Books, birthdays, & book birthdays

This week has been a Big One for many wonderful reasons. On Tuesday it was my 26th birthday. My family joke that I don’t so much have a birthDAY as a birthdayWEEK – it started last Saturday with a party, on Monday my grandparents cooked for me and on Tuesday I went to Thorpe Park with my best friend Izzy (who my main character Isabella is named after) like a proper grown up.

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Then in the evening I went out with my family. And LOOK at my cake!!

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Today Tom was meant to be taking me out for a birthday dinner (sadly I’m ill so maybe it’ll stretch to a birthdayCOUPLEOFWEEKS.)

Yesterday, there was another birthday of sorts. I went to CPI William Clowes in Suffolk with my mum to see THE GIRL OF INK AND STARS being bound.

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IMG_3744It was a real adventure: I got very excited learning how all the machines worked. It was fascinating to watch and of course incredibly strange to see all those copies rolling off the conveyor belt!

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Not-quite-perfect copies in the bin 🙁

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Off to be guillotined!

The staff there were so welcoming and kind. It was great to see the care they took over the book and how they talked about it as ‘our book’.

The team who lay out the pages.

The team who lay out the pages.

Lots of GOIAS covers!

Lots of GOIAS covers!

Spencer, Jo, me, Kevin with GOIAS!

Spencer, Jo, me and Kevin with GOIAS!

Lots of packages of GOIAS ready to ship.

Packages of GOIAS ready to ship.

This sense of shared ownership has been a joy – I’ve felt it as a reader (there are books that feel as much mine as they are the writer’s) but as an author it is even better that there is a team around you from agent to editor to publicist to printer that is wholly invested in making the book a success. GOIAS was a tricky and unusual job (their words, not mine!) because of its two-tone colour printing inside, and map flaps. But their hard work has paid off – the final result is astonishingly beautiful.

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Holding GOIAS in my hands was not only wonderful, but somehow relieving. I really cannot change anything about it now, so there’s no point worrying. Of course, I feel anxious about the reception – I want GOIAS to do well, amazingly even, and for readers to love it, to want to read more – but the writing, the part I have control over? That’s done.

I’ve been half-heartedly writing a few other stories – books 3 (15,000 words so far), 4 (24,000) and 5 (8,500) – but today I woke up clear-headed about their next steps. Before and after writing this post, I’m plotting and editing with my cat Oscar’s help.

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When I get back to Oxford I’m going to clear my desk, borrow research books from the library, and write. Because that’s how this process began, three years ago yesterday; with me sitting down in front of my laptop, and putting one word after another. And look where it ended up.