Sadly my world travels are not carrying me to Germany. So for now I will have to content myself with the knowledge that at least Faina gets to visit. The Snow Child, otherwise known as Das Schneemädchen, appears in bookstores there today. I hope German readers enjoy my story.
Bonjour mes amis! We have arrived in Vincennes, France, on the outskirts of Paris. During the next few days, I’ll be participating in the Festival America, including several panels and workshops. But for now, I’ve been taking in the sights, sounds … and delicious food … of France.
I just had a lovely lunch with Deborah and Alexandra with my French publisher, Fleuve Noir. Fortunately they both speak English beautifully, so we were able to talk about, well, books!
Earlier today, my family and I visited nearby Vincennes Castle, where I took the postcard photo. What a fascinating history! It was built in the 1300s and has housed monarchs such as Charles V and prisoners such as the Marquis de Sade.
Last night, Grace and I ate our first escargot. I’m sure all that butter and garlic didn’t hurt, but we thought they were “très délicieux!”
Here we are under the ferocious gaze of a Trafalgar lion! Our first day in London, and we’ve already had a marvelous time — a lovely brunch with publishing friends including a photo shoot at Platform 9 3/4 (for fellow Potter fans out there), a double-decker bus ride to Trafalgar Square, shopping on Regent Street, and afternoon tea at the National Gallery.
Tomorrow promises to be equally exciting — breakfast with independent booksellers, an 11 a.m. book signing at Waterstones Worcester, and a 7 p.m. signing, with cocktails and live music, at Waterstones Kensington. Hope to see some of you along the way.
Greetings from the lush shores of New Zealand! I have just one complaint — my visit here is much too short. When I told the gentleman at customs that I would be here less than two days, he looked at me as if I were crazy.
And you would have to be crazy to leave these brilliantly blue skies, gentle ocean breezes, charming people, and delicious sauvignon blancs. But I only have 36 hours, so I’m making the best of it.
Yesterday I met the Michael King Book Group at a local cafe and we talked about bookshops and novels and book clubs. Then we walked across the street to the Takapuna Library where Helen Woodhouse graciously introduced me to readers. I shared some stories from my life as a writer in Alaska, and they recommended some New Zealand novels that I am anxious to read.
Later I met people from Hachette, my publisher here and in the UK, for dinner at a lovely restaurant. We ate and laughed and talked books and laughed some more. I realized these kiwis would fit in perfectly at our neighborhood parties in Alaska. My cheeks still hurt from all the laughter.
Today I am talking with New Zealand media, including National Radio, local newspapers, and Stuff website. This afternoon: I get to visit a bookstore. Then, before the day is done, I hop on a plane for London.
Hello from beautiful Australia! My family and I have had a few days of relaxing along the Sunshine Coast. Sam tried surfing for the first time, and I think found it less frightening than driving from the opposite side of the car, on the opposite side of the road, through roundabouts that go the opposite direction.
We’ve had some lovely moments — spotting a wild koala in a tree and collecting seashells along the beach. We faced giant spiders and hungry ibis birds, and we walked through heavily scented eucalyptus trees.
Along the way, we received some exciting news– The Snow Child in paperback has debuted at #10 on the UK bestseller list.
But in the midst of all this, we also had some sad news. We learned that a longtime friend in our hometown passed away from cancer. She was one of the most outgoing, kind, upbeat people I have known, and anyone who ever had the pleasure of meeting Wendy will surely miss her. She leaves behind a young family. I send out my deepest condolences to the many people who loved her.
Hello from the beautiful capital of Queensland! I just finished my first panel of the Brisbane Writers Festival — “We Need to Talk About America” with the articulate David Vann and John de Graaf. After great questions from chair Libby Burke and a lively discussion, we darted downstairs to meet readers and sign copies of our books. Up next for me at the festival: “A Little Bit of Magic” with Joanne Harris, Kate Forsyth and Katherine Lyall-Watson, and “Bookselling’s Bright Future” with Fiona Stager, Janet Kieseker, and Chris Flynn, who I already know from Melbourne is a fabulous discussion leader.
Somewhere along the way, I might sneak in a visit with some kangaroos and koalas, too.
Greetings from sunshiny, sparkling, awe-inspiring Sydney. Met wonderful booksellers, ate some delicious food, walked along a beautiful beach. The zoo, the aquarium, the ferry rides — all of it has been fabulous, especially because I’ve been able to share it with my family. Up next? Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast. More from there.
G’day mates! Just arrived for the Melbourne Writers Festival, where on 10 a.m. Friday I’ll be be at The Morning Read, Saturday at 1 p.m. a panel discussion on what it’s like to be a debut novelist, and on Sunday a lovely event called Sofitel Salon.
In other news around the world, my UK publisher is celebrating “Snow Day” with the release of the paperback edition. Thanks to all the UK book bloggers who have joined in the celebration.
I’ll try to drop you a postcard whenever I have the chance.
Dear international reader,
I’m preparing for a month-long, whirlwind book tour that will take me to Australia, New Zealand and Europe. I’m hoping I’ll see some of you along the way. Anyone in Paris, London, Auckland, or Brisbane?
