There was to be a Chicken House brunch and the chance to sign the first copies of my book at YALC - which is part of Comic Con.
Let me get this straight...' said my husband, '...you want us to pop into Kensington in London on our way to Gara Rock in Devon?'Well - yes - it seemed perfectly reasonable to me. Because YALC!
So there I am reading my book at the Chicken House Brunch, which was in the Betty Blythe Vintage Tearooms - they were very pretty but (on that day) VERY hot. I was as nervous as always, but also found I was really looking forward to seeing everyone. I love Barry, Jazz, Kes and Laura from Chicken House - they're worth any amount of nervousness! And there were a few bloggers who had said so many lovely things about Darkmere, I was desperate to thank them in person.
There I am with Lily, Chelle, Sally and Michelle - who are all (possibly) trying to wriggle out of yet another of my awkward hugs. It was also great to see the other Chicken House writers - Lisa Drakeford, Sam Hepburn, Lucy Inglis, Lucy Ivison and Tom Ellen who were reading from their books and answering Barry's questions.
I really didn't believe I'd be asked to sign anything. Even when people asked me to sign their copies of Darkmere, I still didn't believe them. I laughed, thinking they were joking - which left them standing in front of me, flapping their books in bemusement. I still can't believe it now - weeks later!
But there I am - signing! I think the first two I signed were for Morag and Lorna Haddow - who gave me my earliest ratings on Goodreads and who were both so glamorous and lovely I can't quite believe I didn't imagine them.
After the brunch, everyone headed off to YALC. Some of the bloggers had heard there was quite a queue building up already and scurried away early. I waited at the tearoom for Laura and Jazz to finish packing away all the complimentary books, bookmarks and tote bags they'd brought with them from the Chicken House HQ, then we did that stupendously cool thing of walking past the queue.
I have never jumped such a long queue in my life! And I tried not to enjoy it - I really did - but the queue went on forever - all along Blythe Road, around the corners of buildings - not just single file,but groups of three or four or more - teens with totes full of books, cosplayers, all the bloggers who'd been at the brunch - and we sauntered past them with our lanyards that said 'CREW'. Security men with walkie-talkies showed us into a sort of vast underground garage/hangar and into a room-sized, industrial lift, already filled with stacks of extra chairs for the talks and trolleys filled with gigantic glass jugs of ice for the cafe, and I felt more excited than ever. The second YALC was starting and I was going in ahead of the crowd.
I walked around this vast empty space before it filled up (that photo's only a third of the room!) - and my eyeballs started to ache with all the staring. I kept seeing writers and bloggers I recognised from the internet. The moment I reached the second floor, Christina Courtenay (who've I've mentioned a lot in past posts) wandered past me and I gushed embarrassingly about being inspired by her books. She glanced at Darkmere and told me she'd already read it. 'Oh, it's much better than mine,' she said casually. I think I stopped gushing and just gaped at her...
I bought the first 2015 YALC T-shirt to go on sale!
Then ticket-holders began to trickle in and I watched real people buying copies of my book - lots of copies in fact - they sold out! I signed and signed and signed! And I got to hug everyone who said kind things about my writing. The atmosphere was amazing. I was in a sort of trance of disbelief and happiness.
I wasn't there very long. I missed all the blogging and writing panels and the Harry Potter party and the Hunger Games quiz. And I didn't meet a lot of the bloggers and writers I would've liked to have said 'Hi' to...but it was still one of the best afternoons of my life. Ever.
I was still grinning all the way to Gara Rock. Even though the last few miles of our journey were along titchy, twisty country lanes in the pitch darkness. The headlights picked out weeds growing along the middle of the road, overhanging greenery brushed both sides of the car and we met no other traffic. Even when we arrived, the apartments and cottages all seemed deserted. It was creepy.
But we woke up to this...
Hope you're all having an equally lovely summer. Next post will be from a published author!