FROM IRISH LOCKDOWN TO TRANSATLANTIC LAUNCH PARTY
Yesterday was The Transatlantic Book Club's US and Canadian publication day, the launch of the fourth Finfarran novel published there by HarperPerennial.
Normally I'd have been dressing up and setting off for a celebratory party with hugs and kisses and glasses of wine and much posing for photographs and signing of readers' copies. But this is 2020 and I'm in Ireland, where right now we're all living in lockdown, unable even to visit family members and confined to a radius of 5 measly kilometers from our homes. I'm also at the very end of the Dingle Peninsula, so - while a 5 kilometer radius offers some of Ireland's most glorious mountains and long, deserted beaches - it's not exactly thronging with cheering Finfarran fans. So I'd resigned myself to a phone conversation or two, emails from my agents and publisher and a bit of tweeting. Which would have been fine. But instead - because I have the best and kindest readers in the world - I had a brilliant celebratory event that kept me up until past two in the morning and from which I'm still recovering as I type this.
The Transatlantic Book Club is about Cassie, a girl from Canada, who visits her recently widowed Irish granny and, to cheer her up, persuades the local librarian to start an online book club. The club links my fictional rural community in Ireland with an equally fictional one in upstate New York, where Cassie's gran spent a summer when she was young. And last night, to my delight, I clicked on a link in an email and took part in a real transatlantic book club discussion which transformed itself into one of the most enjoyable launch parties I've ever had.
There we were, me and the member of the KCBookClub, linking Kansas to the end of the Dingle Peninsula. They were all wearing hats as a hat-tip to the book's charming cover (see what they did there?). We made friends, talked Finfarran, shared this strange year's stories of isolation, courage, hope and humanity. It was past midnight by my time and my broadband connection was dodgy due to the wild Atlantic gale that was blowing outside. But I could have stayed up forever. The broadband held, I had the fire lit and it felt as if I was welcoming every one of them into my home here in Ireland, with the added bonus of being able to join them in theirs.
There was wine, tea, and egg nog with Irish whiskey. The was so much warmth and humour and such a sense of celebration ...
... and I realised that, on both sides of the Atlantic, people are finding that reading books and keeping in touch on the internet are wonderful ways of helping each other to get through this weird time.