I’m very, very excited today (so excited, in fact, that I have saved the blog I was going to post today for another time so I could share this instead!) Here’s why…
Waterstones Hampstead have just – today – made the announcement that they are holding a public launch event for my first YA novel, Read Me Like A Book.
Regular followers of this blog will know what this book means to me. For those who don’t, you could have a quick catch up by checking out this blog…or just read on.
Read Me Like A Book was the first novel I wrote. But somewhere in the middle of writing it, I also started thinking up a children’s story about a girl who becomes a mermaid when she goes in water. The girl was Emily Windsnap, and her series is swimming nicely in waters all around the world. On the other hand, nobody wanted to publish Read Me Like A Book. The book was about a seventeen-year-old girl coming out, and LGBT issues were not de rigueur back then. A nasty little law known as Section 28 was still in place, and many people – publishers, teachers, librarians etc etc – were kept firmly in place by its instruction not to ‘promote homosexuality.’
But let’s not dwell on that right now, because today we’re EXCITED. So let’s skip forward a decade or so and briefly glance at my mobile phone from a day in November 2013. I’ve just had a very special lunch where my wonderful agent has told my lovely publisher that we want to publish the book. Too many things had been happening that had made me want to stop sitting idly by, and instead want be part of the movement that was telling young people it is OK to be whoever you are.
Following the meeting, my phone beeps. It’s my publisher. The text says: ‘Looking forward to reading the manuscript again. Times have changed and we are ready to move with them.’
That text pretty much kept me warm all winter.
Skip forward again. To early-ish this year. The book is due out in May. Proofs are out and about. People are talking about it. A couple of HUGE names in the book world have read it and given me quotes for the cover. The Bookseller's Charlotte Eyre mentions it in passing on Radio Four's Open Book! People are TALKING ABOUT IT!
Even though this is going to be my fifteenth book to be published, I feel like a debut author. And in a way, I am. Because this was – and always will be – the first novel I wrote. It is also the first YA book I have published. Perhaps it is the first big risk I’ve taken in my career. It’s certainly the first time I have put something out there that feels quite so important and personal for me. See, the mermaids and the fairies and the time travel books – they came from me, they have things in them that are deeply important to me. They are like my babies, all of them. But to write a book about a girl discovering her lesbian identity, when you have recently come out publicly yourself – that takes the excitement, the risk, the nerves to a WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOLE new level!
So let’s get to the point.
The point is that today, Waterstones in Hampstead have announced the event that they are hosting to launch my special baby out into the world. It is a public event, which means a) it is open to anyone and everyone and b) it is ticketed. Tickets are £5 (or £3 with a Waterstones card). However, I think they’re quite good value, because as well as listening to me talk about the book, you also get a glass of Prosecco and £2 off the book on the night!
And if all of this wasn’t exciting enough (it isn’t. Read on) we have got the most wonderful special guest taking part.
Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive of the incredible LGBT campaigning group Stonewall, is my guest speaker!!!
I don’t know about you, but I am practically hyperventilating with excitement about all of this. (OK, some of it is nerves – but mostly excitement. And I am probably more excited than you are, to be fair.)
The date of the launch (and publication of the book) is May 14th. It's at 6.45 pm. And you are ALL INVITED!!!! If you want to come, get in touch with Yael Tishchler from Waterstones, who is organising the event. Here’s how you can do that:
Call her on: 0207 794 1098
Tweet her via @WaterstonesNW3 or @TischforTat
Or use some other old-fangled way of getting in touch with her at Waterstones Hampstead.
Hope to see you there - and thank you for letting me shout about this today. (I might have burst otherwise.)