If the publication of Flying Tips left me feeling sad because I was going to miss the characters, the launch party was the complete opposite. I can honestly say I’ve never been to a more upbeat event in my life! Probably the experience was different for me than for anyone else in the room (to me it was mad blur) but in the words of the people who were there it was ‘Joyous’, ‘Super Fun and cool’ ‘just gorgeous’, ‘fantastic’, ‘wonderful’, ‘the most colourful book launch EVER’ and the Crescent Arts Centre have publicly decreed: ‘From now on, book launches in the Crescent have to come with a ukulele band!’ (It was on Twitter, that’s legally binding).
Here are some of the highlights:
My sister is possibly the most useful person I know. And the complete opposite of me. She came round my house on Sunday afternoon armed with more makeup than I’ve ever seen in my life, laughed at all of mine (because it fits in one tiny makeup bag), and then proceeded to re-enact that scene from Miss Congeniality where they transform Sandra Bullock from a take-out ordering slob into a beauty queen. Seriously, there were eyelash tweezers and something called ‘primer’. She looked a little bit horrified when she asked for my hairbrush and I said I wasn’t sure I owned one.
We had a themed ‘Circus Concessions’ table with free red noses, popcorn, circus ribbons, pinwheels, sweets, shortbread (made by my mum), wine, juice and a CIRCUS CAKE!!! (made by my mum and sister as a surprise that I didn’t know about until they arrived!) The circus stuff was mostly my sister’s idea too. I was going for low-key; she was having none of it.
Soon everyone was arriving and I was basically hugging people and then running away to hug more people. I wish I’d had more time to talk to everyone, especially people I hadn’t seen in a while (there were people I hadn’t seen since HIGH SCHOOL! and I was so touched that they came).
We had an old suitcase full of circus toys for the kids (and big kids) to play with.
Because there is no situation in life that can’t be turned into an opportunity to promote joining the circus.
Apparently I vastly underestimated the awesomeness of the people in my life, and the room quickly ran out of seats, space and wine glasses!
We started the proceedings by having someone techie put up a projection of the book cover on the wall.
My husband said this was his favourite bit of the night because when the cover went up the whole audience spontaneously cheered! I’ve been thanking people for their support for days, and all that support felt very real at the launch. People told me they were in nerves for me all day because they knew I’d be nervous. And they’re almost as pleased as I am to see this book published, because they’ve been rooting for me all along.
One of the most talented writers in Belfast , Jan Carson, introduced me like I was on This is Your Life with details that made me sound way more awesome than I actually am.
She had Show and Tell props that included a knitted hot water bottle, a ukulele, a bottle of Shloer and candles in the shape of cactuses. In a weird way, this does kind of sum up my life.
I made a speech thanking a long list of people and read a little bit from my book.
I am a nervous public speaker and this was my largest audience ever but it actually went well! I liked having a podium to hide behind. Maybe that makes all the difference.
Then I played a few songs with a group of 30+ ukulele enthusiasts while the audience sang along.
I think this was the highlight of the night for everyone! The thing is, you could play that Anne Hathaway song from Les Mis on a ukulele and it would sound chirpy. There’s just no way to be sad with a tiny 4-stringed guitar in the room. The wonderful Belfast Ukulele Jam are amazing, I love these guys so much! I play with them on Tuesday nights at the Sunflower Bar and they offered to play at the launch just to support me. They’re the nicest, maddest, sunniest people in Belfast and you couldn’t ask for better friends.
The Ukulele Jam played on while people drank more wine and I signed books and my 4 year old nephew danced like a lunatic at the front of the room to every song.
I had a serious case of signature-anxiety because I’m left handed and am well known for my appalling handwriting but this went OK. My fav moment was when a kid from the Belfast Circus School came up to get one signed and I was totally star-struck! These people are my heroes.
And that was it – book officially launched!
Truly surprising moments are rare in life but this was one. I’ve spent the last couple of months feeling awkward about asking people to take a Sunday night out of their lives to make a fuss and a flap over my book. It’s not like I go to celebratory events every time they do a great proposal in a meeting or make a big sale in work. I honestly felt weird about making a big deal of it, like who would really be interested? (TBH I felt the same about asking people to come to my wedding – it could be this is just me)
But, much like my wedding, I spent the whole night just feeling overwhelmed by the love in the room. I was amazed by how many people turned up and how happy they were for me. You only do a first book launch once and I’m so pleased with the memories I’ll be taking away from mine. I was truly touched and I came home feeling very grateful and very blessed and very very happy.
Wow, this got mushy.
So basically what I’m saying is, if you’re going to have a book launch, you can throw as much wine and circus prop-ery at it as you like, but all you really need is the people you love there (and a ukulele band, obvs).
Some red noses in action: