Last Thursday October 3rd, my debut novel ‘Frost Hollow Hall’ hit the shelves. The run up to it was like waiting for Christmas, where the present you most want is the stuff of dreams. Weeks seemed to stretch on forever. Yet in reality plenty was happening behind the scenes. The ARCs had gone out, the reviews started appearing on websites like Lovereading and Goodreads. Bloggers blogged about it. All was going pretty ok-if only time would speed up a bit!
Yet just before midnight on October 2nd, I suddenly wished time would slow down. LBP (life before publication) was running out. What would change? How different would things be?
Authors on twitter offered advice: ‘ you’ll never walk into a bookshop in the same way again’ said one. ‘ You’ll be overwhelmed and underwhelmed, both at once’ said another. At midnight I watched as the words on my Amazon page turned from ‘pre-order’ to ‘in stock.’ This was it. It was happening. And what did I do? I hugged my husband and went to bed.
The next morning, the excitement really kicked in. Early on, the twitter messages started. I read ever single one, grinning from ear to ear. My mum took me out to lunch, my friends sent me cards, my agent sent me flowers and my lovely editor telephoned. That evening Mr Carroll and I drank Taittinger Comtes De Champagne. Yes, I was still grinning. So many times I’d witnessed other authors celebrate their big day. Now it was happening to me. And it was just the BEST feeling!
The day after publication day I went back to my day job as a part-time teacher. Sort of. Yes, I had to teach lessons, but I also got to do some amazing author stuff. My lovely school, Axe Valley Community College in Devon, was almost as excited about Frost Hollow Hall as I was.
First up was an interview with the local newspaper. Early afternoon, we held an assembly for 140 Year 7 students. The Assistant Head interviewed me about being a writer. Then I did a reading and the students asked questions. Best one: would you like to be a full time writer? (diplomatic answer with Assistant Head sat next to me!) Afterwards, local indie bookshop Archway books sold books to students and staff. By now, I was completely buzzing. And the best bit was still to come.
Friday night was launch night. I’d been dithering about whether to have one at all. I hate organising parties, and I really hate being the centre of attention. ( I only invited 4 people to my wedding- see what I mean?). But I have to say, I’m so glad I did it. It was probably one of the best nights of my life.
We opted for another local indie, Brendon Books in Taunton, and invited just close friends and family. The upstairs room there is lovely- bare floorboards, eaves, shelves of old books- so we put candles everywhere and kept the lights low. The prosecco flowed, nibbles were… well… nibbled, and there was lots of laughing and fooling about, which is just how I wanted it to be. My editor Rebecca Lee came down from London. I was thrilled she could make it. So lovely that she could meet my family and closest friends. We did speeches, a ghostly reading, and more book signing, where I actually wore out a pen!
Afterwards, I was exhausted. My throat felt like sandpaper and all I wanted was a cup of tea and my bed. Fat chance of that. Back at home, I just couldn’t switch off. Eventually, I did fall asleep, only to wake up again at 4am. I was STILL buzzing. And in fact, I am even now. No wonder they call it a book birthday. Because that’s how it felt, like the loveliest, warmest, kindest celebration you could wish for. Now I want to do it all again.