I admit to raising my macaroni cheese when all the others raised perfectly civilised glasses of some kind of drink. We were at the launch of Jonathan Stroud’s new YA novel, The Outlaws Scarlett & Browne. It was on Zoom, as so many other things have been. This is both good and bad. You get to sit in comfort, you can eat macaroni cheese, and you can ‘meet’ the publicist’s son sitting on her lap. It’s nice and cosy. But the other kind of launch would have been nice too, and might have spared us the frequent pling-plongs when people rang the doorbell (although I gather this could have been turned off).
There were some spoilers, it has to be admitted. But as Daughter pointed out, most of the attendees had probably already read the book. In fact, the large number of people present were the cream of children’s books publishing. And me.
Jonathan’s editor Denise said many very kind words about both him and his book. His publicists spoke (he has at least three!) and told us about the expected proceedings, and played the book trailer. After which we got a reading. No we didn’t. First Jonathan said many kind words about Walker Books, which is where he once worked as an editor. Then he read from his book.
And after that his other editor, Grainne, took over and chatted about his writing and how he came up with the idea. It was meant to be a sort of Huck Finn/Tom Sawyer on the Thames. The main character was a middle aged man. When that didn’t work, he became a teenage girl instead, which is clearly what we needed. In fact, what was so interesting to learn was that Jonathan started somewhere on a raft on the river, with the wrong characters, and how this all sorted itself out to become what it is now. Hardly surprising that the two editors had to pinch themselves because they got to work with Jonathan.
To finish there were questions from ‘us’ and after that there were more grateful, kind words from everyone to everyone else. And the good thing about Zoom is that it’s then fairly easy, not to mention swift, to pull the plug and silence any stragglers. But I’d like to think that a good launch was had by all.