Friday, September 28, 2007

Fabulous Sydney! Brilliant bookshops and fine, fine folk

It's been a very busy few days! I came up to Sydney on Tuesday for a combined work/work/fun trip: two days of work at the office, plus a bunch of bookshop-related events in the evenings and on my "days off".

Sydney has turned on the beautiful weather, I've met wonderful people, and the speaking gigs have gone off a treat. There's hardly been a moment spare in amongst all this activity, but I did manage to fit in an early (and I do mean early) morning walk through the Botanical Gardens, along the water and up to the Opera House. Yeah, I'm a tourist - and loving it.

On Tuesday night I entered the Den of Temptation that is Gleebooks. I wish I'd had a proper chance to explore this fabulous shop and get lost among the head-high stacks of books piled up on the tables, but I was rushing like mad, and made it just in time to do the presentation. Gleebooks runs a regular program of bookish events (big thanks to the lovely Morgan), and draws a terrific audience. There were loads of questions, lots of signings, and I had a great time. Can't wait for my next Sydney trip so I can go back and completely blow the budget in this great shop.

During the day on Thursday Allen & Unwin Publicist Extraordinaire and top chick Renee Senogles whizzed me around to a radio interview and then to visit a bunch of other great bookstores, including Better Read than Dead in Newtown (more temptation - and thanks for the delicious pineapple-mint frappe!) and Abbey's Bookshop in the city, where I met the lovely Sofia. Sofia was the first kind stranger to contact me "out of the blue" by email after Gatsby came out. She wrote me such a beautiful letter that I ended up sobbing in front of the computer. So it was great to meet her in person. We both managed not to cry like idiots.

At The Children's Bookshop in Beecroft (Beecroft - what a cool name) I met Paul Macdonald who owns the store and runs a whole raft of programs and workshops for kids, and also for teachers and librarians. We discovered a shared passion for The Great Gatsby, Hamlet, and T.S. Eliot's box-of-marvels-in-a-poem, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. What we didn't agree on was Daisy Buchanan. Paul described her as his most despised character in literature - whereas she is, of course, my favourite! We had a great chat about this, and I've promised Paul that I'll send him copies of some of my early "dirty" Daisy character sketches. I'll post them on the blog, too, once I get back to Melbourne. She started out as a really dirty bird!

Last night I did another talk, this time at wonder-emporium, Kinokuniya. The first thing I saw when I raced into the shop was the huge display of Gatsbys right up the front. The clever person who put this display together had also included little stacks of various editions of the original novel, which I thought was excellent. Again, a great audience, which included the fabulous W. Chew "Chewie" Chan, who is Kinokuniya's Comics/Graphic Novels Consultant (They have a consultant for this! They are so cool!!). Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Chewie nodding enthusiastically throughout the talk, which made me beam! Chewie has promised to put photos from the event up on Kinokuniya's Facebook page (naturally I left my camera at the hotel). I've resisted thus far, but I think I'm going to have to join Facebook now... As if the internet were not already eating my life.

After the gig I also had the pleasure of meeting the "Fabulous Sebastian" (this is his preferred name). This fine gent is the wrestling commentator sidekick of my buddy mister J, wrestling cartoonist extraordinaire. Truth in advertising - I found him to be fabulous indeed.

Something else quite mysterious and lovely happened at the end of the Kinokuniya presentation. A lady came up to have her books signed - and she'd bought four copies. We had a little chat, but she didn't tell me her name. After she'd left, Chewie appeared with a Kinokuniya bag, and told me that this lady had given me a present - a copy of Norton Juster's 1961 novel, The Phantom Tollbooth, with illustrations by Jules Pfeiffer. How sweet and generous! I don't know this lady's name, and I would have so much liked to thank her. If you are reading this, mystery gifter, thank you so much - and please do get in touch!

Now, Friday morning, I'm just waiting for Kinokuniya to open so I can snap a photo of that great display before hauling my overstuffed bags down to Central Station and catching the train to Newcastle for the National Young Writers Festival. It's going to be a BIG weekend...!

More - with pictures - soon.


scootergrrl said...

Terrific post!! :D

V happy for you chica! *clappin*

Have fun in Newcastle!

Kick some Tan butt in the draw off ;)

Greg G said...

Those already on Facebook can watch the Sunday Arts program in the ""The Great Gatsby" is better with seahorses" group -"