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!


  1. Hi, Alma. It sounds like you had a wonderful, whirlwind time in Italy. As a fellow writer, of course I would love to have such an opportunity also, yet I'm so happy this "outrageous piece of good fortune" has happened for you!

    1. Aw, thank you, Tracy! I'm still gobsmacked. Unbelievable. Makes me wonder what it must be like to be Charlaine Harris or Michael Chabon.

  2. I admit, a bit of drool escaped as I read your recap, lol. But I truly couldn't be happier for you, Alma. You and your book are so deserving of the royal treatment. Congrats to you, my friend!