Ok, there is perhaps a slight exaggeration in the title of this piece but it pretty much describes how I’m feeling. It’s Monday and life should be back to normal but I’m still floating somewhere above Cloud 9.
On Thursday 19th July The Backstreets of Purgatory had its official launch party at Waterstones on Byres Road in Glasgow.
What a fantastic night. Even with the chaos engendered by a wholly predictable technological failure. (Yes, I know, I shouldn’t have left it until midnight the night before to check that the computer and the projector were compatible, and yes, perhaps I should have checked earlier that there were in fact power leads for said projector.) The problems could have been overcome because I’d had the foresight to put the Caravaggio presentation on-line so that the audience could check their phones as I spoke. Only I was so emotional and in a flap that I forgot to mention it. The day was saved, however, by my glamorous assistant holding up A3 prints of the slides and waving them in the audience’s face.
Me in a flap
Judith and Holofernes
My glamorous assistant
To be honest, I’m not sure how many people were listening to me anyway because there was Irn Bru, cake and Tunnocks Teacakes to be had. I know the draw of Tunnocks Teacakes. And cake. I am in no way offended.
It was standing room only by the time I got started. It was an absolute joy for me to have an audience full of family and friends, and to meet some of the people I’ve only ever met on-line or spoken to on the phone. I still can’t believe how far some people travelled to be there. I can’t tell you how touched I was. And I was thrilled that Carlo from the University Café came along. The interview I did with him was one of my first blog posts here.
After the presentation on Caravaggio, I intended to do a reading from chapter 13, Judith and Holofernes. In keeping with the nature of the proceeding thus far, I discovered that I’d left my copy of The Backstreets of Purgatory in my room. Fortunately, there was a stack of copies for sale. (I put back the one I borrowed when I’d finished. Hopefully without trace of my sweaty shaking hands. Sometimes I think it is harder to do a presentation to a room full of friends than a room full of strangers.)
A great Q&A followed the reading. Laura Rorato from the University of Hull (who, unlike me, is a real Caravaggio expert) had some exceptional questions although I didn’t answer a couple of them I didn’t want to give away the ending of the novel. We’re going to do a more in-depth interview when we have the chance.
The overwhelming feeling for me, from Thursday night and from the whole experience of publishing with Unbound, is the warmth and generosity surrounding the book which comes from all the amazing people who supported it. It is brilliant to know that The Backstreets of Purgatory already has a substantial readership because of Unbound’s model. I hope that now that it is on general release, it will find some new readers too.
Photos by Alastair Cunningham and Alistair Braidwood
Judith and Holofernes by Caravaggio from Wikimedia
The special limited editions of The Backstreets of Purgatory have already reached some readers and it has been such a thrill to hear from people who are enjoying the novel. I love seeing it out in the real world. Here’s a selection of the photos that I’ve been sent over the last day or two. Looking good in the sunshine.
A few limited editions are still available from Unbound. The official publication date for the hardback is July 12th 2018. It will be available on Amazon and elsewhere. I must admit, I can hardly wait to see it in an actual bookshop. Sounds facile to say it but honestly, it is a dream come true.
Date for your diaries (if you are nearby): Thursday, July 19th, 7.30 pm at Waterstones on Byres Road in Glasgow. BOOK LAUNCH!! RSVP in the comments or via the contact form. The more the merrier!!
(Look, lots of exclamation marks. That’s because I’m just a tiny bit excited).
I’m very excited to be taking part in the opening event of this year’s Brontë Festival of Women’s Writing on Friday 22nd September at 7 pm. Yes, that’s tomorrow. Between house moves and dodgy phone lines, I haven’t had a chance to mention it here before now. If you are in the area, please come along. There will be a panel of us discussing self-promotion and marketing for writers. Useful for writers of all types, whether you have a traditional publishing contract or are going along the non-trad route. Writer and academic Laurie Garrison will be sharing her digital marketing expertise, novelist Sarah Dunnakey will be talking about her experience in a traditional setting and, instead of passing myself off as a crowdfunding expert, I’ll be confessing to my worst mistakes that I made during my campaign to fund The Backstreets of Purgatory.
The venue is Cobbles and Clay Café in the main street in Haworth. Other events in and around the Parsonage over the weekend include YA author Liz Flanagan running a writing workshop for girls, Adapting the Brontës with novelist Rachel Joyce and playwright Deborah McAndrew who will also be running a Writing for Stage event. The headline event on Saturday evening is Sarah Perry, author of The Essex Serpent which was Waterstones Book of the Year 2016.
I can’t wait to meet the other participants and attendees. And you, if you can make it. Directions below.