Lo, I have returned to the snowy shores of Canadia (as one of my hosts on my last night in the UK jokingly called it), tired but happy. It was a busy week packed with school visits, store events, and meetings with booksellers and sales reps, not to mention plenty of time in planes, trains and automobiles getting from one point to another.

But the folks at Orchard Books took excellent care of me, and the schoolchildren and loyal readers who attended my events in Fleetwood (check out the amazing Rossall School where I did my first school visit -- Hogwarts, eat your heart out!), Benton Park High School in Leeds, Newcastle's Royal Grammar School and the rather nifty Cramlington Learning Village, and London's Muswell Hill were all wonderfully attentive and charming.

I was also pleased to meet several folks I'd been chatting with online, some (like [livejournal.com profile] davidbrider and [livejournal.com profile] alawston) long before I was published, and also spent a lovely final evening with the Bradnam family in East Croydon, who made me very welcome.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and would gladly do it again! Though not perhaps for another year or so...

On one of my last couple of days there, I did a special interview with Orchard Books answering questions posed by readers on Twitter, such as "Which author inspired you the most?" and "Are the characters of Knife, Rebel and Arrow based on any real people?" You can see the answers here under the cut )

And I also came back with glorious swag, including some books for my boys, and an especially nifty little something you can see demonstrated in this video right here )

Now I get to spend the rest of February researching and preparing to write Swift -- my bedside table is piled high with books on Cornwall right now. I've already learned some quite interesting things about the faery legends of that area that are making me excited to start this new chapter in the series!
Monday 31 January: LONDON
12:30 p.m. -- Foyle's, 113-119 Charing Cross Road, London
1:30 p.m. -- Blackwell's, 100 Charing Cross Road, London

Tuesday 1 February: LEEDS
4:30 p.m. -- Waterstone's, 93-97 Albion Street, Leeds

Wednesday 2 February: NEWCASTLE
4:30 p.m. -- Waterstone's, Blackett Street, Newcastle


Getting excited now -- so close!
I am happy to announce that today is the official UK and Ireland release date of Arrow! It should now be widely available in bookstores, and I hope my readers will like it.

***

I can also now share a little more detail about my planned trip to England at the end of this month. I'm still waiting for confirmation on a few times and locations, but I'll be splitting my time between London and the North, and the general run of events will look something like this:

31 January:
Book Signings at Foyle's (Charing Cross Road) and Blackwell's (also Charing Cross Road), London (PM).

1 February:
Author Visits to Rossall Junior School, Lancs. (AM) and Benton Park High School, Leeds (PM).

2 February:
Author Visits to Royal Grammar School, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne (AM) and other school TBA (PM).

3 February:
Two more school visits in London and Area (details when available).


I'll also be in London on 4 and 5 February, as my plane doesn't leave until the 6th -- so if there's anybody in the area who would like to get together on the Saturday (or can recommend a reasonably priced hotel in central London for me to stay in on Friday and Saturday night!) then I'd love to hear from you.

***

I am now wonderfully close to finishing my last major revision of Ultraviolet before it goes to the copyeditors and gets turned into galleys. I plan to get the final chapter written today, then spend the next three days reading it over and giving it one last polish before it's out of my hands.

And then, gentle readers, I shall collapse, because 2010 has been by far the busiest and most demanding creative year of my life. I guess that's what happens when you have a book coming out every six months in 2011/12. But it's been rewarding and enlightening, too.

Belated best wishes to everyone for a happy 2011!

Winter Snow
Originally uploaded by rj-anderson
An utterly inconsequential video really, but it is proof that I have discovered how to shoot videos with my camera and upload them to the Internet, which may mean very bad good things later on.

And speaking of multimedia, I discovered today that the complete and unabridged audiobook of Knife as read by British actor Emma Parish is now available for sale. There's a 5-minute sample from the first chapter on that page if you're interested -- the accent she's given Wink is rather adorable, IMO!

