Saturday, 30 November 2013

Dreamer down under

I have just divested myself of the jetlag I got from my most recent tour location: the Antipodes. On 9th November I was thrilled to be off to Australia and New Zealand to promote The Bone Season, and now I'm back in England, I'm even more thrilled to report that I had a wonderful time. I've wanted to visit that part of the world for most of my life, but it's so far away from the UK – a whopping 23 hours by plane, with one stopover in Abu Dhabi – that I never really considered it before I was invited by Bloomsbury Sydney. I've had so much support and love for The Bone Season from fans in Australia, and it was a real honour to finally visit. Here's what this dreamer did down under. 

If you don't have time to read this whole ramble, you can take a quick look at the Storify summary of my trip, put together by Bloomsbury Sydney. 

Book 2 update: I'm painfully close to hitting 80,000 words. Pretty sure I can finish by February. Apologies for how rushed this blog entry is – the manuscript is my priority!



The Booktopia team at Supanova
 
On 9 November, I was up at 4am to get my flight to Abu Dhabi. After seven hours in the air, I caught a second flight to Sydney, which took sixteen hours. Fortunately I slept for most of the way, but I didn't land until late in the evening on 10 November, where Brendan Fredericks from Bloomsbury, who was to be my chaperone for the Australian leg of the tour, picked me up. As I arrived late, I fell straight to sleep and managed to neatly avoid jetlag, despite my body clock running eleven hours ahead.

It was thundering with rain in Sydney, much to my horror – I'd packed for summer weather. Brendan and I picked up coffee before heading over to the Bloomsbury Sydney offices on George Street, where I met the wonderful team. The Sydney office was only founded quite recently, so the team is tiny compared to the buzzing HQ in London, but it meant I could meet everyone personally
– and considering how small the team is, they work bloody hard and do a brilliant job. After saying hello and eating croissants, I headed over to The Rocks with Brendan and Bethia Thomas, Digital Marketing Manager at Bloomsbury. The Rocks is a historic area of Sydney Harbour, established shortly after Australia's first European colony in 1788. One of the oldest places in The Rocks is Susannah Place Museum, an English-style working-class terrace built by Irish settlers in 1844. After picking up more macaroons (this was to become a random obsession), we went to our first bookshop, Pages and Pages, before having lunch at a quaint little florist-mixed-with-café called The Boat House on the beach. After lunch we went to Booktopia and Constant Reader, where I signed a few stacks of books and met the staff. Like the States, Australia still has a thriving indie scene, and it was great to see so many unique and interesting shops and dedicated booksellers. After a seagull-infested dinner, Brendan and I went on to the Sydney Opera House for a scintillating Game of Thrones event: George R. R. Martin in conversation with Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister) and Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark).

The next morning, I was on Channel 7's Sunrise before I did a series of interviews. In the evening, the Bloomsbury team took me out for a meal at the Lotus Dumpling Bar in The Rocks. I've always been slightly puzzled by people's love of dumplings – in the UK they're just lumps of soggy dough – but I was soon introduced to proper Asian dumplings, Sydney style. Jetlag almost put me to sleep at the table, but not before the team surprised me with a lemon birthday cake baked by Jenni

The next day, I visited a few more bookshops with Bethia and Brendan: Kinokuniya, Dymocks, Galaxy and Better Read Than Dead, where I got to meet some more readers, many of whom had been waiting for me in the shop for a long time before I arrived. In the evening, it was time for the Bone Season party at Bloomsbury Sydney. There had previously been an Australian launch at the Argyle Oracle, which I hadn't been able to attend, but this time I was present to sign books and meet people. The order for catering was "Oxford with a dystopian twist", which resulted in delightful delicacies like quails' eggs being passed around the room. I was thrilled to meet some bloggers, journalists and friends from Twitter, among them Krystal, Joy, Jaz and Simon. It was definitely my favourite night of the trip. Once again, the dreaded jetlag took me away a little earlier than I would have liked I was to spend most of the trip battling against it.  


