Monday, February 27, 2012

Glamour! The Italian Book Launch: the full report

Pardon my delay in posting a more detailed report on the Italian book launch.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure about the etiquette of it: on one hand, I figure some folks will be interested because you want to know what it’s like to be published, and going abroad for a book launch is part of the dream. You want the details, and I’d like to oblige.

On the other hand, however, some of the people who read my blog are fellow writers, and I have to admit, I feel a bit bad writing about the trip. Even though I know none of them begrudge another writer the good times one bit, I also know that it’s hard not to feel a tiny twinge of jealousy when you hear of an outrageous piece of good fortune that happens to someone else—and not you. 

Believe me, the trip to Italy was completely unexpected. And the experience I had was even more so: as I wrote in a previous post, it was like one of those Hollywood press junkets you hear about. A car picked up me and my husband at the airport and whisked us to the hotel in downtown Milan, where we were met by the head of Longanesi’s publicity department. After an hour’s rest, I went to the lobby to meet Tommaso, also from the publicity department, who was to manage all the interviews for the next three days. I also met my interpreter, Paolo, who would be my alter ego for the duration.

As it turned out, I had been put up in the hotel that my publisher (and others, I think) used for all their visiting authors, and all interviews were conducted on site, so at any given time there were two or three camps of interviews going on. The first two days I shared the lobby with an Argentinean author whose name I didn’t catch; she had the tables in the back half of the lobby while I had the low couches in the front, right by the windows looking out on the street. I would glance over from time to time to see how she was doing, if she was as nervous as me.

There were interviews with newspapers and magazines, with radio stations and television, all from the hotel lobby. There were three photo shoots, too. We did mostly face-to-face interviews, but some were done over the phone, and most required translation, because while everyone I met had some fluency in English, to my shame I have none in Italian. Having a wonderful translator is half the battle, I think, in keeping the interviews alive and enthusiastic and entertaining.

So, an aside about the photographers. Two of them came from photography agencies. Media outlets go to these agencies when they need a photograph of a particular subject. Maybe this happens everywhere but it was new to me. Anyway, these were the photographers who take pictures of all the authors who come to town. One, Leonardo Cendamo, showed me some of the pictures he kept on his digital camera: Joyce Carol Oates, John Banville, Paul Auster, Isabel Allende. It was a little funny to think he was taking a picture of me.

One night, Longanesi hosted a dinner party with Milanese booksellers. It was in a delightful restaurant lined with bookshelves and work of local artists, and there was a big stack of my book in the window behind me. We had wonderful food and wine, and I got to meet some interesting folks, like the gentleman whose bookstore has been in his family for 150 years. He’s the last of the line, and is childless, and anticipates his family’s great tradition will come to an end on his watch. But he just got married a month ago, so perhaps there is hope. We talked about ebooks and the changing book market, comparing what’s happening in the US to Italy, and it seems there is concern all over.

I didn’t feel tired until the very last interview. Somehow I made through, and said goodbye to Tommaso and Paolo (feeling a little lost without them, like being separated from a twin). I went up to the hotel room where my husband was waiting. We hadn’t seen much of each other since the plane had touched down in Italy. It was his first trip to Europe and I’d left him to wander around town on his own, but he said he’d had a good time. From there, we headed on to Florence, but not after visiting that evening with my editor, Fabrizio Cocco, and his wife, Elizabetta, to check out Fabrizio’s guitar collection. All in all, it was a wonderful trip, much more special than I’d ever imagined.

Some of the interviews/reviews that have been published so far: Matteo Sacchi in Il Giornale, a daily; Urban Fantasy, an Italian website for all things horror; Corpi Freddi, a noir website; a very fun one by Sabrina Minetti at Shocking Pink; the cover of Il Giallista (Thriller) magazine; and an interview at Alessia Clapis at Book Lovers. More on the way!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Moments of Bliss, Italian Edition

Our time in Milan wrapped up, we're now in Florence so I can research medieval and Rennaissance life in Italy (not to give anything away for book three). Just like in Milan, there are bookstores every two blocks and I make my husband stop in each one we come across to see if we can find the book. I figure out quicklythat I shouldn't expect it; this is Florence, after all, and the books are mostly about art, with small selections of wildly popular books (think "The Kite Runner") and lots of  vampire novels, for some reason.

