Headline Bloggers Party

Last week I went to the fantastic Headline Bloggers Party in London. After meeting up with my new BFF, Amanda, from Floor to Ceiling Books, at Waterloo, we made our way to Headline Towers an hour early so that we could have a coffee and a gossip first. On the way we happened to run into a group of other bloggers who had also arrived early, and who came along with us. There was Jenny from Wondrous Reads; Sophie from So Many Books, So Little Time; Carla from The Crooked Shelf; and Carolyn from Book Chick City. I had never met any of them before so it was great to have a proper chat before the event, and put some names to faces.

I’ve seen that a couple of these lovely ladies have hinted at scams on their blogs. Despite the merciless teasing at the time, it seems they’re all too polite to name and shame me outright but I’ll do it happily enough – it was me. I’m the one who got scammed. Whilst we were sat there drinking coffee, a rather sleazy looking guy in a cheap suit came up and said he’d left his oyster card at home, that he had a meeting to get to in the next ten minutes, and that he wanted two pounds for the bus. It was so obviously a scam, but I’m ashamed to say that whilst the others treated this request with the cool scepticism it undoubtedly deserved, I was practically lunging for my wallet. Even though I knew it was probably a scam, I just couldn’t stop myself. It’s quite embarrassing really, when you consider that my Headline book is all about a conman. I ought to know better. So if any readers of my blog happen to meet me in the flesh, please don’t ask me for money, because I will probably give it to you. I’m just a sucker that way. Sometimes I wonder how I manage to survive out there in the real world. The one inside my head is so much easier to cope with.

Moving swiftly on – the event at Headline was brilliant. There was a big table heavily laden with cakes and other food, and the room was stuffed with books for people to help themselves to. There were loads of lovely bloggers there to chat to, and it was great to meet the five other Headline authors – Dan Wells, Carole Matthews, Paul Magrs, Sean Cregan and Jonathan L Howard.

I did some schmoozing, signed some books, had some laughs, grinned like a fool for some photos, yadda yadda. And then the authors were split up for the quiz. I was in a team with Carla from the Crooked Shelf, Sophie from So Many Books, So Little Time, and Becky from the Bookette. We . . . er . . . didn’t do terribly well, but there were only four of us in our little team, compared to a whopping six in the winning team. If we’d had six people, we would have won that shiny trophy for sure!

After all that we went to the pub for some well-deserved beer. Much fun was had, and I was delighted that the midnight train was running for once. Unfortunately I did make a small fool of myself on the train on the way back home. Whilst attempting to put my Burger King bag in the bin (don’t worry, it was a veggie burger – I wasn’t that drunk), the lid snapped shut and pulled my ring off – just as we were pulling into my station. It may be a cheap, plastic, Jack Skellington ring from Disneyland but I love it dearly (partly because it reminds me of the singing ring in The Tenth Kingdom), and they don’t make ‘em like that any more – I know because there was this other time when I thought I’d lost it and tried to get another one online, only to find there were none to be had. Of course, it fell right to the bottom, so I’m afraid I had to resort to shoving my hand in, grabbing pieces of rubbish, and throwing them out like a crazy hobo person. An expensively dressed hobo, to be sure, but a hobo nevertheless. This was shortly before 2am and, trust me, you really don’t want to know what kind of stuff is inside a train bin at that hour. But I wasn’t forsaking Jack and – damn it! – I managed to get that ring, and even stuff most of the rubbish back in the bin before I leapt from the train – even managing to land on my feet despite the high-heeled boots – just mere seconds before it was pulling out of the platform! Oh yes, it’s an exciting life being an author. And fear not, I washed my hands, and the ring, most thoroughly when I got home.

I didn’t take my camera to the Headline event, so I don’t have pictures, but if you head over to Wondrous Reads (http://www.wondrousreads.com/2010/03/event-report-headline-meets-online.html) and Floor to Ceiling Books (http://floor-to-ceiling-books.blogspot.com/2010/03/headline-party-ftcb-on-tour.html), both these fine blogs have some great snaps of the event. Many congrats to Sam Eades, and all the other lovely ladies at Headline for the very first bloggers party being such a success!

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Parties and Panels

There’s been a lot going on this week, which means I have not managed much writing. But I have enjoyed a rare burst of social activity that should keep my recluse metre topped up for the foreseeable future so that I can get some actual work done.

The Gollancz party on Thursday was splendid as always. I met (and re-met) Gavin Smith and Sam Sykes – new authors for next year who I expect to be deeply envious of some time soon. I had several people express their shock and horror at the fact that I love the Roadkill toys. People seem to think it’s out of character considering my vegetarianism and animal rights activism. And the more they go on about it, the more I start to feel a little bit shocked and horrified myself. Why am I so fond of my gory rabbit? Is there something dreadfully wrong with me? But mostly I just feel a vague sense of amusement that meat eaters can be uncomfortable with a squished soft toy that, actually, is not really dead, yet they don’t mind paying a butcher (or their supermarket) to chop off a cow’s head. Strange, eh? But – everyone’s shock and horror aside – the Gollancz party was a great bash, and I was tremendously pleased that the midnight train was the last one running rather than the usual half past ten.

The panel I took part in at the Havant Literary Festival yesterday was also a success. Fortunately, my hangover from the Gollancz party the night before had worn off by then. At least, I think it had. No one suggested to my face that I still looked hung over anyway. The panel was very well attended, and I was particularly pleased to see the lovely Neil C. Ford in the front row, especially as he had the foresight to bring a Lex Trent ARC – something that never occurred to me (possibly because of the hangover thing).

I believe I spoke relatively coherently, although I may have blanched a little when the moderator suggested we read aloud from our books. The whole concept of an author doing readings from their own books completely baffles me. This is, essentially, a form of acting. I could no more speak convincingly in Lex’s voice (or any of my characters) than I could get up and sing a piece of Italian opera. I am no actor. If I were forced to read aloud from one of my books, it would therefore probably come out as something of a dull monotone. I lack the theatrical flair. Writing it and speaking it are, after all, very different things. I’m always amazed that so many authors seem happy to do readings at conventions and other appearances. This is certainly not something I would ever voluntarily do. Fortunately Mr Ford, perceiving my discomfort, offered to read a section on my behalf, which let me nicely off the hook. And, indeed, he read it much better than I would have done. Henceforth, I shall refer to him as Lancelot, and expect him to accompany me on all and any events I may attend – just in case.

A big thanks to everyone else who made it to Havant last night, and an even bigger thanks to those of you who bought one of my books. Think of me again in February when Lex Trent versus The Gods will be out in all its fantastic, stupendous, awesome, breathtaking, shiny book glory.

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