The perils and joys of a book launch...
A month on from the launch of The Chosen Queen and I have finally drawn breath enough to take a moment to record a little of that lovely day on this blog.
As I said, in my previous post I was nervous beforehand. I had that horrible sensation you get when you hold any sort of party and panic that no one is going to come, only this was in a great big open public space for maximum potential humiliation. I was in Waterstones Derby early on the day, checking on the medieval-style real ale, admiring the wonderful display of my books that the shop had very kindly sorted out for me, and feeling like a total idiot standing there as shoppers glanced curiously across. Two whole hours of this, I remember thinking, would be excruciating. Luckily though, as it turned out, I was overwhelmed by people.
My family, clearly, had no way out and it was wonderful to have them at my side, but I was also so very, very touched to see so many friends come along. There were people who’d known me as a child, friends from my university days, from bringing up children together, and from the school playground. There were some of my Open University students, both past and present, and then there were people who had seen me featured in the paper and had called in to support a local author. It was madness but fantastic madness and I actually felt like a ‘proper author’ for possibly the first time – although it still definitely felt surreal and as if it might be happening to someone else. This is where having a pen name turns out to be rather good, as for that day I could inhabit ‘Joanna Courtney’ as if she was someone slightly aside from everyday Joanna Barnden and really enjoy being her.
I was also lucky enough to be guarded by two of my very own Saxon huscarls. A huge thank you goes to Adrian Sanderson and Adrian Smith from Regia Angolorum for turning out to give the event a very authentic historical feel. I have to say I could get used to having my own, hunky bodyguard and would rather have liked to take them home with me, but sadly they had to go back to 1066 at the end of the signing…
It was wonderful signing books for people. It was wonderful hearing my lovely stepdaughter Emily reading out a little of The Chosen Queen (something I was too shy to do myself) and it was wonderful (if a little embarrassing) having my fantastic editor Natasha - who’d braved the roads north to come to Derby for the first time ever -speaking so kindly about the books.
Possibly the best moment of the whole day, though , was looking across the beautiful Waterstones shop and seeing my novel there on the shelf, below my two favourite historical authors – Elizabeth Chadwick and Phillipa Gregory.
After the signing, we’d invited everyone we knew back to our house for a bit of a celebration. This was something I regretted a little in the hectic time running up to the big day, but I felt strongly that so many people had supported me in the excruciatingly long run to this small publishing success and I wanted to thank them in the way I like the best – with a party. In the event, we had a wonderful time all the way to midnight and, indeed, beyond. Murdering my heroine (or her cake version) was a peculiar feeling but toasting her with champagne was fantastic and I’m so happy to see her out in the world at last.
A huge thank you to Waterstones, to Pan Macmillan, and to everyone who has supported me for making that happen. Roll on the next book…
THANKS FOR READING
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Hope to see you soon - Joanna