So when we run into Edison a huge bookstore on the Plaza of the Republic, I completely miss the giant poster of my book perched right by the door. My husband points it out to me. We found copies with the rest of the novels. In every store it's been piled next to Lauren Kate's just released collection of short stories, "Fallen in Love", because we follow each other alphabetically. A good sign, given her spectacular popularity, I think.

Friday, February 17, 2012

IMMORTAL launch in Milan

Television host Marta Perego interviewing me for Class and Iris programs 
I had intended to blog every day while in Milan for the launch of Immortal (as The Taker is called here) but here it is, the end of the three days and I’m writing my first post, so you see how that went. It has been an absolute whirlwind, just as you imagine it will be.

First of all, I never thought this would happen to me and certainly not for my debut novel. When Longanesi, the publisher in Italy, asked if I would like to come to Milan for the launch, I said yes (of course!) but thought that it would certainly be light duty. After all, I’m completely unknown. Who would want to talk to me?

I vastly underestimated Longanesi’s ability in this regard. (Thanks to Valentina Fortichiari, a dynamo and one of the most gracious women you’d ever meet.)

It was just like a press junket for a movie: you’re put up at a lovely hotel and have interview after interview interrupted by the occasional photo shoot. In the span of 48 hours, there were 19 scheduled interviews, newspapers and magazines, television and radio, websites and book bloggers. We camped out in the lobby—me, Paolo Scopacasa (the interpreter), and Tommaso Gobbi, from Longanesi’s publicity department, who ran everything onsite for three days. The most charm handler you could hope for, a crazy mad multitasker who worked like mad every minute.   

Among the journalists I got to meet:

Matteo Sacchi of Il Gironale, one of the Italian daily papers
And if you read Italian, here is the review
Antonella Fiori, who writes for Metro, a daily newspaper
More Italian adventures upcoming.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

My Big Fat Italian Book Launch: Prep Work

As you may have heard, in a couple days I’m going to Milan for the launch of my book, The Taker. Or Immortal, as it’s being called in Italy.

Don’t worry, this won’t be the last you hear of it. I figure half of the people who read this blog are friends who want to see what I’m up to and the other half are aspiring writers who might be interested in what it’s like to go to a foreign country to introduce your book! As many people have said, I’m living the dream and believe me, I know this doesn’t happen to everyone. I am grateful every minute of the day for the chance.

The countdown started a few weeks back when the Italian publisher, Longanesi, gave me the okay to publish the cover. Haunting, isn’t it? Then a week or so ago, I received copies of their press kit. It’s the first professional one I’ve ever seen and it blew me away. For anyone who loves paper products, a press kit of your own book is like porn. A pocket folder with your cover on it, silken to the touch! The first chapter in booklet format! Press releases extolling the virtues of your book, all with gorgeous artwork. The entire package is lush and beautifully put together.

The book pubs on February 16th, but so far it’s been mentioned in a few Italian book blogs and I’ve gotten several requests for Q&As from bloggers (yay!!) and I’m looking forward to doing more. The publisher has set up three days of interviews. I think they take their books very seriously in Italy.  

This is what I’ve done so far to get ready:
  • Bought a larger suitcase. The hubs is coming with me, after all.
  • Started coming down with a cold. (Of course!)
  • Stocked up on peanut M&Ms, almond Hershey’s kisses and pretzels for the flight over.
  • Tried every possible combination of the Eileen Fisher clothing I own and actually found one outfit that looks really good on me. The rest will have to do.

What I have yet to do:
  • Everything else. 

In less than 48 hours and coming down with a cold.