Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Branford Boase Award and New Cover...

In case you didn't hear about this, a few weeks ago Infinite Sky won the Branford Boase Award. It was up against Rob Lloyd Jones' Wild Boy, Ross Montgomery's Alex the Dog and the Unopenable Door, Natasha Carthew's Winter Damage, Julia Mayhew's Red Ink, Fletcher Moss's The Poison Boy and Holly Smale's Geek Girl, and I was thrilled to get to take home the prize.

It was a lovely evening, with lots of wine and canapes and talk about books. The event takes place at Walker Books, and the room we were in had been decorated with butterflies and looked grand. There were some speeches from the prize's organisers, judges, Venetia and me, and then lots of photographs. After that my publisher took me out for a delicious dinner.

The Branford Boase Award is special because it celebrates the relationship between author and editor. It was set up to remember Henrietta Branford, author of Dimanche Diller and Fire, Bed and Bone and her editor, Wendy Boase. Both died of cancer in 1999, and the award was created in their memory to promote the importance of nurturing new writing talent, and to celebrate their relationship.

I collected the award with Venetia Gosling, who aquired Infinite Sky, and now publishes books at MacMillan, and it was lovely to catch up with her at the party.

As well as the Branford Boase Award, the Henrietta Branford Writing Competition was being celebrated, and so I was delighted to meet lots of young writers too. They ranged from around 11 to 18, I think, and it was nice to hear about their stories too.

The story was picked up by the BBC and Martin Chilton from the Telegraph (who wrote the first ever broadsheet review of Infinite Sky) interviewed me about Infinite Sky and what I'm working on at the moment. Also, Michael Thorn wrote a detailed blog post about the event.

To celebrate the win, Simon and Schuster released a new paperback edition of Infinite Sky, which I think is rather beautiful. What do you think?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Part two: Infinite Sky goes to North America


Not so long ago I posted part one of Infinite Sky's visit to North America, so here is part two about the Summer Lovin' 2.0 Tour of California, which I did with fellow Simon and Schuster writers (and ubermensch) Sarah Ockler, Suzanne Young and Jody Casella.

We hadn't met before, and I was a little apprehensive about spending six days on the road with New People. I worried that I would get exhausted from constant bra-wearing and around the clock professionalism - I've never been good at multi-tasking - but I needn't have been anxious.

Jody, Sarah and Suzanne turned out to be wonderful people, as well as talented writers, and I recognised them immediately at LA airport, where they were waiting to collect me with our lovely media escort, Ann. We hugged, feeling like we already knew each other a bit from our electronic interactions, and we were all travel-tired and tour-excited as we drove to the Beverly Hilton where we would be staying.

Arriving we saw lots of journalists and people in headsets rushing around, and discovered that the Daytime Emmy Awards in full swing. Our first book signing wasn't for a couple of hours, and so we spent some time in the foyer getting to know each other better, googling who might be at the Emmys, and plotting to get our books photographed on the red carpet/snog a famous person/eat all the canap├ęs at the party.

Our first event at Mission Viejo Library was great, and I loved hearing Jody, Sarah and Suzanne talk about the writing process behind their books and their journeys to publication. They are all so funny and warm and intelligent, and I felt very happy to be sitting beside them, with six more California days ahead of us.

Suzanne signing copies of The Program

After telling our stories, we answered questions and chatted with readers, signed lots of books and ate pizza that Simon and Schuster provided for each event. We were also given lots of lovely cakes by the librarians at Mission Viejo.

We tried to use these as Emmy invitations but the doormen were not fooled.

By the time we returned to Beverly Hills, our hotel lobby was full of thin, shiny people in high shoes. It was hard to tell who was famous and who was interloper, and I went upstairs to put on high shoes and see if I could expand this mystery.

We decided to have dinner together in the hotel restaurant, and were delighted to find the Emmys after-party playing out around the blue, glowing pool beyond our window. We watched Sharon Osborne and lots of other famous people that mainly Suzanne recognised as though they were zoo creatures, while we chatted about books and life, and drank wine.

It was a glorious first night, and Sarah, Jody, Suzanne and I were well on our way to becoming The Ultimate Dream Team. We even managed to get our photos taken on the red carpet with our books (Jody is missing alas as she had to go to bed due to tiredness and pain medication).

Dreams can come true.
In the next days and nights of the tour, between meeting readers and booksellers across California, we would have our photos taken (and fall in love with) Some Guy from The Vampire Diaries, spot Mark Zuckerburg in his natural environment, and visit Nova Ren Suma and her workshop at the insanely beautiful Djerrassi Writers Retreat.