Posts Tagged ‘Author Appearance’

A Jaunt to Jindabyne

Dear You,

I have returned from the Snowy Mountains, where I was attending a literary festival. This was a festival of first-evers. It was the first-ever Snowy Mountains Readers & Writers’ Festival ( http://www.snowymountainswritersfestival.org/ ), but it was also my first-ever literary festival. I was thrilled to be a guest, but also a trifle nervous. I really had little to no idea what to expect. But, only mildly daunted, I packed my little car, and drove on up, over the hills and through the valleys, ascending towards Jindabyne.

Jindabyne is a charming mountain town, and a popular holiday destination. It’s the gateway to the snowfields, and for those unfamiliar with the Australian ski industry (or those unaware that there is an Australian ski industry), I can assure you that it’s big. Thousands and thousands of people ascend to the mountains when it’s snowy. Actually, they also ascend to the mountains when it’s not snowy, as I can attest, because they were all driving in front of me, and most of them were taking their sweet time.

It’s a very nice drive, despite the sweet-time-taking drivers, and if I had any sense, I would have taken photos along the way. Gorgeous landscapes, with the yellow grass, dark mountains and gigantic sky that always makes me feel incredibly patriotic.

Now, I hadn’t been to Jindabyne in forever. Not since I was a little kid, and I had only the vaguest of memories of the place. But when I arrived, I was completely. The town slopes down to Lake Jindabyne. In point of fact, the original town was under Lake Jindabyne. By which I mean that there was a valley, and a town of Jindabyne in it, and then they flooded it, and moved the town.

Not necessarily in that order.

Anyway, I drove through the town, acquainting myself with the lay of the land (that’s how I know it sloped down to the lake), and eventually found my way to Snowprint Bookshop ( http://www.snowprint.com.au/ ), which was one of the sponsors of the Festival. In addition, the bookshop is owned by Shaaron Ellis, who was one of the creators of the Festival, and with whom I had enjoyed several conversations on the phone – the sort of conversations where you begin by talking about business and arrangements for an upcoming literary festival, and then start chatting, and then abruptly you realise that your entire lunch hour has evaporated. So, it was great to finally meet her in person.

The next day was the opening day of the festival, with a very nice Welcome to Country (a custom in which representatives of the local Aboriginal people open an event with a speech and/or presentation, in their role as traditional custodians of the land), and a recitation of The Man from Snowy River (which is a classic Australian poem by Banjo Paterson – some (including me) say that it is the classic Australian poem. It is printed in microtext on the Australian $10 note as a security feature. It’s also been made into a rather good movie, with some outstanding riding scenes, and, bewilderingly, Kirk Douglas. You should read the poem.)

And then it was my first appearance! I was on a panel of Canberra Writers, with Marion Halligan, Peter Rees, and Karen Viggers – all of whom I read, but none of whom I had actually met before. And it was chaired by George Negus, who is a well-known journalist. And really, I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to having people look at you while you try to sound interesting about writing. The audience was terrific, and the other panelists were great, and I think we brought a good spread of perspectives to it.

Also, as evidence of the interconnectedness of all things Canberra, even though I had never met any of these people before, it turned out that Marion Halligan was very good friends with a lady who used to live around the corner from me, and one of my friends at work has Karen Viggers as her veterinarian. I’m sure that if Peter Rees and I had gotten the chance to talk some more, we would probably have turned out to be long-lost brothers or something.

That evening there was a literary dinner, and I was tremendously excited because speaking at it were Rosamund Burton (who wrote Castles, Follies and Four Leaf Clovers, which is a great travel story in Ireland) and Sandy Mackinnon. The O’Malley copy of Mackinnon’s book The Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow has pretty much fallen apart from repeated re-readings. So, I took along a recently-acquired fresh copy, and awkwardly asked if he would inscribe it for my Mom. (I wasn’t really certain of the etiquette when it comes to asking other writers for autographs, especially when they’re having dinner at the other end of the table.) Mr Mackinnon very kindly obliged, and he and Rosamund Burton then proceeded to give the dining audience some terrific stories from their adventures.

