I’d say he was a growler. Tony. Pretty fierce. He once roamed the forests, eating mice and small humans but now he does security at The Liquor Rooms. He wears a sailor hat and hangs out near the bar, behind a corner. So he can surprise you.
Tony was probably the best craic bear I have met, great big killing paws down. Don’t be fooled by the jaunty hat – he can step up when someone has had too many gin teacups and needs to be escorted back up the steps to the daylight. It’s very easy to forget where you are when you’re in the Liquor Rooms. Or at least, what year you’re in.
Ann Marie from Harper Collins was our very cheerful host for the evening and sure it’s hard not to be cheerful when you’re handing out elderflower gin punch in tea cups the Queen would be proud of. They’ve had a busy year of launches but they’d outdid themselves with this one. I was only admiring the low lighting speakeasy prohibition get drunk because it’s illegal atmosphere when two flappers walked in.
It was Sheena Lambert and Catherine Ryan Howard, absolutely rocking the joint with their stunning costume choices. Sheena assured me later that their headwear had not been stolen from some poor lady of the night’s thigh although we both agreed it would have made a good story, had they in fact bartered for garters.
Kate Bradley, Hazel Gaynor’s editor at Harper Collins kicked off the speeches and told us how she had read Hazel’s second book A Memory of Violets and sniffled cried her way through it. (It’s very sad). She was delighted to finally get to work with Hazel on this book, which they are all very proud of and which will be launched in the UK in September.
Kate introduced Sinead Moriarty, who spoke with such warmth for Hazel, both for her writing and for the lady that she is, echoing the sentiments throughout the room – a nicer, more genuine writer, you will not meet. I particularly liked Sinead’s dress which matched the 1920s red homage (and the book cover).
And then it was time for the lady herself, decked in sparkly red dress and vintage hair. She spoke of her happiness at seeing everyone in the room, of her enjoyment of researching The Girl From The Savoy and its decadent 1920s setting and of her supportive family. Hazel’s two boys were right in front of her (Thing 1 and Thing 2) and they leapt on stage to rapturous applause. It was lovely to see children at a book launch, because only they know the hard work and sacrifice that every writer pours into their work.
With the speeches over, it was time to get back to drinking gin but because I was driving I instead ordered a citrus mocktail. And, I’m not just saying this in the hope of going back to The Liquor Rooms and getting free booze (although…..) it was AMAZING. Nicer than an alcohol one. I swear!
I got chatting to the lovely Amy Gaffney about her novel and to Paul FitzSimons about the scripts he’s working on. I got talking to Susan Lanigan who I met for the first time last week and I can’t wait to read her historical fiction novel White Feathers.
I got speaking to Adrian White whose latest book Dancing to the End of Love is available to buy now. I spoke with Tara Sparling after a while of staring at each other and holding minuscule Twitter profile pics to each other’s faces to see if we did actually know each other.
Joan Brady and I had a great old chinwag about the realities of working in press and media roles (late hours, always on) – her book The Cinderella Reflex is published by Poolbeg. And I caught up with Margaret Scott who has just published The Fallout. I also managed a quick chat with Caroline Finnerty, whose latest novel My Sister’s Child is in the shops too. What a room of talent!
6.30pm is the norm for book launches but if you’re coming from work (like I was) or if you’ve travelled to be there, you might be a bit starvalicious come 9.30pm – which we were, so I accompanied Margaret Madden of Bleach House Library, Carmel Harrington and her friend, Fionnuala Kearney and fresh from the successful Wexford Literary Festival Maria Nolan and Cathy of Heritage Tours for some pizza and sea food. I don’t eat seafood but it’ll still pretty amazing to look at with all those shells and wavey frond things. (Antennae?) *shudders*
It was a lovely way to finish off a gorgeous book launch, talking about books and writing with writers, book bloggers and literary festival organisers. (Element much?)
The highlight of the evening was Carmel Harrington’s flabbergastation at her husband who was live texting from Amsterdam. She’d told him to make sure he didn’t work too hard and actually got out to see a bit of the city. (She meant the museums, ok)
He surprised her with the update that he was doing as she suggested and had left the confines of the hotel, was taking part in a social and was now ‘on a camel.’
Camel? We cried. Camel?!
Laurence of Arabia, we thought. A business man, with his brief case, clinging to two humps.
We needed pictures. Please, we said, get us pictures.
It took an hour. A text in response to Carmel’s – send us a picture of the camel NOW!
What camel? he asked.
Canal. He was in a boat, on the canal, in Amsterdam. As you do.
Still, I reckon the camel and Tony the grizzly security bear would have gotten on very well, don’t you?
The Girl From The Savoy is available to buy now. I have a signed copy to give away here.