The last couple of weeks have been an amazing, exciting, terrifying blur.
I nervously presented my book-baby to the world and so far the reaction has been really positive.
I even had one lovely reviewer describe it as a “Monty Python sketch come to life” (see lovely review here) which is more than I could ever ask for!
Of course being me, I wasn’t going to do anything by halves (or the easy way) – so instead of one terrifying book launch, I decided to have three.
The first launch was at Wellington’s Unity Books – which is an amazing independent book store and my local. Having a launch there was the pinnacle of book-geekdom as far as I was concerned so I was absolutely rapt when they agreed to do it.
The elation turned to terror when I suddenly realised that I had signed myself up for getting up in front of a group of people and talking about sailing, the book and mental health.
They billed the thing as an ‘event’ which made me even more nervous. It sounded like people were expecting a song and dance routine!
It’s rather ironic, given that my day job involves advising people on how to present themselves to the public and deal with the media, that I am terrified of public speaking (and don’t even get me started on media interviews) myself.
I’m the person behind the notepad, I do writing, not talking.
Despite my misgivings, launch number 1 went really well. Aided largely by the fact that I was standing behind a desk so people couldn’t see how much my knees were shaking
We had a great crowd of people (they even had to get more chairs!) including my lovely supportive workmates (who totally weren’t frog-marched over from our office across the road) family members who I hadn’t seen for years, friends and even a few random strangers. The guys at the book store told me afterwards that getting randoms to a first book launch is quite a good sign!
The real star of the show however was my dress. A fabulous cat in the hat number designed by Catherine at Caff10. She’s a Hamilton-based clothing designer who does really funky, really reasonable stuff. Check it out for yourself .
I read a chapter called I Want My Cat! and got to sign lots of books for people, which was brilliant. Signing a copy of a book you wrote is the most amazing feeling which I am certain will never get old.
The folks at Unity were brilliant. They made me feel really welcome, helped calm my nerves and even did a really cool write-up afterwards which you can read here:
The second book launch was a necessity. A boatie book had to have a celebration at a boatie place so I did a signing and talk at the Evans Bay Yacht Club.
When I first told people I was having a launch at a yacht club they thought it would be really snobby, all boat shoes and suits.
Evan’s Bay isn’t like that though. As well as a base for learning to sail it is a working boat yard, full of some of the most amazing, down to earth people I have ever met.
The whole thing was a much more relaxed affair (the two beers and a wine I had before doing the talk may have gone some way to settle my nerves too). I read different chapter called Floating Trailer Trash about how yachties looked out for each other and I think that went down pretty well. I also got to sport another lovely Caff10 dress – this time covered in cat faces with love heart eyes (yes there is a theme here…)
As the yachties asked questions, heckled Paddy and gossiped with my parents I felt more and more at home. Several came up to me afterwards to share boating stories and a couple even quietly pulled me aside to say they lived with anxiety too and thanked me for speaking out.
I left with a huge smile on my face thinking “these are my people.”
Book launch number three had been in the making since before I’d even finished the book. I was on a regular pilgrimage down to Oamaru (where I lived and worked for a few years at the Oamaru Mail) when I came across a store called Adventure Books. It’s a gorgeous shop that specialises in adventure and travel books and it has its very own indoor boat. I immediately decided I had to have a launch there.
A few Oamaru connections making a few inquiries later and it was all on. I even did an interview with the Oamaru Mail which felt very surreal I can tell you!
The plan was I would do a reading and a signing and take part in a ‘slide night’. It was the first time I had done my book spiel with pictures and I was a little nervous about how it would go, but I needn’t have worried. The shop was awesome, the crowd was awesome and having photos to talk to meant I could relax and ad-lib a bit more.
Lots of locals came up to chat and ask questions afterwards and it felt like a real success.
Another thing I got a kick out of was seeing my poster all around town, in cafes and shop windows and in the historic precinct. It felt pretty cool to be world-famous in Oamaru.
Of course when in Oamaru you have to do as Oamaruvians do – so here are a few random steampunk pictures
So that has been my mad couple of weeks. Thanks so much to everyone who has been part of it – I can’t wait to see what comes next!