And then it was Sunday, a key feature of which was a presentation by Daniel O’Malley entitled ‘Dr Who and Harry Potter Stand Aside.’ Now, I would like to make clear to you, O Reader of This Blog, just as I did to the audience that day, that I absolutely did NOT come up with the title. My mum called me from Canberra, asking me if I had written that title, and if I was insane. I thought it was going to be my ‘more popular than Jesus’ moment, with an outraged audience rising up and tearing me to tiny pieces, but they accepted the grandiose title as the product of someone else, and thus I commenced my first-ever solo author appearance in front of an audience who weren’t mainly friends and family.

I was only marginally petrified.

I told them a bit about who I am (had to explain the American accent, despite being born and bred in Canberra, Australia) and then I talked about the book (astoundingly), and how I’d come to write it, and the process by which it had gotten published, and I finished my speech, and then realised that I still had about half an hour to go. So, I asked for questions.

As an aside, if you ever go to an event where someone is speaking, come with a question. Or formulate a question while you’re there. It is greatest service you can ever render to someone. You will build up great merit.

And rest assured, there was a substantial amount of merit laid up in Jindabyne that day, because the good attendees absolutely plied me with questions. And they were such good questions too, ones that allowed me to ramble on for another half an hour. All of those attendees have comfortable seats reserved for them in heaven. Or they’ll be reborn as wealthy aristocrats who are straight of limb and keen of eye, depending on their religious beliefs, and personal preferences.

After me was Sulari Gentill ( http://www.sularigentill.com/ ), who writes an absolute torrent of works, but the ones that interested me most were her Rowland Sinclair mysteries, which are set in 1930’s Australia. Her presentation was terrific (her adorable sons asked her questions, including the plaintive “When will you stop writing?”), and I was so taken by her talk that I ducked out immediately to get the first book in the series, so that I could get her to sign it. I cannot wait to dive into it.

And then it was suddenly today, and I was packing up and driving home (with all the other motorists once again taking their sweet time), and now I’m back, getting everything in order. I mowed the lawn, I updated twitter, and I found a very nice review by Coffee and a Book Chick, which you can read (and agree with) at http://www.coffeeandabookchick.com/2012/04/rook-by-daniel-omalley.html

In fact, there have been a few reviews released upon the world since the last time I updated this blog, and I shall provide links to them for your convenience, and viewing pleasure:

The lads from 5 x 2 provide two reviews of The Rook, which you can view and compare at :

-       http://5x2blog.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/513/ and

-       http://5x2blog.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/reading-week-2-the-rook-by-daniel-omalley/

Susan Tunis gives a review at her blog In one eye, out the other

(http://inoneeyeouttheother.blogspot.com.au/2012/03/i-can-admit-when-im-wrong.html

And there’s a review of The Rook in French at Unwalkershttp://www.unwalkers.com/the-rook-de-daniel-omalley-rookie-of-the-year/) .

Now, some of you may recall that, in a previous blog posting, I described the mysterious teddy bears, which had been nailed to a succession of trees along the road from Canberra to the coast. Various theories as to the origins and reasons for these bears abound, but one of my readers (who shall remain nameless in case she didn’t want her name out in the internet) has informed me that the bears serve to mark the route to a nudist colony. I’m sure there’s a play on bare/bear, but given the deteriorating condition of the bears, it’s a disquieting idea, if it’s true. But thanks for the scoop.

Finally, my colleagues at work have not permitted me to forget the fact that, on the 18th of March, The Sunday Territorian (a newspaper based in Darwin) had an article on The Rook, entitled “Dan’s Fighting the Forces of Evil.” Duplicates of this article now adorn my deskspace. I’m secretly rather thrilled, and would kill for a copy of the actual newspaper.