Here’s my schedule so far:
Sept. 13 Auckland, New Zealand. 6-7:30 p.m. I’ll be at Takapuna Library for a book talk and signing.
Sept. 17 London:
- 11 a.m. I’ll be at Waterstones Worchester for a book signing.
- 7 p.m. Waterstones Kensington will host a signing that includes cocktails and live music from Miss Maud’s Folly.
Sept. 20-23 Paris, Festival America. I’m on several panels, including discussing “characters in search of a writer,” and writing from an extreme local. And some of my very favorite authors will be at this international festival.
I’ll post letters and photos whenever I have the chance. In the meantime, I’m trying to figure out how I can pack everything I need for this trip into a single carry-on.
P.S. Thank you for your comments on my last letter — I so enjoyed reading your stories about wishing for water, dowsing for water, and sometimes getting too much of it. As I write to you just now, Sam is wiring and plumbing, and professionals are installing the pump in our well. So close I can almost taste that first cold, refreshing glass of water …
Dear steadfast reader,
In my last letter, I left us in Glasgow, Scotland, with snow flurries out the window and a suitcase full of books.
Sam and I rose early Sunday morning and headed down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. We were met by the publicist Samantha and Thomas Quinn of The Big Issue and his wife. As we sipped on our coffee and tea, Thomas interviewed me and Sam about The Snow Child and our lives in Alaska. The Big Issue is a fascinating, quality publication with a special aim — to help the homeless.
After the breakfast interview, Samantha, Sam and I set out on the streets of Glasgow to visit Waterstones bookstores on Sauchiehall Street and Argyll Street so I could sign copies of my book.
Glasgow is a city of contrasts — ornate stone buildings beside modern squares of concrete, an icy wind through the streets and the warm welcome of the locals. For the first time on the trip, Sam and I had an hour to explore and visit shops. I found a locally woven cashmere scarf for myself, as well as some gifts for the neighbors who were taking care of things for us back home.
But our lunch would give us a true picture of this city. Gillian, who works for my UK publisher in Glasgow, invited Sam, Samantha and me to her flat for lunch. We were greeted by her two cats and the fragrance of homemade leek soup. Gillian’s partner, Graham, and several friends soon came through the door after a morning tennis match.
We spent the next hour enjoying warm soup, delicious cheeses, homemade scones, clotted cream, bramble jam, and easy conversation. We talked about Scotland and Alaska — they found our town on Google Maps and even got a street view of the bookstore where I work. I discovered from the 12- and 9-year-old girls that they must wear uniforms to school, and they made no attempt to hide their envy that my own daughters don’t, and can even wear “trainers” to school.
After lunch, we went for a stroll around the neighborhood. We hiked up a wooded hill, along a creek, and took in the views of Kelvingrove Park.
On the return trip, we stopped by Gillian and Graham’s favorite neighborhood pub for a “wee dram” of whiskey. Since they all taste the same to me — a bit like paint thinner — I opted for a glass of sparkling water. But Sam and everyone else enjoyed the warming effect of their drinks.
And then we had to say goodbye to these welcoming people, and to Scotland. But not before Sam could buy two bottles of fine Scotch whiskey to bring home to Alaska.
We caught our flight back to London with just enough time for me and Sam to dash to a nearby Thai restaurant for dinner. We had to be back to our hotel room by 9 p.m. for a telephone interview that proved well worth the rush.
Gavin Pugh and Simon Savidge co-host a delightful podcast about books called The Readers. They interviewed me in tandem, asking insightful questions about my book, my relationship to fairy tales, and my characters. It was one of the most enjoyable interviews of my journey.
That night, Sam and I spent our last sleep in the UK. But the adventure wasn’t over just yet.
We rose early the next morning, packed our suitcases full of whiskey and books (this had been a good trip for both of us!) Then, arms loaded with luggage, we caught a taxi to the BBC Western House where we met once more with Samantha. At 10 a.m., I enjoyed a last, fond memory of Scotland, as I was interviewed by the wonderful BBC Scotland The Book Cafe.
Then we darted around the corner to the studio for BBC’s Radio 4 Woman’s Hour.
It was my last interview of my whirlwind UK adventure. And perhaps my most prestigious. Women such as Diane Keaton, Kirsten Dunst, and Joan Collins have been on the show. And I would later learn that the other guest being interviewed for today’s show beside me was the folk singer Joan Baez.
But somehow I didn’t feel nervous — Jane Garvey is clearly a skilled interviewer. She had read my book, and has some great questions about the story and my life in Alaska.
My last interview wrapped up, we met outside the BBC building with Samantha. I was sad to say goodbye to her. We hugged, and I told her she should come with me back to Alaska. We could hang out, and I would never be late for an appointment.
The taxi to the airport was waiting, however, so we waved to Samantha out the window and said goodbye to the UK.
After Sam and I found our seats on the British Airways flight, I cracked open The Great Escape by UK novelist Fiona Gibson. Within the first page, I was chuckling out loud. This would certainly make the long trip home go faster.