Saturday, July 3, 2010

Big Apple

Just got home from a few days in New York City. It's been such a surreal week, completed by the fact that Drew Barrymore was on the airplane on the way home! And I was reading a real copy of my book (yes folks, the ARCs have arrived!) during the flight.

I'll back up. Here's my week:

Monday: Flew non-stop to JFK. Met my agent for dinner that night at a Korean restaurant. Had roast duck in lime sauce, wow, so good. I adore Katherine, and it was beyond wonderful to finally meet her in person. I felt like we immediately fell into a natural, easy friendship. And I was so thankful that she made a point to spend a lot of time with me this trip, just so I wouldn't feel alone, country bumpkin in the Big City.

Tuesday: This was the big day for me, the whole reason I came. In the morning there was a meeting about my book at HarperCollins. I came into the conference room and there, sitting on the table with the fruit tray, were three real copies of my book! The Advanced Readers Copies (ARCs, as I said before) have been printed. Yippee! (I tried not to shout yippee at the meeting. . .) There were lots of people at the meeting, enough that I finally gave up trying to remember everybody's name--my editor and her assistant, Katherine, marketing people and sales people and people in charge. And they all seemed to have read the book and liked it. I sat at the end of the table and they talked about how much they loved Unearthly and asked me questions about how I came up with different ideas and about the characters and about my schedule for winter.

After that they hustled me over to a studio and shot the author's video. That too was crazy surreal, especially when they had me look into the camera and say, "Hi Barnes and Noble readers, I'm Cynthia Hand, author of Unearthly," and then like 6 other bookstores, one after another. I hope the video turns out okay--it's so weird being a writer at this stage, because writing is such a solitary act and then suddenly they drag you out into the spotlight and you have to perform, in a way. I should be okay at this: I minored in theatre, was in probably 25 or so plays way back when, but I still thought it was hard. A lot of pressure, like this is a huge chance to connect with my reader, this is a part where I am actively selling my own book. I really didn't want to screw it up. But then I tried to remind myself that it will only get easier with time, just like with teaching when at first I was stiff and partially terrified during every class I taught and now I'm relaxed and enjoy myself so much. So too, with this marketing stuff.

After the video I hung out in my editor's office for a while and then we headed off to lunch (me, Farrin my editor, and Catherine, her assistant). Again, the food was amazing. New York definitely has some fantastic restaurants, and the people taking me out all the time always knew the best places, so I dined like a queen on my trip. Yum. And again, it was wonderful to get to interact with these people face to face.

After lunch I wandered over to Rockefeller Center and took the Top of the Rock tour, which meant I rode the elevator to the top and looked out on the city. I noticed, not for the first time in NYC, that I am not terribly comfortable in elevators crammed with people. I got someone to take my picture at the top:
Notice that I'm clutching a book--yep, it's MY book, actually an ARC wrapped in the hardback cover sample they gave me. Notice also the lavender shirt I'm wearing--my good friend Kristin Naca (HarperCollins poet herself) Fed-Exed the shirt to me at my hotel. She knew I was having a tough time deciding on what to wear, which she fully understood because she had to do a video interview with Yusef Komunyakaa for the MTVU award. So she sent me the shirt, which turned out to be perfect. It evens looks good with my book, which has purple overtones. Don't I have awesome friends?

That afternoon I headed downtown to Curtis Brown to meet up with Katherine again, and got to meet my other fabulous agents: Holly, my film agent, and Ginger, my foreign rights agent. So fun to sit in a room with them and just get to know them a little. By this point I'd been smiling so much that day that my teeth were all dry. Afterwards Katherine and I caught a movie (Cyrus, pretty funny) and had some dinner. Again with the delicious food.

It was a day that seriously felt like I could have dreamed it up. Even now it doesn't feel totally real.

Wednesday: my birthday. I woke up early and headed over to the Met (the Metropolitan Museum of Art). I had intended to spend a few hours there and then walk around Central Park but I ended up spending lots of hours there, since it was so huge and it had such amazing stuff! It has a whole Picasso wing! It had multiple paintings by famous artists: Monet, Matisse, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Cassatt, Degas, the list goes on and on. It also has an amazing Egyptian exhibit. (I'll load the pics to facebook.)

Then I went to Broadway to see Wicked. I have wanted to see this show for ages, since I've been an avid fan of Oz since I was a kid and read Maguire's book when it first came out. And it was great. I had to laugh at the little boy behind me who kept complaining, "Why do they always have to sing so high?"

After that I walked back to my hotel and rested for about an hour, then headed off again to the East Village for dinner with Katherine and Farrin at a little Mexican place. Again, spectacular food and company. Riding back to my hotel in a cab, I was overtaken by a wave of sadness that it was all over. The trip I'd been wildly anticipating for months was pretty much done.

Thursday: Airport. Drew Barrymore on the plane! And then home, home, home, where my son looked so delighted to see me that it totally melted my heart. Later, as I was putting him to bed I said, "I missed you so much. Every day I woke up and thought, where's my little boy? I miss him!" and he said, "I was right here, Mommy, waiting for you to come back." Aw.

It's good to be home. And writing again, moving forward into Book 2. And yesterday I got the galleys in the mail, my last chance to comb through Unearthly and make changes. So that's what I'll be up to the next few days.


YA Book Queen said...

Drew Barrymore was on your plane!? How cool!!

Nice shirt too, even more awesome that it matches the arc ;)

Happy belated Bday! =)

Vonna said...

It sounds like a wonderful trip and best of all was getting to read your own book on the plane ride home. Congratulations!

bclement412 said...

sounds like such a great trip!