Books Purchased at the Festival

1. The World from Islam by George Negus

2. The Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow by A.J. Mackinnon

3. A Few Right Thinking Men by Sulari Gentill

4. The Beijing Conspiracy by Adrian d’Hage

Launching, and being a Guerrilla Marketeer

It’s a lazy summer Sunday, perfect for lounging around dreamily. And I have been lounging around, but I don’t get to do it dreamily because I am working away feverishly on a multitude of projects. And it’s been an extremely busy week, with lots of Rook-related occurrences occurring.

To begin with, on Wednesday the wonderful owners and staff of the Dymocks bookstore (http://www.dymocks.com.au/) in Civic (which is the city centre area of Canberra) were kind enough to host the Australian launch of The Rook.

Now, I had been quite anticipatory about this, because ever since I shyly announced to the world that I had a book which was going to be published, the immediate response of many of my friends and acquaintances was to say brightly, “Invite me to the launch!’ And I didn’t know anything about launches. I’d never attended one. I suspect that they hadn’t either, but they seemed to have quite set ideas about what such things involved. And I didn’t quite dare ask, for fear of looking ignorant.

Thankfully, the Dymocks staff are well acquainted with book launches, and they were able to take me firmly in hand, and make sure that the event involved everything it needed to. They supplied the food, and the drink, and the multitudinous copies of The Rook. All I had to do was show up, say a few things, and sign whatever was thrust in front of me.

I was petrified.

The nerves started building up a couple of hours before the launch. It was becoming increasingly clear that this was going to be an Occasion. My parents would be there. Various friends were going to be there. Members of the public were going to be there. My glorious editor from HarperCollins Australia was going to be flying up from Sydney to attend. And I had to speak.

Now, I’m not a shy person, as anyone who has met me will attest. But this was going to be different. This was a life event, like a christening, or a wedding, or a birth (although I don’t know how many speeches get made at those.) And I was fully prepared to believe that some malignant muse would possess me, and I’d spew forth a selection of epithets and obscenities before collapsing in a seizure onto the cheese platter. Such a development couldn’t possibly good for sales.

But, in the minutes beforehand, I found myself feeling a lot better. People I knew kept flowing in, and I got to chat with them, and embrace them, and blush a little when they pointed out the book that had been shelved in various different locations around the store. My glorious editor, Anna Valdinger, stood up, and with her delicious English accent made a really nice speech, and then I got up, and saw all these faces, and it was all people I knew, and loved. And a couple of complete strangers who’d wandered in, but they were smiling at me as well. And I gave my little speech of thanks, and answered a few questions, and torches and pitchforks weren’t produced.

And then I commenced the signing. Lots of signing. The whole thing is a blur of little tailored messages for people, and the alarming evolution of my signature (over the course of the evening I developed an entirely new way of writing the letter ‘M’ that I am very pleased with.) Now, since I am left-handed, of course my hand was smeared liberally with ink, and I agonized a little that various people’s precious keepsakes would be smeared, but I consoled myself with the fact that they would at least be authentically smeared by the author, and that would probably add some value to it.

Afterwards I went out for dinner with Anna the Glorious Editor, and Jodi who is my earthly representative from HarperCollins Australia, and it was great. I fell into bed that evening, replete with very good Indian food, and satisfaction.

And then the next evening I got to do it all again at Impact Comics (www.impactcomics.com.au/web) , which is the comic-book shop that I patronize, and to which I have been coming since I was twelve and it was Impact Records and was contained in a different location. So, when I wandered in, and saw that they were handing out laminated Checquy security passes (which can later be used a magnets!) I almost had a nervous breakdown of joy. I was interviewed by Ryan K Lindsay, Renaissance Man (http://www.stinkbrown.org/), and then did yet more signing. Great evening.

Meanwhile, other cool things have been happening. Most recently, if you skitter on over to the fine website of Suvudu (located in the classy neighbourhood of http://sf-fantasy.suvudu.com/2012/01/new-release-interview-the-rook-by-daniel-omalley.html ), you will find an interview with me, in which I talk about various things, including the gestation of a sequel to The Rook.

