Saturday, 15 August 2009

Right, before I start...

..this picture was not taken today. Blue skies and fluffy white clouds. Pah! What are they? When I arrived at Charlotte Square this morning there was not a glimmer of August sun poking out from behind the iron grey clouds.
Oh the glamour!” I thought as I sheltered under the awning, decaff latte in one hand, spindly old brolley in the other. Now for some strange reason, I can’t imagine JK Rowling wading through ankle deep puddles in her summer pumps and dodging the tidal waves of water created by thoughtless taxi drivers. When I arrived at the entrance to the Edinburgh Book Festival I looked like a drowned rat. On the positive side the organisers of the festival had clearly considered the fact that this was Scotland in the summer so everything was under cover. Great! I made my way to the Children’s book shop where I was meeting Keith from Strident and one of the other authors from the team, John Ward. I spotted our display immediately - and there was "Bree McCready and the Half Heart Locket" staring me in the face! My book, on sale at the Edinburgh Book Festival! Another landmark moment. I sauntered over to take a peek and tried my best to listen in to the conversations of people who were perusing the books on show. I willed them to look in the direction of my book! When John and Keith arrived we got to work signing some of the copies that would be placed on the “signed by the author” display shelves. The tent was fast becoming a sauna - steamy and sweaty - and I began to wonder why I had bothered to straighten my hair that morning. Between the rain and the humidity I had began to resemble Russell Brand (only without the beard). Next stop - Waterstone’s at the West End of Princes Street to do some more signings. Then we were heading all the way along to the opposite end of town to their other branch.
I’m glad I wore comfy shoes” I thought to myself as we marched briskly towards our destinations. Maybe this time next year I’ll have my own personal chauffeur?.. With all this walking, combined with my “too busy and excited to eat” diet, by my estimations I should be able to join the Hollyoaks cast sometime late 2010! Turned out the branch at the East end of Edinburgh were still waiting for the copies of Bree to arrive so I had a last minute reprieve. I left John and Keith for a bit and went to theee most horrible pub/restaurant for a cup of coffee. I had imagined sitting somewhere airy and trendy, maybe a bit of jazz and some interesting people to watch as I prepared myself for the next stage of the promotional tour. I had an hour to relax and soak up some of the festival atmosphere before Keith, John and I met up again back at the Festival. The pub I went to shall remain nameless. Now, to be fair the minute I walked in and caught the faint whiff of sick I could have turned right around and gone somewhere else but by this point I was dying for a coffee and a wee seat. Really, without sounding too cruel this place was truly horrible. They didn’t have decaff coffee either so I settled for a (flat) lime and lemonade which came in a glass like the one you get at the dentist. I sat in a gloomy corner on a beer stained seat and signed some copies of sampler Bree’s (the one chapter tasters that are designed to whet the appetite. They are fab by the way) while I tried not to come into contact with the table. To put it kindly, I was glad I had brought my antibacterial gel with me. I nearly said to the staff “Do you know who I am?! Get this table cleaned pronto!” but I just sat quietly and smiled politely whenever they caught my eye. By this point my tummy was rumbling but I daren’t have put my life on the line by eating anything. And no interesting people to spy either. Just a wee old man nursing a pint and arguing with himself in the corner. I didn’t finish the juice, it had a sinister after taste but I did use the time to catch my breath and write some personal comments inside the “wee Bree’s” which I am now calling them. Time to leave the grotty pub - I nearly left my shoes behind because they got stuck on the tacky floor!
Back to the book festival for round two! Now this was my favourite part of the day. I had a whole pile of ‘samplers’ and this was my chance to meet the public and introduce myself to potential readers. I wandered around taking in some of the atmosphere (the sun had made its long overdue appearance by this point) and trying to spy children who looked like they might enjoy “Bree McCready and the Half Heart Locket”. It was such fun giving out the “wee Bree’s” and meeting so many great kids - who were really enthusiastic and chuffed to get a freebie. I even got chased for an autograph by a charming young lady called Emma. “Now that’s more like it!" I thought as I looked round to see where the paparazzi were hiding. My first request for an autograph, wow!
After a while I met up with Keith and John again and we wandered over to the author’s area which was the most amazing, hippy style tent with woven rugs scattered on the floor and fairy lights draped all around. I half expected to be asked to sit cross legged on the floor and light an incense stick! Luckily I wasn’t asked to do this - would have played havoc with my sciatica. I met some people from the Scottish Book Trust and then it was time to hand out some more samplers. I thought I had done really well to shift the pile of 30 copies that Keith had given me so imagine my face when he handed me his (rather heavy!) satchel full of hundreds of them!!
Where there’s a will, there’s a way” I thought as I bravely struggled to put the bag over my shoulder without toppling over. We all went our separate ways after that. I thought it made good sense to head back to the children’s book shop and the timing was great because just as I got there a whole load of kids came pouring out of the event tents and made a beeline for the shop. I managed to hand out all the samplers and I got the opportunity to meet lots of children who will hopefully decide they like the first chapter and buy the book. It was a buzz to see their faces light up when I told them I was the author and offered to sign it for them! So, not theee most glamorous day in the history of glam. I have blisters on my feet and writers cramp, a sore shoulder and muddy shoes but I also have a huge smile on my face! Another great day. Roll on next week for the mammoth tour!

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