Sunday, April 17, 2016

Experiencing The London Book Fair

What a week that was!

I've just come back from a few days in London, during which I spent an afternoon and two mornings at The London Book Fair where I was helping out at the Sunpenny Publishing stand - number 5C138 as we all came to know it. For those of you who don't know, Jo Holloway, Sunpenny's managing editor and director, published two of my books, but this was the first time I'd met her, so it was a special occasion for me on that score.

Actually, I don't think I really helped anything very much other than to dispense coffee and leaflets, but it was so good to be there as there were many of the other Sunpenny authors there too. For me, the best part was meeting these lovely people with whom I've only ever connected via Facebook, Twitter and email and I can't tell you what a difference it made to us to talk, chat, laugh and even hug each other for real.

Firstly, I have to mention the Hat, which became a symbol of our stand. This hat was a glorious, red, sort of pillar box crossed with a cloche and was borne aloft by Michelle Jayne Heatley, our social media wizz-kid, who is as sweet as she is clever and who struck upon this absolutely genius move of being the walking mascot for our stand. Michelle's lovely book, Fish Soup, is a literary novel of unusual lyrical beauty.
The Red Hat
Apart from this, it was just great to meet the others, one of whom had come all the way from Seattle to attend. This was Sonja Anderson, whose delightful children's book, Sophie's Quest, is doing well in the States and elsewhere. Sonja is enthusiastic and passionate about encouraging children to read and she seems to have immense energy. I realise now that I never got a photo of her as she was so busy attending talks and really making the most of the occasion!

Then there was Julie McGowan from Wales, whose novels, Don't Pass me By and The Mountains Between, and short stories, Close to You, are great favourites of mine. She is just terrific and I am full of admiration for her energy and talent. She includes nurse, pianist, actress, production company owner and writer among her gifts, talents and skills, not to mention a lovely, bubbly personality, sparkling wit and a great sense humour. I honestly don't know how she fits everything in and still manages to be so organised and fun with it too!

Julie McGowan with Michelle
Another author who I've had really good contact with on the internet was Tonia Parronchi who came over from Italy. Her sailing memoir, Whisper on the Mediterranean, is full of the flavours of her Italian home. Sadly, I only saw her for a few hours, but I know for sure we will meet again. We have so much in common and so much to talk about; a real darling as I knew for sure she would be.



Tonia Parronchi
Closer to home was Christine Moore, a truly lovely, gentle lady who I spent most of the time with on the Wednesday and who I also think I will have more contact with now. Christine's book, Going Astray, is one I've read and admired. It deals with what can happen when a church becomes more of a cult organisation than a place of faith. It's riveting stuff and Christine, an academic scientist by education, writes about the subject very convincingly and so well. We spent much of the morning walking round hall dishing out leaflets and just talking about everything and anything.

Checking the intricacies of the coffee machine pads with
Christine Moore

Christine Moore again. Double checking!
And then there was Jo herself. It was a huge pleasure to meet her, and what a sweetheart she is (may I say that, Jo?). She is knowledgeable, skilled, talented and authoritative about publishing as well, so I was pretty impressed watching her and Julie work as a team in their negotiations with publishers, agents and rights buyers. 

Jo in discussion with an illustrator

For the rest, the London Book Fair is quite awe-inspiring. It is huge and is entirely devoted to the industry, so the stands represented publishers both large and small, national and international. It also had an extensive range of agents, printers and translators. There were talks and events going on all the time throughout the day at various locations throughout the vast Olympia hall and interspersed with these were coffee bars and snack stalls. There were also people doing massages on stools up the centre aisle, so when the negotiating got too much, relief was close by and in the healing hands of this group of green clad masseurs. 

And it was busy! My goodness! I was a little overawed at first, but got used to it eventually. Our stand was easy to find being straight up the centre aisle and then turn right at the Book Bus...but I'll say more about that another time. Suffice to say, with all the authors, with Michelle, Julie and Jo, it quickly became 'home', and on Thursday, I was genuinely sad to say goodbye.  