Also, there have been some very nice reviews released upon the world. Parade Magazine (which, for the non-Americans among you, is a Sunday magazine that is distributed in more than 500 newspapers, and is the most widely read magazine in the USA) put forward The Rook as one of its Parade Picks!

Laura de Leon’s blog I’m Booking It gave her top ten reasons for liking The Rook at http://blog.imbookingit.com/2012/01/24/the-rook/ .

At http://thebooksmugglers.com/2012/01/book-review-the-rook-by-daniel-omalley.html , The Book Smuggler says (among other things) that ‘if you’re looking for the antidote to the same old, lackluster, run-of-the-mill UF, look no further. The Rook is awesome. I can only hope for more Myfanwy in the future.’

And also my hometown newspaper, the Canberra Times, featured a review of The Rook by Colin Steele, a man of letters who, for decades now, has figured prominently in my personal pantheon of heroes. And he finished his review by saying “The Rook is certainly cool.’

And life was good.

But the adventures don’t stop there. Yesterday, I engaged in a bit of guerrilla marketing, thought up by the aforementioned Glorious Editor. For those of you who haven’t read The Rook, it’s characterized by a series of letters that explain the world of the book. Anna’s idea was to print out a copy of the first letter from the book, on official-looking letterhead, and then leave them in places where people would find them. They’re already opened, and addressed ‘To You’, and it was thought that finding such a letter might pique people’s interest, and lead them to the book.

Anna had given me a couple of them while she was down in Canberra to make her speech at the launch, and I cautiously took a couple along to CanCon, which is the local annual gaming convention. I thought I’d place the envelopes cunningly, with all the suave insouciance of a Checquy agent. I hoped that someone would pick it up and look around, bewildered. Maybe they’d catch a fleeting glimpse of me in a crowd, my eyebrow raised, and that, when they chased me down, like that, I’d be gone.

Of course, it turned out less immediately cool than that.

To begin with, the place was crawling with people. And there were remarkably few places that one could just leave an envelope. I didn’t at all like the idea of sandwiching it between some of the stacked boardgames at the stalls. These were other people’s places of business, after all, and I don’t want to interfere with their livelihoods.

Then there were many, many tables, but all of those were taken up by people playing board games, or else they were covered in those vast, compelling replica landscapes that people build for their miniature soldiers to do combat on. I’ve always found those things fascinating, but I walk even more carefully around them than I do around museum exhibits. My hands will not bring themselves out of their pockets if there is a reproduction battlefield nearby, for fear that I will knock over a fortification, or inadvertently smear a tiny Napolean, or impale myself on a spire. So that was out.

The laser tag arena didn’t strike me as the sort of place where people would stop what they were doing to pick up an envelope. And if they did, I thought it might get handed in to the guy running it.

In the end, I casually sat down on a handy bench, smiled casually at the young lady who was sitting at the other end with her child, and then casually pretended to read my book while casually sliding the envelope onto the bench, and then casually sauntering away.

I was totally braced for a helpful call of ‘excuse me! You’ve casually left your envelope behind!’ In which case, I was either going to return shamefacedly, or pretend innocence and confusion (“that envelope? Why, it’s not mine. What does it have inside?”), or else bolt away, which I like to think would have added a touch of mystery to the whole thing, but might also have resulted in security getting called in.

But, no helpful calls came, and the convention was not evacuated because of a mysterious open envelope. I wandered around for half an hour, buzzing a little from my awesome deployment of guerilla marketing techniques, and then I casually wandered by the bench, only to see that the envelope was still there, untouched. Rather deflated, my friends and I left, but I do hope that someone picked it up eventually, and that is wasn’t just a member of the cleaning staff who threw it automatically into the garbage.

