I recently visited my parents in Hong Kong – my childhood home. I go back as often as I can (not that often on an author’s income!) and it’s so great to be immersed back into the sights, smells and sounds of my youth; just visiting the park we used to play in or the beaches we used to build sandcastles on is so evocative and really reminds me of bossing my 5 sisters around and organising all kinds of games and adventures.
One of my sisters still lives there and now runs a school. She asked me to come in and read my books and I suddenly thought: why not ask around book shops too? This was my first ‘book tour’ and, having no idea how to organise it, I contacted my publisher. The Hong Kong section were fantastic and my contact there managed to organise events at three different book shops.
Off I went, with hand luggage of a large doll, a baby’s hairbrush, and a selection of pirate clothes and coins. I was a bit nervous of speaking to a new market, especially as while I was there the visits started to snowball – suddenly one of my book readings had turned from a simple read aloud session into a yummy mummy and daughter pamper day, with a local salon sponsoring hair styling and nail painting while I read The Fairytale Hairdresser. Then Timeout Hong Kong somehow got wind of the ‘book tour’ and asked me to write an article about my writing process and my visit to Hong Kong.
As it turned out I had no reason to be nervous as of course (massive cliché coming up…) children are children. They loved hearing the stories and spotting the fairy tale characters in the illustrations. They queued up to brush Rapunzel’s hair and touch the pirate coins and pored over my sketchbooks and notes and at one of the visits I signed 200 books until my signature started to go a little too wiggly.
For me there was something very special about reading the stories in my childhood home. Many of the stories I told my younger sisters have become ideas for my picture books and it was really satisfying (and quite emotional) to bring things full circle.So my conclusion – if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Next time I travel anywhere I am definitely going to approach local book shops in advance.
You never know what might happen!