Friday, 8 May 2009
Warriors of Richmond: N M Browne
It took me a while to work out that for most of us who are not best sellers – if you want something doing do it yourself.
I wanted to do something a bit special for my latest book: ‘Warriors of Ethandun’ because it was the final part of a trilogy the first volume of which was published in 2000. ‘Warriors of Alavna,’that first book was also my first novel and in many ways the one that spoke most directly to kids so I’ve always felt that as a whole the series had quite a lot of commercial potential. Bloomsbury have re-jacketed the earlier two volumes and produced some gorgeous covers so it made sense to re-launch the whole series.
The trilogy is a historical fantasy in which my two protagonists, popular sporty Dan, and tall and lumpy Ursula cross 'The Veil' to go back in time. They become warriors, become changed by magic and fight with Celts against Romans, with King Arthur’s Romano- Brits against Saxons, and, in the last volume, with King Alfred’s Saxons against Vikings. So, I thought, why not try to organise a launch at the Museum of London? Um ...because it costs a couple of grand to hire it perhaps?
Their publicist was great, slightly embarassed to be dealing with someone so obviously clueless – 'why don’t you have a picnic by the statue of King Alfred? Why don’t you use pictures ? Why don’t you....?' She was so positive she inspired me to think again. Why didn’t I use a local book shop and ship in some re- enactors?
I did a signing last year with my local Waterstones and they called me to arrange another just as I was wondering how to proceed ie just in time to wake me from my usual torpor. After a little to and fro ing we agreed that I would do a signing on my launch day while the shop was open followed by a launch party while the shop was closed. My publisher produced flyers, Waterstones did a window display and some in store publicity all I had to do was drag in some people.
Unfortunately all the re-enactors we knew were already doing gigs for the Bank Holiday, but for reasons too complex to mention I have an armoury of replica weapons in my basement. My husband, my chief supporter, armourer and collector of stuff kitted out two Celts, two Romans, an archer and a dark age warrior using spare children I had lying around the house. Because they had (blunted)weapons I took out re enactors insurance and informed the council, but there wasn’t a problem and on May 4th this rather anachronistic army marched through Richmond handing out flyers, while a friend took photos.
I was also lucky enough to have a great review in the Saturday Times, so I blew that up and flogged some books...
Waterstones were very happy because we created a general buzz around the store. I was happy partly because I drank plenty of rather nice Cava, but also because the whole day was huge fun. Yes, by the time I’d paid for drinks and gone out to dinner I was out of pocket, but at least I felt that I did my trilogy proud and maybe some kid walking through Richmond seeing a half naked Celt by the traffic lights might get inspired to find out more...