And finally, I have decided that SWIFT (book #4 in my faery series) will be set in Cornwall, land of my maternal ancestors, and that I ought to go there as soon as possible in the interests of eating pasties and saffron buns until I asplode research. Whether this will actually happen is anyone's guess, but I like to think about it, you know?

Jet Lag Day

Sep. 4th, 2008 09:53 am
rj_anderson: (Top Gear - Speed of Henry VIII)
I am home from the UK now but absolutely delirious off my rocker, despite having gone to bed at 9:30 p.m. (EST) last night and slept until 6:30 (EST) this morning. My body still seems to think that I was up until 2:30 a.m. last night and slept in until 11:30, and it DOES NOT WANT.

So I am taking today off, mostly. I have to get some Emergency Groceries to tide us over until next week, and I have Youngest Son to look after (and speaking of whom, the welcome I got from him last night after 10 days away was spectacular, I have to tell you, he lit up like a three-year-old roman candle and squealed "Mommmyyyyy!!!" as he flung himself around my ankles). But other than that, I am going to spend the rest of the day doing approximately nothing.

Also, my f-list exhausts me. I love you all, but I am currently at Skip=100 and have yet to get back as far as the end of August. So I will beg you all to indulge me, and say that if over the last ten days you have posted anything of Great Importance, Tremenjus Hilarity, Deep Philosophical Import, or to which a comment from me is Urgently Required, would you please put a link in the comments here? Thank you.

*collapses*
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I have three books on Welsh folklore coming to me in about ten minutes, but in the meantime I am haunting the workstations at the National Library of Wales. Eeee! The book geek in me is in ecstasy here.

We got into Aberystwyth last night about three hours after we were actually supposed to arrive, but my WORD this place is gorgeous. The scenery on the way in was pretty dismal from Horley up to Birmingham and beyond -- the backs of factories, a few meagre pastures, the worst end of every village we passed, and everywhere red brick, red brick, red brick. But as soon as we approached Wales... it was like travelling into Middle-Earth, and just got more so once we crossed the Welsh border.

I'd thought on my last visit that north Wales was the most beautiful place on the whole trip, but mid-Wales is almost as beautiful, if not more so. I had a moment of panic when we passed through Borth, which is on a flat coastal plain and looks like a Newfoundland fishing village (and not in the good way), but then the hills came back again and suddenly we were in Aberystwyth which turned out to be delightful... but I can't really do it justice in description, I'll post pictures when I get back.

Anyway, as you can tell I'm having great fun, thanks for your comments and good wishes on the last post!
Thanks to train delays and some sort of booking error, we missed our connection to Aberystwyth and can't catch another train for a couple of hours, so here I am in Birmingham at an internet cafe, having a rather splendid time. And this actually works out perfectly because I needed to research this area, so now I have time to do it properly!

Based on my limited Internet research I had been led to believe that Birmingham New Street station and the area around it was a bit of a dump, but that just goes to show the importance of firsthand experience, because it is quite a sophisticated and attractive shopping area and there's nothing particularly dumpy about the station (inside, at least) at all. I don't know yet how much (if any) of Wayfarer is going to take place here, but at least now I have a mental picture (and some photos too) to guide me if need be...

The trains this morning were quite pleasant too, though the one from Redhill to Reading was a bit smelly and grotty compared to the others. Local colour? We stayed last night in Horley, just a few minutes outside of Gatwick -- all the houses there were made of rusty-colored brick with roofs of moldering gray slate and the town as a whole wasn't especially attractive, but we found a rather nice pub called the Six Bells where we had an excellent meal.

Our train to Aberystwyth leaves in half an hour so I will have to sign off now and get back to the station, but I'm glad I could post this to let you all know (like you were all sitting there biting your nails and worrying -- heh) that I've arrived safely in the UK and that all is going well so far! I hope to post again later in the week.