Koos and I outside Olympia
The fair was a great experience and I'm so glad I went. It was impressive to see the event, but it was even more special to meet my fellow authors and our leading light, Jo. If I ever have the opportunity to go again; if Jo decides it's worth a repeat performance and we are invited, then I'll be there. Thank you, Jo, and thank you Michelle and Julie. You were all fantastic!

27 comments:

  1. So glad you had such a wonderful time.

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    1. It was much more impressive and fun than I thought it would be, Jo. I'm still on a bit of a high about it all, to be honest!

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  2. It certainly was a blast Val. It was so great to get to meet the author of Watery Ways and The Skipper's Child, along with my other Sunpenny friends. Maybe we should call ourselves the 'Sunpennies'.

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    1. Ha, I love that you've made the hat your profile pic! It was just perfect! And yes, I like the idea of being the Sunpennies. Yes.

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  3. Sounds absolutely brilliant, Val.

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    1. It was definitely an experience, Cathy. You really feel as if you're part of something big...okay I felt like an ant, but in a humongously big ant hill - if there is such a word :)

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  4. What a wonderful blog, Val! I knew y'all would hit it off in real life as well as electronic venues. I'm thrilled y'all had a great time. Of course, it made me sad that I missed it...but until Alan McKean's time travel becomes real, I could only be in one place at a time. So thankful Sunpenny had a great booth & a successful event.

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    1. I hope Alan's working on that, Steph! Yes, it was great to meet everyone, but it would have been even greater if you'd been there.

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    1. Thanks, Mel! It was an experience I won't forget in a hurry :)

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  6. Sounds like it was a great experience Val - with the benefit of making new friends.! x

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    1. It was, Jane, and yes, meeting people for real makes such a difference!

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  7. Great post, Val. Sounds like you had a wonderful few days :-)

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    1. I did, Shelley, and the show was only half of it. I will need to do another post to write about meeting my watery world friends :)

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  8. Hi Val - sounds amazing ... such a fun time. It makes such a difference meeting up with everyone ... and then - yes if it happens again ... even better ... cheers Hilary

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    1. It does indeed, Hilary. I'm so glad we had a stand to cling to as it's so very busy you can get lost very easily.

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  9. This is great! My sister went too - I wonder if you saw each other and didn't know about it! She has blogged about it too, should be pinned to the top of her page at @Proofread Julia :)

    I told her to meet as many people we knew via Twitter as she could, and take pictures, but it's such a huge place!

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    1. It's quite overwhelming, TT! I think there were quite a number of people there I could have seen but didn't. It's just so huge and so busy. I wish I'd seen Julia though. Thanks for the heads up about her blog...have beetled over there now xx

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  10. So sorry we didn't get to meet up, Val. Maybe next time . You obviously had a ball! Red hat or not!

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    1. I was really sad about that, CarolStar, but the timing was just wrong, wasn't it? There will definitely be a next time and then it will happen! xx

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  11. Isn't it amazing to meet up with friends who you've got to know so well over social media. This sounds like a wonderful event. Glad you enjoyed it.

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    1. It is, Ros. I half expected to find you there with a regiment of Richard III's army...now that would have been fun! I really hope you're feeling better now?

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  12. Sounds like you enjoyed yourself. Lovely photo of you and Koos.

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    1. I did, Anne! We did! Thank you :)

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  13. It was so lovely to meet you, and the other Sunpennies, as Michelle called us. I was sad to only be there for a day but so very glad that I got a chance to go and meet you and Koos. See you soon xxx

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    1. Me you too, Tonia! Hoping it will be soon as well! Xxxx

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  14. I loved meeting you and our fellow Sunpennies! What a great three days that was! It's hard to settle in back at home when I want to spend more time with you and the others. The time went way too fast, and I feel like I added a bunch of wonderful people to my extended family. I hope we get to meet again!

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