 95% of my readership) and I'm always surprised when people in Real Life turn out to be lurkers.

I was most excited about hearing Kate Summerscale, who spoke very winningly, humbly yet convincingly about her upcoming book Mrs. Robinson's Disgrace, based on the real diaries of a disgraced Victorian wife (who, in turn, protested that they were her own imaginary scenarios, rather than fact, when her husband discovered them.)  Fascinating stuff, and I can't wait for copies to be available.

Alexandra Pringle, the doyenne of Bloomsbury, gave a wonderfully impassioned talk on behalf of several Bloomsbury titles, and the new venture Bloomsbury Circus - and it was eight words from her which made me desperate to get my hands on The Forrests by Emily Perkins: "It reminds me of Virginia Woolf's The Waves."  As Jackie pointed out, this statement could have the opposite effect - but it certainly did wonders for my keenness to read the novel.  It's out 24th May, but I snaffled away a copy... you'll be hearing more about that soon, and probably not just from me.

The fun and games couldn't last forever, sadly, and all too soon bloggers were donning coats, grabbing an extra book on the way to the door, and heading on their separate ways... except for three of us, that is, as Jane, Lynne, and I stayed behind to hear Susannah Clapp talk about Angela Carter (and A Card From Angela Carter) with Sir Christopher Frayling.  We were very lucky to get places, as it was sold out very early, and even lovely Alice couldn't get in.  I found it fascinating - not only the speakers, but more or less everyone in the room seemed to have known Angela, and had their anecdotes to share.  Carter is an author I am keen to explore, and this talk made me ten times keener.

All in all, a lovely day - thanks Bloomsbury!

18 comments:

  1. This sounds like such a lovely day!

    And I'm glad I'm not alone in being surprised to learn that people I know in real life lurk at least semi-regularly on my blog. I shouldn't be surprised since I have my posts fed into Facebook at my family's request, but I assume most people just ignore those posts. But then they mention a recent post in conversation, and it surprises me every time.

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    1. It is always surprising, isn't it! My life is in separate containers, and when they overlap, it feels odd...

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  2. Sounds like an absolutely wonderful day!

    I'm only slowly (after two years!) starting to tell friends and family about my blog and, knowing absolutely no one in publishing or any book-related profession, I've only recently starting thinking about having people I know lurk on my blog. My former housemate and still close friend just started a blog of her own where I do comment regularly and I know mutual friends read her blog and so presumably have found their way to me...but no one has made their presence known.

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    1. Wow, Claire, very secretive of you! My family were in on it from the beginning, and we were all a bit bewildered when lots of people started reading it, and I started getting review copies etc. Before that I definitely didn't know anyone in book-related professions.

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  3. I am jealous of all these wonderful book dos you attend! Here in Paris, I feel a bit excluded from all the UK blogger fun, but it's lovely to read all about it!

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    1. I am very lucky to be close to London, and able to attend these things - but there must be other Parisian bloggers... have a hunt!

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  4. I really hope we'll have another chance to meet and chat - there were so many questions I wanted to ask you about your dissertation! But it was SO lovely to meet at last. I thoroughly enjoyed the day, and I love the way you describe Kate Summerscale, who spoke so brilliantly about her book (I'm hoping to get hold of a copy of that too!). And Alexandra Pringle was marvellous, wasn't she? So regal and passionate at the same time. I think Jane was the one blogger I never got a chance to speak to - and I'm pleased you mention her because I can at least check out her blog now!

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    1. Next time!
      And Alexandra Pringle is quite something, isn't she? I chatted with her at another event, 2.5 years ago, and was very impressed by her.

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    2. Great write-up Simon, I had a brilliant afternoon and evening too, despite being ill ever since!

      It's great to have the links to everyone else who was there, as usual I was inadvertently antisocial and barely ended up chatting to anyone apart from the Bloomsbury crew (not by design, promise, I'm just too nosey when it comes to finding out what they're working on!), though I had a lot of fun exchanging fanfiction anecdotes with you (I still think Bloomsbury should have some sort of alarm that goes off if you mention HP erotica within their offices...).

      I too totally loved Alexandra Pringle as well, and I can't wait for the Circus launch!

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  5. Sounds like it was a lovely and well thought out event.

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    1. They did it very well, I have to say!

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  6. Whenever I read of your adventures with other bloggers I can't help feeling a little envious. You are so lucky! Sounds like you had a lovely time!

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    1. I am, aren't I! I would never have expected any of this when I started blogging - I never thought I'd meet other book bloggers, for a start, and I have had the privilege of meeting so many.

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  7. Sorry to have missed this, but I have been informed there is another Bloomsbury event on the horizon so maybe I will see you at that? Sounds a lovely day indeed.

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    1. I do hope so, Simon! It would be so nice to catch up in person.

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  8. It was a great day and here is my take on it
    http://randomjottings.typepad.com/random_jottings_of_an_ope/2012/02/all-i-want-is-a-room-in-bloombury.html

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  9. It sounds like a lovely day. Just imagine meeting all those fabulous bloggers! (Including you of course). It makes me a little jealous.

    As Teresa said above, it always surprises me to learn that real life people actually read my blog. I try not to think about it too much, because it could get embarrassing (I would probably not be able to write another word if I stopped to think about it too much). It's usually ignored, but from time to time someone makes a comment along the lines of "I saw you read this, I'm curious about it", or "I saw you bought this book and it's really good". It always makes me bluish and stumble a little. But it's nice, too.

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    1. I know! I know! It is nice, but so unexpected...

      And I'm very lucky, what with all the bloggers I've met. Living on a small island has its advantages sometimes!

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