Photo by Nicola Stantiford
The launch of 'Dart' on Friday night at the Halo Cafe Bar in Bristol went pretty well: apart from a rather wobbly lectern, there were no hitches, the audience was attentive and appreciative, and I sold enough copies of the tome to off-set costs, which, of course, is what a launch is all about.
Or is it? I'll remember the evening for other, more special reasons.
First, the sight of two of my colleagues from the school for deaf children where I work signing my words, and Reg Meuross's songs, so that a third, who is deaf, could be part of the evening. To see 'Dart''s first translation into a different language in process was beautiful, moving and exciting. I must have the best colleagues in the western hemisphere.
Hearing the voices of my characters, which for years resounded only in my head, somehow cross the 665 years between them and me was just brilliant. And that some of them were read by my son, Samuel, who has autism and learning difficulties but who performed with confidence and aplomb, was miraculous.
The last hour before the launch started, when the room filled up with people I love from all eras and areas of my life, was so warm and sustaining that I'll keep the memory in my pocket and take it whenever I need it.
Photo by Maxine Fone
I'd like to say a few thank yous:
to my troupe of readers, Pameli Benham, Ruth Boston, Maxine Fone, Samuel Grashoff and John Terry (who has also taken my lectern home to fix);
to my mediaeval troubadour, Reg Meuross, whose songs dovetailed so well with the themes of the night (except, maybe, for 'It's Me or Elvis' although, as Reg pointed out, the King of Rock and Roll is dead, much like most victims of the plague);
to Hazel Hammond for being a warm and capable MC and for bringing three turnips along to add to my collection of root vegetable lanterns gurning from the sides of the room;
to Andi Langford-Woods for the loan of her PA and her reassuring expertise;
to Jenny, my daughter, who filmed it;
to the wonderful writer for young adults, Julie Hearn, for providing me with a quote for the back cover, becoming a dear friend and fellow-jaunter, and travelling down from Abingdon to be there on the night;
to my cousin Sandra who made a blizzard-defying flight across the Atlantic from New Jersey;
to my friend, Jill, for providing late night curry, champagne and company,
and to everyone else who attended. You have all made my inner seven year old, who always wanted to be a writer but whom I ignored for far too long, very happy indeed.
Illustration by Dru Marland