Our first flight to Melbourne on Thursday was cancelled due to a "drainage issue" – this was the beginning of the end of my faith in Qantas – but Brendan and I managed to jump on another one. I was only in the city for a day and a night, but it left a big impression on me. It visibly revels in the arts, with experimental architecture and bookshops aplenty, and it feels more than a little European. The hotel we were staying at had a hilarious concierge, who opened the conversation by talking about twerking (which is, I suppose, one sure-fire way to make or break the ice). Our first stop was at Dymocks on Collins Street to sign a stack of books. We took a break for an amazing Vietnamese lunch – I tried the famous phở and sugar cane juice, both of which I loved – before heading to the next bookshop, Reader's Feast, where I got my hands on a hardback copy of Emily Dickinson's manuscript facsimiles. Finally, we headed across town to Avenue Bookstore, where I met some more Twitter friends, including Braiden Asciak.

On Friday, Brendan and I flew into Adelaide, where the sun was burning down. Brendan had made sure there was time for us to go up to the Cleland Wildlife Park, as I was desperate to see some Aussie critters. Cleland is an absolutely gorgeous place. I've never been too comfortable in zoos – you can almost see the animals losing their minds in those tiny enclosures – but this was far more open, with vast paddocks that you could just ramble through with the animals. I was able to cuddle a sleepy koala called Isaac, feed a small mob of kangaroos, see dingoes and pelicans, and watch tiny bandicoots bound around my ankles. Koalas are much bigger and heavier than I'd anticipated – I pictured them as tiny-teddy-sized, but they're pretty hefty, with long claws.      

Me with Michelle Fairley
After taking a taxi back down to the city, we headed to the Adelaide Showgrounds for the Supanova Pop Culture Expo 2013. Like any good expo, Supanova was full of fans, merchandise, and brilliant cosplay. There was a distinctly Game of Thrones-esque feeling in the air, as three actors from the show – Michelle Fairley, Jerome Flynn (Bronn) and Mark Addy (Robert Baratheon) – were attending, along with GRRM himself. There were lots of Daenerys Targaryens floating about, and even a choir, who were singing an eerie rendition of 'The Rains of Castamere' as they walked between the aisles. I'm a huge Game of Thrones fan, and I was both excited and terribly nervous to find myself sitting in the green room, as a 'Supa-Star Guest', with several of the people who created Westeros and brought it to life. There were several other sci-fi and fantasy authors in attendance, including Jay Kristoff (author of the Lotus War trilogy), Joel Shepherd (author of A Trial of Blood and Steel quartet and the Cassandra Kresnov series) and steampunk author Richard Harland, who was wearing an appropriately decorated hat with cogs on it. There were several of us sitting at the Booktopia stand, signing and chatting to readers. I was sat between Joel and Keri Arthur, author of the Riley Jenson series. It was a lovely, relaxed atmosphere. GRRM naturally had an enormous line of fans waiting for his signature, and it was fascinating to see all the costumes. During one of our lunch breaks in the green room, I was able to speak to Mr Martin and pick his brain about how he responds to the "strong female characters" question. He said that he simply thinks of his female characters as people, just like the male characters, and he says as much to anyone who asks him about it. 
 
I'd been far too nervous to speak to any of the actors, but lo and behold, Michelle Fairley sat down next to me and introduced herself. Michelle is my absolute favourite actress, so my reaction was similar to the one I had with Margaret Atwood: wide-eyed, mildly panicked gaping, irrational terror of embarrassing myself, followed by a vaguely coherent expression of admiration. Fortunately, she was incredibly warm and down-to-earth, and it turned out she'd heard about The Bone Season on breakfast TV! I also met Mark Addy, who was also incredibly kind and funny. Both of them asked for a signed copy of the book, which made my day. 

The next day, I flew back to Sydney before catching a flight to Auckland, where I was greeted by Abba from Allen & Unwin, who distribute Bloomsbury's books in New Zealand. I was only there for a day, and I was mostly confined to the hotel to do interviews, but I was stunned by how beautiful NZ is. I hope I can go back some day.



