World Wide Book Tour, Part Three—Bath, Bristol, and Swindon

September 24th, 2008

I saw Jane Austen!

I know you don’t believe me but okay I did sort of see her since there were all these people dressed up like her in Bath as the Bath Children’s Book Festival was going on at the same time as the Jane Austen conference. The Janeites were busy going to the Assembly Rooms for balls and flitting around in their bonnets and looking for Mr. Darcy. I’m not joking. Here’s the proof:

(That’s a statue of Jane to the right)

Ironically there’s a mini-series going on here in the UK (where I’m on a book tour) right now called Lost in Austen about a modern girl who slips through a secret door in her bathroom into Pride and Prejudice where she immediately starts messing up the story line by falling in love with Mr. Darcy. You can catch episodes of it here.

I can’t WAIT until they show it America. Sadly I have no time to watch it at all, being on book tour and collapsing into a heap every time I enter into my hotel room.

Speaking of which, here’s what a UK hotel room looks like:

(parlor)


(loft bedroom)

Pretty nice, right? Except all those books are about finance. And there’s a pub right across the street. But it shuts down by about eleven. Oh well. It was quite exciting when Manchester United played. I thought there was a riot going on.

Oh, how is my BOOK TOUR going, you ask? Fine, thanks! I’ve been to Bath, which was super Jane Austen-y, as previously stated, and where I met many wonderful readers at the Bath Children’s Book Festival. I also got to meet Dakota Blue there, star of the Golden Compass movie, who is a poised and lovely young woman.

Pretty!

I also got to have dinner with Frank Cottrell Boyce, author of many film scripts and children’s books, including Millions (if you haven’t read the book, I’m sure you’ve seen the adorable film about the boys who find the bags of money and have to spend it before their country converts to the euro), as well as his wife. He’s exactly He Who Shall Not Be Named In This Blog’s age, and they have SEVEN kids. Brave man!

So sweet! His new book COSMIC is really cute and funny.

I wish I had more personal photos to show you but, well, the truth is my camera batteries ran out and I only have one UK adapter and I couldn’t get it off my computer cord for the longest time because it was stuck (traveling is really hard) and by the time I did I’d left Bath. I know that’s a feeble excuse but…it’s the truth!

Then I was off to Bristol to visit a girls’ academy where they had stained glass windows just like at Hogwarts and I had lunch in the teachers’ lounge between events which made me feel quite special.

Anyway, now I’m on my way to Swindon to do some more Cracking and Stacking, and I just want to say the name of the girl from Smithers is Alia R., and I’m so sorry I forgot it! Susan Juby has been alerted.

Speaking of Susan Juby, she has a new book out, or will have at the end of this month, and I’ve read it and it’s insanely funny, possibly her best book yet. Which is weird because it’s told from the point of view of a boy.

I asked Susan how she did that and she said, “Brothers.” She has four or something, and I know they’re adorable because the boy in her book is so adorable, and also because once she sent me a beautifully carved wooden box that her brothers made for me. I still keep all my jewelry in it when it’s not in plastic bags because I’m traveling.

Anyway, the book is called GETTING THE GIRL and if you like books about schools, gossip, intrigue, romance, and cooking, which I do, this is the book for you. I LOVED it. It’s out September 30 and is getting starred reviews everywhere.

Speaking of good books, Justine Larbalestier also has a new one out that looks funny. I’ve only read the sample chapter on her site, but it made me laugh—it’s called HOW TO DITCH YOUR FAIRY. The heroine in Justine’s book hates her fairy, who helps her find parking spaces. What good is that to a girl who can’t even drive? So Justine’s heroine sets out to get rid of her fairy.

It’s out NOW. I wish I had a copy but of course even if I did I would have no time to read it since the only free time I have I use to update this blog. But I’m going to read it when I get home.

Since the drive to Swindon (yes! From the UK The Office! Will I see Tim and Dawn??? Who knows?) from London is taking so long, I’ll also just let you know that in addition to everything else I just listed, I shot a bunch of videos that will be put up eventually on my UK site; went to a very fancy dinner at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant with a lot of lovely people who all said they wished they had a candidate as intelligent and inspirational as Barack Obama running for election in their country; and had a day of press and radio interviews in which I sat in a fancy hotel room much like Julia Roberts in the movie “Notting Hill,” only Hugh Grant from the Fox and Hound never showed up.

I did, however, get to meet a lot of fabulous people I’ve always been curious to see, such as Keris from Trashionista and Luisa from Chicklish, so that was quite fun! It’s always nice to have a face to put with a name, and now I do. If my camera had been working I’d have gotten a picture, but oh well.

I will say though that at this point I’m completely sick of hearing the sound of my own voice. I hate it, actually. I wish I had someone else’s voice. Nikki Howard’s would do nicely.

Meanwhile, since I’ve been over here I’ve noticed that some people have been harshing on The Hills Lauren Conrad and her YA book deal. Some people seem to think it’s unfair that someone like Lauren like has gotten a book deal when there are other, possibly better writers out there who can’t get book deals at all.

I don’t think these people are seeing the big picture. Lauren’s book will make a lot of money, as celebrity books always do, and with that money, her publisher will be able to buy many books by unknown writers that they wouldn’t necessarily have been as inclined to buy otherwise.

(I specifically asked my publishers about this, and they assured me this is true. This is one of the reasons publishers buy celebrity books—to make a lot of money so they can then buy books they know probably won’t make any money at all. Editors, remember, love quality fiction and being able to launch a new talent they believe in but know perhaps won’t rake in the bucks. Please note I am not saying Lauren’s book won’t be quality fiction, because whoever writes it might do a really good job. We just don’t know yet.)

The truth is, basically all so-called “trashy fiction,” which generates a lot sales, enables publishers to buy so-called “literary fiction,” which has much smaller print runs, and makes much less money.

So every Jordan out there enables a dozen new unknown so called “literary” authors to be published.

Oh wait–who is Jordan, you ask? Well, I have no idea, but she’s a big celebrity over here in England. And now she “writes” a ton of books!

I am totally using this pose and outfit in my next author photo.

One of Jordan’s books was a children’s book called “Katie Price’s My Pony Care Book.” Naturally, Jordan got nominated for a very prestigious book award for this book. Sadly for the nation and perhaps the world, though, Jordan didn’t win.

But that doesn’t mean I am not cheering for her for next time—and for Lauren too! I say, YOU GO GIRLS!!! Because of the Jordans (and Laurens) of the publishing world, we can have more books in general, because more book sales = more books of every kind.

And how is that ever a bad thing?

(And frankly, I love Lauren, and can’t WAIT to read her books. And I especially can’t wait to see Spencer’s lips moving as he tries to read Lauren’s book. Wait, did I just say that? Sorry, I’m still a bit jet lagged.)

Well, I’ve got Waterstone’s Milton Keynes tomorrow, then I’m off to Sweden’s Gothenburg Book Festival this weekend. As you know, if it’s Saturday, it must be Sweden.

Hope to see you there!

More later.

Much love,

Meg