I spent most of my launch party full of a strange combination of nerves and excitement. It felt rather like having an important exam on the same day as my birthday party.
I was so giddy I got on the wrong train twice on my way there! When I did arrive, it was amazing to see my book on the shelves. It was the first time I had seen it on a store shelf in person and I felt a real sense of achievement when I saw it there.
Then, the wonderful team at Hachette arrived and we began to set up, laying the books out on the tables and organising some of the seating. My brother was rather late arriving with the food and wine, so I spent quite a while walking around in a bit of a panic. Thankfully, he did eventually get there and we managed to bring it all in and get the party started just in time!
It was amazing to have such a fantastic turn out. There were so many familiar faces, both old and new, including my team at Hachette, my friends from school and university, old colleagues, fellow writers and of course my extended family. I felt so grateful that they had come to celebrate with me and I somehow managed to speak to everyone before it was time for the speeches.
Oh boy, the speech. Naomi – my editor – gave me a fabulous introduction that genuinely had me blushing. It was warm and heartfelt and I appreciated every word of it. Then it was my turn.
It came as a complete surprise to me when my voice started wavering and I felt myself begin to tear up a little at the start. It really was such an important moment for me and I ended up a bit emotional, especially when thanking all the people that had helped me get there. Luckily, I managed to force it down and finish the speech without anybody noticing.
I then did a quick reading. Despite having done three much longer readings to groups of sixty children, it was probably the most nerve-wracking of them all.
I relaxed after that and did a whole bunch of signings, giving me a chance to catch up with everyone I had missed. We sold out of books very quickly, but somehow ended up having the exact number of copies that were wanted. Perfect!
After that, I cut my amazing cake, which had been designed with a gorgeous salamander demon on the top! I loved it and it tasted amazing too. It was a wonderful surprise that the team at Hachette had brought for me.
Finally, it was time to just have fun and socialise, before heading to the bar to round off an amazing night. I can honestly say it was one of the best nights of my life and I will remember it fondly for years to come. I went home with a grin on my face and a full heart after what can only be described as the perfect evening.
Taran’s speech is below.
First off, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has come to celebrate with me tonight. It’s great to see so many friendly faces together, both old and new. I also want to especially thank Rob, who has made the supreme effort to attend. Thank you Rob, it means a lot to me.
Today is the culmination of a lifelong dream of mine, one that began when I was nine years old. I remember attempting my first novel then, a story about a wizard warrior family who battled with an evil witch. I know my mum still thinks it’s publishable.
For me, writing was just that, a dream. For a long time I imagined authors as these literary geniuses, mythical creatures that you never get to see. It was only after I interned at a publisher and got to meet a few of them that I realised that they were just like me – people with a passion for reading and writing .
So, I started writing my dream book, the kind of book that combined everything I loved about fantasy into one novel. I attempted the National Novel Writing Month challenge, to write 50,000 words in one month.
I shared it online each day to and to my surprise the book started to go viral. After that it all went a bit crazy, but its safe to say that I have been on a high ever since.
There several people that I owe a debt of gratitude to and I want to thank them tonight.
First, my mother. You were always the one pushing me to write, encouraging me and sharing it with friends and family, even saving it from old computers to make sure it wasn’t lost. It was you who gave me the self-confidence I needed to put my work out there. I would not be standing here today without you.
I would also like to thank Alice, my girlfriend. I am a bit of a night-owl and I would often keep her up late, tapping away on my keyboard until three in the morning when the mood took me. Even then, she would read everything I wrote and edit it there and then, so that I could provide a better experience to my readers around the world. She had been a rock throughout all of this, helping me in my decisions and being my sounding board whenever I need it. Thank you, Alice.
It’s no wonder that this book is dedicated to both Alice and my mother.
I want to thank Katie and Riot Communications for their incredible work on The Novice’s publicity. She has done such an amazing job and I feel lucky to have had her on team summoner. Thank you so much Katie.
I want to thank Hodder Childrens, with Laure, Jen, Victoria, Jason and Paul just a few of the many people who have helped me get to this point. You have all done a stellar job and I really appreciate it, so thank you.
I am also immensely grateful to my agent, Juliet, as well as her assistant, Sarah. She has been my guiding light, helping me navigate the world of publishing and being massive advocate for me and my writing. Juliet has found a home for Summoner all over the world, and I am truly grateful for that. Thank you so much Juliet, you are incredible.
I also want to thank Naomi Greenwood, my editor. Having a good editor who gets you and your story is so important and boy did I luck out. Together we have polished The Novice into something I know we can truly be proud of. Naomi has gone above and beyond the call of duty, assuaging my fears and doubts as well as supporting me in everything from Marketing to PR.
I also need to thank Naomi for believing in me and my work. It’s easy to forget what a huge leap of faith it is to take on an author you know so little about, especially when they are a debut. I am so grateful for the opportunity and I hope I have done you proud. Thank you Naomi.
And that’s the end of my speech. Now I will do a short reading for you all from the book. Thanks for listening.