The Return

I have returned! I am nestled back safely on my couch in Australia, with my dog panting on the floor, and the sun setting over the mountains. During my sojourn in Japan, I saw many glorious sights: temples, skyscrapers, centuries-old castles, decades-old recreations of castles, and lots of stone Buddhas wearing little knitted hats and scarves. I strolled through museums, and wandered through pachinko parlours. I have ridden upon the bullet train. I have peed upon the bullet train. Which is to say, I have peed whilst riding upon the bullet train. It was great trip, but it’s good to be home.

And, of course, while I was away, on January 11, 2012 Anno Domini, The Rook was unleashed upon the United States of America.

I think that, when your first novel comes out, it’s probably a good thing to be in a country where the book is not going to be available, and you don’t have a phone that will let you obsessively check your e-mail every five minutes. Why, I would say that whole hours went by when I didn’t try to find some opportunity to check the internet. And, as luck would have it, there are astoundingly few temples and castles which provide you with facilities for checking the internet.

But despite my lack of constant observation, lots of stuff kept happening. In fact, it’s been an extremely busy three weeks.

Firstly, a few items were released upon the world wide web, to accompany the release of The Rook. And I shall provide you with links to see them. Behold:

On John Scalzi’s website, at http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/01/12/the-big-idea-daniel-omalley/ ,  there’s an interview with me regarding the ‘big idea’ that spawned The Rook.

At the website Largehearted Boy, located on the internet at http://www.largeheartedboy.com/blog/archive/2012/01/book_notes_dani_6.html , you can read my playlist for The Rook, and coming up with that was a unique experience.

And there have been some nice reviews, which is great.

CNN identified The Rook as one of its Hot Reads for Summer, putting it next to two of my absolute heroes, William Gibson and Bernard Cornwell. Upon seeing this (at http://edition.cnn.com/2012/01/13/living/hot-reads-january/index.html ), my brain exploded with a sharp detonation, prompting complaints from the cleaning staff of the hotel.

MTVGeek described the book as ‘Downton Abbey with superpowers’ which is a phrase that I am going to insist be inscribed on my tombstone. (http://geek-news.mtv.com/2012/01/10/the-rook-is-downton-abbey-with-superpowers-book-review/)

Monsters and Critics said some good things at http://www.monstersandcritics.com/books/science_fiction_fantasy/reviews/article_1685891.php/Book-Review-The-Rook

And the IE Mommy at http://www.theiemommy.com/2012/01/08/the-rook-a-novel-by-daniel-omalley/ made me blush with satisfaction.

There have been some other very nice reviews, but I shall have to bring them to the next blog, or this will just be a list of reviews, and I want to tell you about exciting stuff that has been happening in Australia.

To begin with, there were extracts from The Rook published in The Herald-Sun and The Adelaide Advertiser, both prominent newspapers for those of you who don’t live in Australia. And, on iTunes Australia, The Rook was the book of the week!

And stuff keeps happening! Tomorrow, my excellent local bookstore, Dymocks in Civic, is hosting a book-launching event (http://www.dymocks.com.au/LiteraryEvents/Default.aspx?s=2) . This is my very first public appearance as an author! I am only mildly petrified, but it will help me work out all my panic-impulses, which is very good because the day after tomorrow, Impact Comics, the store I have haunted since my childhood, is hosting a signing event (http://impactcomics.com.au/web/ , please RSVP if attending.)

I thwarted the Fates.

This week, I made my very first ‘appearance as an author’! So, naturally, the Fates conspired to make the entire thing as difficult as was humanly possible.

Those Fates are Bitches.

The event was the VIP members evening at the Dymocks bookstore in Tuggeranong. (Dymocks, for my non-Australian readers, is an Australian bookchain (http://www.dymocks.com.au/) and I have a long history of spending vast amounts of time and money in their establishments. Tuggeranong, for my non-Canberran readers, is a quarter of Canberra – one of the valleys that the city flows through.) This was an evening they were holding for members of their Booklover loyalty program (of which I am, ahem, a Gold Member.) The local rep for HarperCollins Australia had asked, ages ago, if I would like to attend, and I was extremely enthusiastic.

