Sarah Rees Brennan (sarahtales) wrote,
Sarah Rees Brennan
sarahtales

What I Did On My Extremely Businesslike Business Trip

So, this many a long day ago, my agent the Fabulous Kristin said unto me, 'Sarah, I am going to the Bologna Book Fair. You are coming with me, to learn things. Besides, you are European, it is practically next door.'
'Yes, Fabulous Kristin,' I said to her.
'Don't call me that,' she said.
'Yes, Fabulous Kristin,' I replied.

So then I went to book flights, and found out that the airline I collect my frequent flyer miles on only flew me to Venice, and that a couple of days early.

SARAH: OH NO, A WEEKEND IN VEN - oh. Oh now I think about it, I guess that's okay. Hey Durham Lass! Come with me for a Weekend in Venice.
DURHAM LASS: Why are you so crazy? What are you babbling about now? I will not.
SARAH: Come with me!
DURHAM LASS: Okay.

So when the time came, off we went to Venice. Venice is one of the prettiest cities I have ever been to, and I now love it. Most cities, they give off an air of 'Oh, a RIVER. Oh lord, well, let's put a few bridges over it, minimise the inconvenience.' Venice says 'A RIVER. Just what we wanted. Let's make it an underwater street!'

I've never been in a place where the land and water were so interactive, and blended so beautifully. We all wait for the bus on a little floating platform! The bus, just an ordinary bus that people obviously piled on after their work day, was a boat. We wandered the sunlight-yellow streets and bridges and we went to the island of Murano, where a shifty-looking man beckoned us into a darkened warehouse.

We followed him, and instead of being sold into the slave trade as we deserved, we got to see glass blowing. They made the molten glass stretch like toffee into amazing shapes. On our way back in the boat, we saw words written on a wall as we sailed by 'SOMETHING STRANGE HAPPENED HERE.'

I bet, Venice.

Fabulous Kristin and another of her clients and a lovely lady I have in a previous adventure lured to an Irish castle, Ally Carter, came down from Bologna to spend the day with us. We had a lovely tour guide for the day, who did not seem at all fazed by how crazy writers are.

ALLY (who is golden-haired, serene and wrote a book called Heist Society all about teenage criminals): Look at the ceiling.
KRISTIN: Beautiful!
ALLY: The security here's not really what it could be. I can think of several ways to steal these paintings.
SARAH: Oh look, mummified hands!
KRISTIN: I am sure those hands are wooden.
TOUR GUIDE: No... she's right.
SARAH: *mildly gratified*
KRISTIN: One day, I just know I'll be getting the 'bail me out of jail' call. But from which author? I fret and fret.

We were wandering through St Mark's when Kristin shared some information with us.

KRISTIN: Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp are filming here.
DURHAM LASS AND ALLY: *sudden extreme interest*
SARAH: I SEE THEM! *sudden high-pitched squeal, plunge into crowd*
ALLY, KRISTIN AND DURHAM LASS: She sees them! She sees them! Where are they?

When I returned with Cassandra Clare and Josh Lewis, I believe they were rather hurt to behold how disappointed everyone was to see them...

We did not ever find Angelina Jolie or Johnny Depp, but we did locate Maureen Johnson and Daphne Unfeasible, known in the real world as Maureen's lovely agent Kate Testerman, so that was okay. And then it was time for the Bologna Book Fair.

Now, I do not know how to put pictures on the internet, because I am technologically incompetent. I own a Walkman! But here are pictures (some with me in them to prove I was there!) taken by the lovely Ally and the fabulous Kristin which show you a bit what the fair was like.

What writers mostly do at these fairs is meet their foreign publishers, which is lovely. These are the foreign publishers of Demon's Lexicon so far...

Finnish Rights: WSOY
German Rights: Bertelsmann Jugendbuch Verlag
Turkish Rights: Alfa/Artemis
Russian Rights: Recliff Holdings, Ltd (AST)
Israeli Rights: Miskal Publisher
French Rights: Albin Michel
Japanese Rights: Media Factory
Spanish Rights: Versatil
Complex Chinese Rights: Crown Publishing
Portuguese Rights: Presenca
Indonesian Rights:UFUK
Czech Rights: Zoner Press
Taiwanese Rights: Crown Publishing
Ukrainian Rights: Bohdan Publishing House

I find them all very pleasing! It was especially cool to meet my Spanish publishers, where we talked about me maybe going to Madrid next year, and my French editor, where we talked about covers and she said Demon's Lexicon was coming out in September.

My lovely German editor nearly gave me a heart attack when she asked me about what I was working on next. I'd never talked about it before, but I gave it my best shot...

The fair is mostly for publishers, and they experience it entirely differently: here is a conversation between me and my friend who works in foreign rights.

ME: I am so tired! Two meetings this morning!
MY FR FRIEND: I had SEVENTEEN meetings this morning.
ME: Oh, poor petal. Do you want to come have lunch?
MY FR FRIEND: Lunch is a sandwich in the bathroom.

The evenings were more hectic, with parties and dinners (the food in Bologna is crazy good, and Barry Goldblatt, Holly Black and Cassandra Clare's agent, is a hero of the revolution - the revolution of finding amazing restaurants) and people staggering around in exhaustion from travel.

MY FR FRIEND: Finally, here we both are at the Dutch party, a chance to talk.
ME: Gotta go have dinner with my lovely German editor! MY DEVOTION REMAINS UNALTERABLE!

I say that a lot to my friends. 'Sorry I set the sofa on fire. My devotion remains unalterable!' 'Wait there and don't look back no matter what you hear. My devotion remains unalterable!'

