Before today, I’d never been to a book event or signing or whatever. Well, that depends how you define book event, because Caroline Lawrence came to our local library when I was about ten and talked about Romans and the fact she was Australian (or something?), and I’ve watched John Green sign books on live feed on YouTube, but I’ve never actually talked to an author and got a book signed and stuff.
Except today, because there would be absolutely no point me writing a blog post just to tell you about the fact I’ve never been bothered to go to a book event. Would there? I don’t know, people blog about all sorts of things these days.
(As do I, as my search engine terms proved. At least, when I remember to blog. I’ve had writer’s block this week so I don’t even have the excuse that I was busy with NaNoWriMo, since yesterday’s wordcount was 278 words… And I know I say I don’t believe in writer’s block. I don’t, until I’ve got it.)
So, back on topic, I went to Foyles in London to see Maggie Stiefvater. For those that don’t know, she wrote Linger, Shiver and Forever books – the Wolves of Mercy Falls. I’ve read them, but the ones I really like are Lament and Ballad, because, well, they’re about fairies and music and all the stuff I write about. Sorry, faeries. I spell it the normal way, but hey. Ballad, just as a side note, is a book I wish I’d written. The book, in fact.
She’s also just realised another book, The Scorpio Races, which I bought today. It’s signed! In orange Sharpie! But I’ll get to that in a minute.
I went with three friends – two friends and a friend’s boyfriend whom I didn’t know all that well, to be more precise. The friend and boyfriend were supposed to meet us at Charing Cross – they’re on a different train line – but when they texted to say their train wasn’t arriving in Woolwich until 1:15 (the event started at 1:30 and we’d been intending to meet at the station at 1:00), we gave up and went without them. And got lost.
In fact, we ended up near Covent Garden, which was fun. Then we tried to use SatNav on my friend’s phone, but that was useless. I don’t trust those things and I was right not to – it got us back to Charing Cross, and then started redirecting us all over the place. I mean, really? Is it worth it?
We arrived, after much fast walking to his annoyance (he only recently got off crutches), and lots of “How long is this flipping road?” exclamations from me, at a quarter to two. Upon reaching the third floor, we gave our names to the lady with the list, and explained that two members of our party were still on their way, and joined the back of the epically long queue. The event, it would seem, had not yet started.
Anyway, we went into the Gallery at last, found seats – along with a ‘proof copy’ of a book by someone I’d never heard of, which I’ll read and review here when I get around to it, as I think that’s the point – and waited for it to start. The other two came in after about ten minutes and managed to nab two seats not too far away, but it was a little annoying not to sit with them.
Maggie Stiefvater began by introducing ‘Jonas and Plunkett’, a band whose single, Spaceship, was on her playlist while she wrote one of her books. I’m a convert – I love it. So, I will probably buy it when my bank balance has recovered. She then gave a talk on her “10 points to writing a Maggie Stiefvater novel”, which can I just say was hilarious.
It mostly consisted of how she laughs when she kills characters.
But anyway, she then opened the floor for questions and people were generally shy, as we English are prone to be. She also told stories of the day she hit the NYT Bestseller List (she found out ten minutes into a flight, on her dad’s cell phone which shouldn’t have been on at all, for which the stewardess did not forgive her) and how you shouldn’t make truffle brownies with Warner Bros. on the phone (they burn).
I asked if there was going to be another book after Lament and Ballad. Yes, she said, it had always been planned, but it hadn’t ‘jumped’ the way other ideas had jumped, it had fallen in a ditch. And then it was crawling out when Shiver, Linger and Forever kicked it in. Then it got up again, but Scorpio Races kicked it too. And then her next novel kicked it. It’s in her brain though, she says, but if it doesn’t jump this time she’ll shoot it in the head herself and put it out of its misery.
So, I look forward to it coming out :)
After the questions, she said she’d sign anything, so we all joined a huge queue with our books. The Foyles assistant expressed surprise that I have bookplates – there’s one inside Ballad. My sister bought me a pack at uni, and I put them in my favourite books, a couple each year. Ballad’s had one in since early 2010 (it was my Christmas present in 2009).
And when I got to the table, Maggie says, “Oh, I saw your tweet on Twitter and I recognised you straight away!” Yes, I’d tweeted that I’d be there in my hoodie with the bloody handprint and the PSYCHO MAGNET slogan, and she’d known it was me from the moment she saw me. My friend laughed at how happy I was about that.
She signed my books, I got a photo, then emptied my wallet actually paying for Scorpio Races (it’d better be worth it! hee hee), and we took the mickey out of my friend Jill, since Maggie accidentally wrote a B when starting her name and we thought it was hilarious. We’re now calling her Bill.
It was a hugely interesting afternoon. I think the reason I enjoyed it so much was because Maggie was very honest and funny, she didn’t just promote her books or talk about the successes she’d had, she talked about her brownies and her research and her family and how she wrote, and we all ended up laughing out loud at times. And the music was an added bonus.
So yes, definitely worth the train journey to London. I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into the Scorpio Races!
Readers, if you haven’t read Lament and Ballad yet, please do. Lament’s good, but Ballad is better by far. I would say just read that, but you should go for Lament first so you understand the context and all that. Maggie said to me it had been her favourite one, before she wrote The Scorpio Races, so I’m hoping I enjoy that a lot as well!