Then things started happening, just to spite me.

To begin with, as you may recall from my previous blog entry, I was struck down by a disease. It was never professionally diagnosed, but given the constantly running nose, the sore throat, and the cough, I feel safe in asserting that it was, um, bubonic plague. So, come the day before the event, I was still in the throes of this blight, and I had to advise that I wouldn’t be able to attend. I was convinced that my appearance would not only discourage people from buying my book, but it would also discourage people from buying any books at all.

However, the next day dawned, and I felt, not exactly 100%, but certainly less pestilential. So, I called Jodi (the rep) and asked if they might still have me. And she allowed as how they might. I was still a shambling mound of vile, but I was determined that I would make it.

Whereupon, the Fates (those cunning wenches) idly lobbed another wrench my way.

For you see, Thursday was Thanksgiving. And while the O’Malleys may reside in Australia, they adhere firmly to the tradition of Turkey Day. I absolutely had to be home by 6:30, when the guests would be arriving. Which would only give me a limited time to be at the event (it began at 5:30). Still even a flying visit would be awesome. I made arrangements with a longsuffering friend to pick me up from work (if I was well enough to attend an author event then, according to the Laws of O’Malley, I was well enough to go to work, and infect my colleagues). He would shuttle me down to Tuggeranong, where I would press the flesh, foist some sample chapters on hapless Booklovers, shill The Rook, possibly pick up some discounted books, and then zip home in time to gorge on a hapless turkey.

The Fates looked upon my plans, and laughed hollowly.

To begin with, my friend did not materialize with his car. It transpired that someone had seen him park in a handicapped parking place (which he is totally allowed to do – he’s got a handicap, and the related card that lets him park where he wants). They had felt that he did not look sufficiently handicapped, and decided to register their disapproval by parking directly behind him, so as to prevent him from leaving. It took a fair amount of time for this avenging angel to appear, and then he felt the need to lecture my friend on his parking/inadequately obvious handicap before he would move the car. Meanwhile, I was bouncing up and down in a distant parking lot, watching the moments flow away.

Finally, finally my friend appeared, and we sped on down to Tuggeranong. Or at least, we would have done, had the Fates not had a word with the operators of every traffic light between my work and the Dymocks Tuggernanong. And then, just to spite me even more, they arranged for traffic to back up. I was tearing my hair and rending my garments by the time we got to the bookstore and elbowed aside the shoppers who were dithering about outside.

Well, it was great. My rep embraced me (probably exposed herself to the flu), and showed me around, and introduced me to the bookstore proprietress. There were a couple of other local authors there, including the supremely nice Tracey O’Hara, whom I’ve met before. So, we howdied and shook, and then I wandered about, shoving sample chapters at people, and importuning them to buy my book when it comes out next year. Which led to one of the more interesting interactions I’ve had in my professional career, which I shall recreate for you here.

(Dan approaches a young guy who is browsing in the Fantasy/Sci-Fi section)

Dan: Hi, can I interest you in a sample chapter from a book that’s coming out next year?

Guy: No thanks. The author is a friend of the family, so I’ve already read the first chapter.

(Dan is somewhat nonplussed, since he has no idea who this guy is.)

Dan, feebly: Oh! Right.

Guy: Yeah.

(Dan is rapidly realizing that, not only does he not know who this guy is, but this guy has no idea who he is.)

Dan: Well, that’s cool.

(Rep approaches.)

Rep: Hey Dan, things are going okay? People interested in your book?

Dan: Some are.

Guy: Oh, you’re Danny!

Dan: Yeah. (Brief pause. Then, revelation strikes.) Are you one of my mom’s students?

Guy: Yep.

Dan: Ah. Cool.

I have to confess, those few moments, after he claimed the author was a friend of the family, were some of the longest of my life. But, I got home in time for Thanksgiving!

And there was much gorging.

And thankfulness.