Saturday, 22 July 2017

Publication week - events, a blog tour, and No. 1 in Foyles Briz!

The doors to THE THOUSAND LIGHTS HOTEL are now officially open! Welcome to Elba, one and all. It's an emotional feeling, knowing that the book I was writing here...

... is now here!

I marked publication day with a launch at Foyles in Bristol, where I wheeled out my best Melamine and much Prosecco was drunk. Editor of Italia! Magazine, Amanda Robinson, kindly hosted the evening (who I also had to thank for a fab review and interview in this month's issue) and I'm grateful to everyone who came and helped send the book on its way in such warm and merry style.

With my husband Bobby, pulling what I *think* is his proud face...

The following week I headed to London for an event at Notting Hill's Book + Kitchen, an absolute gem of a bookshop that feels like you're walking into somebody's very cool, eclectic home (with excellently stocked shelves, mind). Big thanks to dear friend Kate Haines, who organised and hosted, and to all who came down, it was truly a memorable night. 

The last two weeks have also seen me head off on a Blog Tour (desk-bound travel; no vast buses or barroom riders), organised by my fab publicist at Headline, Millie Seaward. I'm really grateful for the support and enthusiasm of the bloggers who took part, hosting guest pieces, Q&As and reviews. Thank you to the blogs Have Books Will Read, Short Book and Scribes, and Brew and Books Review for the wonderful reviews. And thank you to Linda's Book Bag for the beautifully thoughtful interview questions (read here) and The Book Trailer (read here) as part of their ace Authors on Location series. The blog tour also gave me the opportunity to write a number of guest posts, which proved to be a gratifying way of reflecting on aspects of my process, and the writing journey I'd been on with this novel. The Thousand Lights Hotel feels dearer to me than ever after writing these pieces...

For I wrote about finding, and holding onto, the spirit of your story - and you can read it here. It felt cathartic to look back over the months of writing and rewriting (and, misty-eyed, remember the Chemical Brothers' earworm...). 

For Kath Eastman's Nut Press I wrote about why 'place' is so important to me as a writer - and in doing so realised for the first time that maybe it's all about mortality (isn't everything?) - you can read it here

For My Reading Corner I wrote about the role of food in The Thousand Lights Hotel, and how cooking and eating played such a part in its writing - you can read it here

For the blog From First Page to Last I wrote about some of my favourite hotels in fiction, and why I think hotels make for such intriguing settings - you can read it here

And for Trip Fiction I wrote about the very first journey I made to Elba, back in 2003, and how it was the start of an enduring love affair with the island - you can read it here (guest post follows the review). 

What else? In further reviews, the Express' S Magazine said it was 'a powerful story of grief, family, and self-discovery with a magical sense of place and beautiful storytelling'. And Italia! Magazine called it 'wonderfully evocative', and a 'riveting story'.  In the same issue of Italia! there's an interview with me about the novel and Elba - thank you again to Amanda Robinson for that.

Meanwhile my short story, Light Years, appeared in S Magazine on sunday 15th. You can read it online here. It's set on Elba during the annual Lovers' Festival at Innamorata...

I ran a Twitter competition to win an *exclusive* Thousand Lights Hotel apron (featuring the beauteous aperitivo graphic designed by Esther Curtis), Aperol sweets, and a signed copy of the novel... and was pleased that the prize went to Mary Marshall in Ireland.

Amidst it all I slipped home to my parents' place in Devon, and we had a lovely celebratory lunch, Hotel Mille Luci style. I made my favourite salad of nectarines, mozzarella, and air-cured ham, homemade pesto & roast chicken pasta, and dear old Torta della nonna (a dish that plays a key part in the book, and is the subject of an upcoming story in the People's Friend).

Finally, it was a joy to pop into Foyles in Bristol's Cabot Circus and see that THE THOUSAND LIGHTS HOTEL was their top seller for the week! A moment in the sun, that I had to snap for posterity. I'm a big fan of the Local Author sticker the book's sporting too...

Such thanks to everyone who's made publication feel so special. I was very happy to have my agent Rowan, and editor Leah from Headline with me for the Book + Kitchen night, and Lucy and Liane from Furniss Lawton too; thank you so much. All my author friends who came out to celebrate or sent their well wishes (and who know better than anyone how simultaneously wonderful and weird this particular time feels). The bloggers and readers who've reviewed and shown great support. And my lovely friends, and family, who are always so immensely good at cheering. My little son gave me a 'Happy Book Day' card with this Miffy picture, chosen all by himself - what could be more perfect? Maybe I should write my first drafts in sunshine-yellow pencil from now on... it might just be good luck.