It was a long haul from our village to London, especially in festive Friday afternoon traffic, but every mile was worth it. At The Sun pub in Covent Garden, we filled the cosy room upstairs with our books and cupcakes, but most importantly, it was filled to capacity with lovely, kind people who came to support Llama Sutra and When Planets Slip Their Tracks.
Many thanks go to Sara-Mae Tuson, editorial director at InkTears, and Agnes Meadows from Loose Muse for all their enthusiasm and hard work organising and hosting the event.
|Melanie's beautiful book, Llama Sutra, with stunning cupcakes|
Although I was meeting Melanie Whipman for the first time, I immediately felt as if we had known each other forever. Writers often have an instinctive connection with one another, but Melanie is so lovely, it would be impossible for anyone not to be entranced by her straightaway. She and I both read from our books and the audience was incredibly warm and responsive. I had found it hard to choose which story to read and the one I eventually picked demanded my dodgy northern accent. (Had to apologise to anyone hailing from Bradford.)
|When Planets Slip Their Tracks with their matching (only slightly dog-eared) cupcakes, which somehow survived the journey. Melanie brought hers on the train without mishap!|
I loved every minute of reading aloud and then socialising and signing books afterwards. I was overwhelmed to meet in real life some very lovely Twitter friends and fabulous fellow writers. Thank you so much to the brilliant and lovely Fiona Mitchell, CG Menon and Sarah Hegarty. I was truly overjoyed to see you there and hope we meet again soon.
|Mel and I with each other's books. I'm so looking forward to reading Llama Sutra.|
I was very touched and thrilled to see my cousins, Brenda and Andrea, at the event too. Staunch supporters of both my books, they have suffered a heartbreaking event this year, so to see them set aside everything they are going through to be there for Planets meant the world to me. And long-standing (I didn't say old!) friends, Ian and Janet, who were the usher and bridesmaid at my wedding thirty-two million years ago, have also been an absolute pillar of support and it was truly wonderful that they could come too.
The hubster, Adrian, did all the driving - six hours of it, including an unscheduled U-turn in the middle of Piccadilly Circus, during which, incredibly, no one hooted us. Our three daughters came with us as well, having helped with all the preparations. I know that not all writers have this amount of family support, so I feel blessed and grateful to them all for never failing to be enthusiastic. I don't really deserve it - I didn't even think to bring any food with us (apart from the hallowed cupcakes) and as soon as we pulled up in Drury Lane the girls made an emergency dash to Pret.
|Thank you to our daughters, Georgia, Alexandra and Olivia, for always being there.|
Books are the perfect companion for solitude, but this event was a great example of how reading also brings people together. The old-fashioned way of story-telling by reading aloud was so well received, with several people saying afterwards how relaxing and comforting it was to be read to and how it reminded them of the quiet afternoons at infant/junior school, just before home-time, when the teacher's voice softened and everyone calmed down from the excitement of the day.
|Having the time of my life reading from Planets|
I had a fabulous surprise when I arrived home - a very positive review from the lovely author and reviewer, Jen Campbell (no relation). She has a very informative, entertaining and highly regarded YouTube channel where she talks engagingly and intelligently about the great variety of books she reads. I was thrilled enough that she was keen to read Planets, but when I saw her speak with such enthusiasm about it here, it was the icing on the cake.
Thank you so much to all my friends and family who have showed such support for me and my writing throughout the year. Writers may disappear to work alone throughout all their early drafts, but they can't share their words single-handedly.