Or “Deodorant Fail.”
So I’ve discovered that it is possible to stalk your favourite writers on social media. I never knew it could be so easy! Recently, Monica McInerney posted on Facebook that she would be doing a book signing near me. I’ve never been to a book signing before. Did you know that you can just turn up to these things? You don’t need to be a special sort of person or anything. You can just go. It’s allowed.
Of course, it would take a bit of family logistics. We would need to rush back from swimming lessons, I would need to sweet-talk Christopher to march straight back from school so he could babysit his siblings for me. I would need to clamber into my lucky alpaca-print dress and scribble on some last-minute make-up (at least I didn’t need lipstick). I would need to do battle with all things Chadstone. But then I would be there, standing in line clutching my copies of the pretty new book and listening to the people ahead of me tell their story. I didn’t want the queue to move too fast. Once my copy was signed, I wouldn’t have a reason to be there any more.
The lady ahead of me tells me she likes my earrings. As well as the new book, she’s holding a battered old copy of The Alphabet Sisters and a photo of her three daughters who have the initials A, B and C. One of the books on the shelf out the front is from Affirm Press, my wonderful shiny new publisher. Would I see my own book here next year?
The lady in front of me asks if I would take a photo of her when she meets Monica. I agree readily, then bite my lip.
“YOU MIGHT LIKE TO READ MY BOOK NEXT YEAR. IT’S BY KATE SOLLY BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE A TITLE YET.” I blurt out. The lady looks startled, but then it’s her turn with Monica McInerney.
There is something wonderful about the way Ms McInerney connects with each person in the line. For the time she is signing their book, it’s as if they are the only people in the room. Everybody has come with a story and Monica McInerney wants to hear every detail. I am enchanted. The people behind me seem to shift impatiently.
It’s my turn and the lady in front of me takes a photo. As she hands me back my phone she tells MM that I’ve written a book. I gulp and nod and breathlessly fill in the details, vaguely gesturing towards Christian White’s bestseller as I do.
I give the names of my three youngest children for the first book and MM carefully copies their names down. “And how are ‘Annie, Pippi, and Penny’ related to you?” MM asks.
My eyes bulge. I don’t know. I DON’T KNOW. “Oh! Um! They are my sisters. Wait! No! They are my daughters! Daughters!”
At this stage I am more perspiration than person. Then MM asks me what my book is about.
Here’s the thing. Even when someone ordinary asks me this question, I freeze. The elevator pitch! Quick! Roll out the elevator pitch! Ack! Why can’t you get this right? How can you condense 80,000 words and five years of your life into two sentences when a minute ago you couldn’t even remember you had kids?
I gaze back imploringly, give a little whimper then finally garble out something about “crochet!” and “refugees!” and “yarnbombing!” How does anyone talk when their mouth is so chock-full of tongue and teeth? It’s a physical impossibility.
MM gave me the warmest of smiles. “I can see why Affirm snapped it up,” she says, giving me a sound bite memory I will use to light myself up from the inside for years to come.
And THEN! Then she insisted I let her know when my book is coming out so she could put a ‘Happy Publication Day” post on her formidable socials. I’m not sure how I remained standing at this point.
When it was time to go, I wanted to tell her how much her books have meant to me. How before I read Those Faraday Girls I didn’t know that there were books out there that were chatty and humorous and had endearing characters and absorbing plots. How I had since read all of her books, even the novellas and short stories. How they brought me joy and comfort at a time when I had babies that wouldn’t go to sleep and a house that wouldn’t get built. How much I hope to emulate her.
Instead, I carefully manoeuvred my mouth around my oversized tongue and teeth and said “Thank you for writing!” Then I stumbled away in glee and triumph.
When I shared the photo on my family message thread, my sister (Cindy Brady) responded with this edit, highlighting the manic gleam in my eye. What are siblings for?
PS. It struck me that I should promote Monica McInerney’s new book to MY one hundred followers, so then it’s like the same as her promoting me to her 11,000 followers. Favour repaid in full. Monica’s latest book is The Godmothers. She has also written her first junior fiction novel Marcie Gill and the Caravan Park Cat. They are both lovely (Well The Godmothers is – I haven’t read Marcie yet but it looks delicious). Having said that, if you haven’t read anything of Monica’s (we’re on first-name terms now, you see, she’s my BFF) I would also recommend Those Faraday Girls and The Alphabet Sisters. Family Baggage is pure delight as well, even though I’m not sure how that family travel agency would work as a business model in real life.
Wonderful Kate! I was just settling down to nurse the baby after a very hard day (two close families we know sick with covid, another hiccup in the sale of my late father’s apartment, a messy house and way too ‘ugh homeschool math), and wondering if there was something that could make me feel better, when I saw your post. Hurrah! Life with Kate is funny and lovely and much much better!
So glad you got to meet your new BFF! 🤣 she sounds lovely and I’ll look for her books!
I’m so sorry you had a rotten day! Yes, I think you’d like her books, they’re lovely reads.
I got “Lola’s secret” from the library as an ebook! 🥳
Brilliant! I think that’s connected to The Alphabet Sisters, but works as a standalone novel
Yes, I’ll try to hunt down that one, too; this was her only ebook at the library last night…
I love getting eBooks from the library. Most of the time, I borrow audiobooks from the app. I can’t get library eBooks to go on my kindle, and I find it hard to read on a screen. On the other hand, if I keep an eBook going on my phone, it gives me an alternative to mindless scrolling when I pick the phone up absently!
I love this blog Kate !
So excited for you !
Can’t wait to read your new book xx
Aw! Thank you, Penny! I can’t wait either!
I just found all of her books in my library, thanks!
I thought I responded to this, but it’s not showing. That’s fantastic! Thanks, Mary xxx
This was an absolute joy to read! Moving, poignant and so funny too … I’ve sent a link to this by messenger to Monica – I think she’ll love reading this just as much as we all did!
Thank you, Agnes! Being a shameless self-promoter, I shared the link with her too. She said she enjoyed every word! Squeeeeeee!!
I love this so much! I snort laughed all the way through, especially when my close up edit of your excited face was shared.
Aww!! I think the incentive to make my siblings snort-laugh is my single greatest motivation for writing!
My day lights up when I read your posts, Kate – this one is as entertaining as every single one that went before! Will your book be a-laugh-a-line too? Hard to keep it up for 80,000 words or whatever – but if anyone can do it, Kate, you can! You’re the best!! Apart from being my BFF. Love you, Kate.
Ohhh! Thank you so much, Lorella! I would love for the book to be ‘laugh-a-line’, but it definitely doesn’t keep that up for 80,000 words! I would say it’s feelgood fiction with some funny scenes sprinkled throughout. I can’t wait for you to read it!
You know me, Kate, I was just being flippant as usual – no author could keep up a-laugh-a-line for 80,000 words unless their readers were totally sozzled & prepared to laugh at their own grandmother’s funeral 😉 – but I do love humour spread generously through a book and, judging by your Laptop posts, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of that. Looking forward to Kate Solly book signing day!
Oh, I can’t wait either! It’s looking to be December or January, as it’s perfect summer reading. I’m just itching to hold it in my hands!!
What a yummy piece! Some awesome work there.