I only experienced leaving the fair in one of the fair buses once. It was an unforgettable experience. Maureen Johnson and I may be married now. Things became very intense.

Almost as intense as when Theo Black, web designer for the ages, picked up a sword and joined in the swordfighting in the Italian courtyard to promote Kristin Cashore's awesome book Fire. (He was, of course, victorious, but when I reported back that he was off swordfighting nobody believed me at all. The injustice!)

So, that was the Bologna book fair. I learned a lot, though not how to find my way around Bologna.

Leaving Bologna was a bit of a problem. In days before, Cassandra Clare said unto me, 'Let us all take a train from Bologna to Paris, where we will write! We will fall asleep in Italy and wake up in France, lovely!'

It all sounded so perfect. So sophisticated.

Little did we know we were boarding the train of doom.

Holly and Theo Black were put in a compartment with four schoolchildren. Luckily for me, I shared my compartment with a nice publishing lady called Sophie. I never learned more than that, but Sophie was to be my saviour.

At about three in the morning, the train stopped. I woke in my little shelf bed, somewhat alarmed, but waited in the darkness for another development. We waited for some time. I wanted to know what was happening, but two things prevented me.

One: I was wearing pyjamas with a sparkly red heart that said 'SHOW ME LOVE!' on them.
Two: The ticket officer I had spoken to earlier seemed to know only Italian. Though my best friend forever is half Italian and I grew up spending half my time at her house where they spoke it, I never learned it: instead I IMAGINED what they were saying to me. What good did my imagination do me now?

SOPHIE: I can speak Italian. I am going to find out what is happening.
SARAH: Intrepid Sophie, be careful!
SOPHIE: returns I know all.
SARAH: Tell me all!
SOPHIE: They don't know when the train will be moving again.
SARAH: Dear God, is it the engine? Did someone blow up the tracks?
(You see, my imagination was only making things WORSE.)
SOPHIE: He says that they forgot they needed a driver for the night. They don't know when they will be able to find one.
SARAH: Wha...? Is this a...?
SOPHIE: He says this is not a joke.

I sallied forth from the compartment, despite my pyjamas, to tell the others this news. I also had to tell them it was not a joke.

We were on that train for seventeen hours. It was worst for Holly: she was trapped in her bed above the schoolchildren, like a tin of sardines on the back of a very high shelf. For seventeen hours.

When we staggered from the train into the arms of Paris and our dear Robin Wasserman, author of Skinned, the best book about robots in love ever, we did not look our best. Robin let us in the house anyway.

We soon perked up, because we had something truly awesome to celebrate: Robin has an amazing new book deal! For The Book of Blood and Shadow, which is about history and alchemy and a murder mystery and Prague, and which I read the first hundred pages of, squeaking like a hamster caught in a door. (A hamster caught in a door... in a good way.)

So of course we had to do things like walk along the Seine eating gingerbread ice-cream, and force Robin into buying dresses. (I may have thrown myself on the floor at her feet and cried 'You have to buy it, it makes you look like A SUNSET!' But in my defence, it was quite true.)

When celebrating, I become excited. When excited, I lose command of my French. This was well and truly proven in a restaurant when I cried out, 'I want... LA BREAD GARLIQUE!'

I realise this narrative is very much 'Sarah staggers about Europe like a lunatic.' Something I have not told you guys about this trip is that the whole time, at every spare minute, I was writing the third book of the Demon's Lexicon trilogy.

After Paris, sitting in the sunlight in London on Easter Sunday, I finished it.

I do mean 'finished' in the very loose sense of 'felt ready to send to my Awesome Editor Karen,' since I have already decided to add a hundred pages and rewrite the endgame... but, you know, finished. Time for me to put away my books on acrobats and ballerinas, and take out my books on other things.

I admit after I finished the third book, I realised I was no longer under contract with publishers for anything but short stories. I may have gone into a slight panic spiral.

HOLLY: Whoo! You finished your book! What are you going to do now?
SARAH: I am going to write my next book! The one I told you about!
HOLLY: Hurrah, that one sounds awesome.
SARAH: Then nobody will publish it!
HOLLY: Oh dear...
SARAH: But don't worry! That will be fine!
HOLLY: Oh... good...
SARAH: I'm going to be a sherpa herder.
JOSH: What did you say?
SARAH: A sherpa herder! Me and my little sherpas, happy on the mountains-
CASSIE: Sarah. Sarah, what do you think a sherpa is?
SARAH: Sort of - a cross between a llama and a sheep?
JOSH: No, they are mountain guides.
SARAH: Like dolphins!
HOLLY: Like people with jobs.
SARAH: MY FUTURE IS IN RUINS.

The final scene of the trilogy, as it stands, is in Kensington Gardens. I was wandering around taking additional notes on said gardens, and then I returned to our picnic party. Holly and Cassandra were leering up at me strangely.

CASSIE: Sarah we are so glad you are back. We missed you!
SARAH: Aw, you guys.
HOLLY: We saaaved you something.

Readers, it was a giant worm. About half as long as a baby's arm. BUT THAT IS TOO BIG FOR A WORM.

I screamed and screamed. It is a comfort to know, despite the fact my sherpa-herding career is doomed, that I will always have friends to save giant worms for me...

And then I came home to find my brand new US paperback copies of the Demon's Lexicon spread out for me on my bed by the Durham Lass. Nothing wrong with home either!

Any questions on book fairs, or evil trains, or votes on my future life now sherpa herding is out? I stand ready...
Tags: stumbling through publication
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