Out in the World: the UK

I’ve been itching to blog for a while but it’s only now that I find I have the time to catch my breath.

The hardback of Secrets of the Tides launched in the UK in mid-April and two weeks ago I got to travel there on ‘official author business’. Thank you Orion, it was a great experience. Yes, I shed a few tears leaving my kids for the longest time since their arrival, but by the time I’d checked-onto the flight, revelled in the ease of negotiating an airport with just one small piece of hand luggage, and sipped my first glass of champagne it’s true I wasn’t feeling quite so distraught!

On landing, I spent the first twenty-four hours at my Mum’s house in Wiltshire. We visited her local bookshop, Ex Libris in Bradford-on-Avon where they had ordered in a few copies of Secrets of the Tides. It was exciting see it there in the flesh and to sign a few copies for some of Mum’s friends – apologies to those of you browbeaten into purchasing it by my over-enthusiastic mother!

Ex Libris, Bradford-on-Avon

Next up was beautiful Bath where we caught sight of Secrets in Waterstones and WHSmith, there rubbing shoulders with heavyweights such as George R. R. Martin and The Hunger Games!

Secrets brushing up against the mighty Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games

The following day heralded the start of a road trip through Dorset (the location of the novel) with Declan, the Orion sales rep for the region. We were lucky with the weather  – beautiful sunny blue skies the colour of my book jacket – and we travelled the coastal road from Bridport to Bournemouth, stopping at many bookshops along the way to meet with booksellers and sign copies of the book.

Waterstones, Bridport - in the 'local heroes' section

With Dee, Manager of Waterstones, Poole

Waterstones, Castlepoint, Bournemouth

The coastal road from Bridport to Weymouth

My trusty tour guide Declan

While there I also got to spend a few quiet moments at my grandparents’ grave in Chideock. Thanks Declan for the short detour, it meant so much!

The next morning I headed into London and joined my agent – Sarah Lutyens from Lutyens & Rubinstein – and some of her colleagues at the London Book Fair. I couldn’t believe the size of the place, the buzz, the masses of people all congregating to talk about books. I met my publishers from France, Germany, Sweden, Italy and Holland, the agents for Portuguese and Catalan rights and even bumped into a few old friends from my publishing days. Heleen and Joeska from The House of Books saved me from the jetlag droop with their stroopwafels … if you’ve never tried one I highly recommend them, sort of a caramel waffle biscuit – delicious!

And from there it was straight to Bluebird on the Kings Road where I joined some international booksellers and bestselling authors Antony Beever, Anthony Horowitz, Kate Mosse and William Landay (gulp!) – for an export dinner. I really did feel like a fraud, sitting amongst such stellar company but Mark Streatfeild and the Export team at Orion couldn’t have been more welcoming or the other authors more down-to-earth and generous. A definite ‘pinch myself’ moment.

Me with a friendly bookseller from Greece - at Bluebird. Jet lag kicking in right about now.

On Wednesday it was to Covent Garden with the marketing team from Orion where we made a short video about Secrets of the Tides. I found it strangely unnerving talking to a camera but special thanks to Louisa Gibbs and her crew for making it so painless. Then it was on to the BBC where I did my first ever (live!) radio interview.

BBC studios, Portland Place ... nervous smile!

I made it into a Tesco supermarket where I saw the book instore, bought a copy of Red magazine where they were advertising the book and stocked up on proper English Dairy Milk chocolate!

Secrets in Tesco

Red magazine - May issue

Then, after a quick change, I headed into Soho to the House of St. Barnabas where Orion were hosting a night with journalists, booksellers and a group of fellow female authors all publishing their novels this year. It was a glamorous, champagne-fuelled affair and after the event I sloped off for dinner in Soho with new author friends Lesley Loko, Julia Gregson and Liz Fenwick. It was so much fun to talk shop and realise that some of the feelings I’ve been having as a new author (nerves, elation, self-doubt) are completely normal.

Orion authors from left to right: Cherry Menlove, Me, Lesley Lokko, Erica James, Shelley Harris, Veronica Henry, Kate Mosse, Julia Gregson, Katherine Webb, Liz Fenwick

The last day of the tour involved a few business meetings in London – about which I hope I will be able to share more news soon – and a wonderful publication lunch with the talented crew at Orion at hot new restaurant Ceviche – amazing Peruvian food and great company. Then I was off to the BBC at Portland Place for a final live radio interview with the RTE Arena Arts Show. And then it all ended with a last visit to Orion House and then on to Lutyens and Rubinstein in Nottinghill where I was greeted with the news that translation rights for Secrets of the Tides had just been sold to Iceland, making it 13 translation territories to date! For once I got to do my happy dance in front of everyone at the agency, and then celebrate by buying more books in the shop upstairs – truly it’s one of the most beautiful bookstores in England, crammed full of exquisite finds. 21 Kensington Park Street, Nottinghill – go!

So then it was a rainy goodbye to London …

En route to Heathrow

… and hello sunny Sydney. I was itching to return to my family and this was a very welcome sight from the plane window as we came in to land at dawn:

Sun coming up on Sydney

So, a total whirlwind trip and a great experience, both from the point of view of seeing the hardback out there in the real world and also as an opportunity to meet such a talented bunch of people working in the book industry all around the globe. I owe a massive thank you to the entire team at Orion – particularly Gaby Young who arranged the trip – and all the booksellers and media who have supported the novel to date. I’ve said it before but it’s even more clear to me now that publishing really is a team sport and I feel so lucky to be part of such a talented and vibrant team.

And now I’m home? It’s time to launch Secrets of the Tides in Australia and New Zealand …