As always, I want to say a huge thank you to all the readers and bloggers in both Australia and New Zealand who took time out of their days to come and see me. It was nerve-racking to travel so far to promote the book, as a newly published author, but you made the 48 hours of flying worth every minute. Special thanks to Bloomsbury Sydney, and to Brendan and Abba for keeping me company. 

Samantha 

18 comments:

  1. EEEEP *hugs*

    I'm so happy Bloomsbury Syd invited you here, it was such an honour to meet you and be mentioned in this post :DDD

    How exciting that you got to meet GRRM and I'm so happy that Michelle Fairley and Mark Addy made your day by asking for signed copies of The Bone Season.

    Visit us again soon!

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    1. It was so lovely to meet you, too! I hope I can visit again :)

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  2. It looks like you had an amazing time in Australia & New Zealand! I'm glad you were able to go and that there are tons of fans of The Bone Season over there too. :)

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    1. It was such a wonderful trip! It was great to meet fans over there.

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  3. These are pretty cool adventures keep up!

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  4. I'm so glad you had time to sightsee while you were in Australia! :) If you spend that much time on a plane you should get to cuddle a koala!

    The greedy reader in me is thrilled that you're already 80K into the second book despite all your travelling!

    Happy writing

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  5. Hi there! anxiously awaiting like everyone else but I have a question (for those of us who have been out of school awhile and can't remember these things!). What does 80,000 words translate to? I know it is a lot but what does it mean page wise? How long was Bone Season as a comparison?
    Thank you!
    Amanda

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    1. Hello! I believe the first book ended up at about 130,000 words, but I needed to lay the foundations and do a fair bit of explanation in that one, so the sequel will most likely be a little bit shorter (somewhere between 110K and 120K).

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  6. You have a big fan here in Chicago. I just sort of happened upon your book on a reading list at my local library. I read it in a week on my train commute. Couldn't put it down! I absolutely loved it and can't wait for the second one! This will be the first series I've ever read in "real time". I've been spoiled by sticking to series that are several years old so I have all the sequels at my disposal. Waiting for six more books is going to be hard ;)

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    1. Glad to hear that! I'll try not to make the wait between books too long.

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  7. I just wanted to tell you that I saw The Bone Season in a book store in Turku, one of the biggest cities in Finland! :)

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  8. Good Evening! I hope your book tour is going excellent! I am halfway done with the bone season right now. I'm taking it slow because it is the best book that I have ever read. Your skill for world building and character development in especially Paige and Warden are extraordinary! Sheol 1 is very vivid in my mind just like when i read about Hogwarts, District 12 & 13, and Middle-Earth. However, this book and its setting is by far my favorite of them all! Good luck with the rest of your writing! You are amazing! Thank you for opening the world to your exceptional mind!
    P.S. I hope that whenever the process of the movie adaptation with Andy Serkis production company and twentieth century fox gets in full swing I hope that like you can have like a cameo in it! Would you like to be in the movie in that way? And do you have any thoughts on who you think could play Paige in the movie?

    P.P.S. - I'm sorry for this very long post but I would like to say how amazing you are! You have an exceptional gift! THANK YOU FOR sharing it with us!

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    1. Hi Micah,

      Thanks for your kind words! I'm so glad you're enjoying TBS. I'd love to have a cameo in the movie, although I'm not sure what sort of cameo it would be... perhaps one of the red-jackets at Nashira's feast. That might be fun. As for who could play Paige in the movie – I'm not sure. I have a very clear picture of her in my head. I've seen a few fan castings on Tumblr, and the closest actress I've seen in terms of looks is Imogen Poots (28 Weeks Later). The Northern Irish actress Jayne Wisener also looks quite like her.

      Samantha

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  9. I finished the book one hour before. The first thing I did is to find out if there is a second book. Thank God I found this blog. I have a wish to make. To be published in Greece as soon as possible. I love Fantasy and I loved your book.
    Thank you.

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