Books bought today, courtesy of Waterstone's:
- Philip Reeve's Here Lies Arthur and Starcross
- Eva Ibbotson's A Company of Swans

TTFN!
So originally I thought I was doing this research trip to the south of England and west Wales in late October, and it would be the off-season so finding accommodation would be easy and there was plenty of time to make plans.

Now it looks like we're doing it in mid-to-late August, and... not so much. Especially as it seems unavoidable that we'll be there over the dreaded Bank Holiday weekend.

I am, frankly, overwhelmed. Flights aren't a problem, but once we get into Gatwick, my planning brain freezes.

I know London is ridiculously expensive to stay in, so I was thinking it'd be better to take the train out of London and find a B&B in some pleasant town in Kent, although I am not entirely sure which. Any suggestions from those in the know? We'll need easy access to a train station, so we can get back into London on a couple of day trips, but it would be nice to travel a bit around Kent as well.

I'd like to visit Squerryes Court in Westerham, on which my fictional "Waverley Hall" is partly based; I've had my eye on Eynsford in Dartford as a possible location for the village nearest to where the McCormicks (and the Oakenfolk) live. But other than that, I know nothing, and would be glad of recommendations for other nice places in the area that we ought to visit or where we might stay overnight without utterly impoverishing ourselves (and which can be easily accessed using public transportation, please -- I don't think we'll rent a car until we get to Wales).

After we've spent 3-4 days touring Kent and visiting London, I'd like to take a train to the Cardigan Bay area of Wales and do some touring around there before we return to London and fly back home. Again, any suggestions for what we should see (or avoid) in that area?

Thanks for any help you can offer...

ETA: By "we" I mean "my husband and I", as we will not be taking our kids on this journey. So we'd only be needing a double or twin room, no "family" accommodations or attractions. Thanks.
And now it's time for the Friday Five:

1. Where were you born?
Mengo Hospital, Kampala, Uganda, Africa. Cool, huh? (My parents were there for three years while my father taught Bible at a local school. We moved back to Canada a few weeks after I was born.)

2. If you still live there, where would you rather move to? If you don't live there, do you want to move back? Why or why not?
I don't remember Uganda, of course. But from what I hear, the country has been so devastated by various dictatorships, and now by AIDS, that much of the beauty my parents and brothers remember has been lost. I must admit I've never really felt a pull to go there -- I was always much more interested in going to England, where my father comes from.

3. Where in the world do you feel the safest?
Oddly, I felt incredibly safe walking alone through downtown Tel Aviv at eleven o'clock the night after my Bible school class landed in Israel -- much more so than I've felt anywhere in Canada. That was way back in 1994, of course, and my sense of security may just have been pure ignorance of the potential dangers, but I really wasn't worried at all. Whereas if I'd been in downtown Toronto at that hour, I'd have been petrified.

4. Do you feel you are well-traveled?
Before 1992, I was hardly travelled at all, at least not outside Ontario. But then in my early twenties I went to Mexico, Israel and Great Britain, all within the space of four years; and I spent a year going to school in New Jersey as well, during which I visited New York and Washington. And since my marriage I've been out to British Columbia (which I'd always wanted to do) and also to Florida. Which is good, because now I've got kids I'm not likely to be travelling again for the next twenty years or so. :)

5. Where is the most interesting place you've been?
Israel, hands-down. Oddly, though I'm a Judeophile, I'd never felt the typical Biblicist's eagerness to see "the Holy Land", and was only mildly intrigued by the prospect of going there. Probably because I was expecting a lot of tourist traps, and big ugly cathedrals parked on top of every site of real Biblical interest. However I soon discovered that it was only the New Testament sites that had been so defaced, and not even all of those; and there were still a lot of really fascinating sites from Old Testament and inter- / post-testamental history. Especially the rabbinical tombs at Bet Shearim, which were pure Indiana Jones stuff. (Although, I am almost entirely sure that we were not actually supposed to go in to that particular part of the tombs, as there was a chain across and the stairs leading up were insanely precarious. But the guy supervising the site did wave us in after we'd stood behind the chain and whined for a while, so...)
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