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Sunday, October 23, 2011

John Flanagan Book Launch

I got an email from Dot Tonkin at Random House, in my capacity as a librarian rather than as a Random House writer, letting me know they were doing a launch at the State Library for a new series by John Flanagan, of Ranger's Apprentice fame. The new series, Brotherband, is set in the same universe, but in the country of Skandia, more-or-less Scandinavia. This universe is more or less mediaeval Europe with extras added, such as the fact that there's coffee and turkey and showers in the castle (cold ones, but it's implied there may be warm ones). Well, I couldn't complain; I did the same thing in my own novel. Not with the coffee and other anachronisms, but with imported gods and a religion that was cobbled together. Like John Flanagan, I said, "It's my universe and I can have what I want in it, so there!"

Anyway, as our students enjoy the Ranger's Apprentice series, I let them know about the launch and I decided to go myself. I confess I hadn't read the series - there's so much to read, especially with review books, that I just hadn't got around to it. So I took home the first novel in the series, The Ruins of Gorlan, which I found very readable and finished between yesterday morning and today (it wouldn't have taken me that long, but I spent most of yesterday with family and at the theatre).

I arrived about 1.45 p.m., said hi to the State Library staff and bought a copy of the new novel from the Reading's booksellers in the foyer. There were a lot of children there and they thoroughly enjoyed his entertaining style, as he told them about his writing and how he sold his first book after a lot of rejections and gleefully imagined what had happened at those publishing companies that had rejected J.K. Rowling after she became a hit. He described his way of careful planning before beginning any book (and good luck to him, but if I waited till the whole thing was planned out I'd never write anything. I did do some basic planning for Wolfborn, but never more than a chapter ahead. Each to their own).

The children asked a lot of questions. I'd have liked to know how he does his research, but it seemed only courteous to let the kids ask all the questions. One little boy in my row put up his hand several times and didn't get the mike, so I can only hope he had the chance to ask in the autograph queue.

I joined the line afterwards, with my copy of Brotherband #1 and the school's copy of Ruins of Gorlan and had a chat with a Year 12 girl and her Mum. Dot introduced me to him as a Random House writer and let me have some bookmarks to take back to the library. I told her how much our students had enjoyed Marianne De Pierres' visit and that it was in the school magazine and she said she'd be in touch about some possible more visits next year.

Just before I left, I had a chat with Paula Kelly, the State Library head honcho, who reminded me that Booktalkers in on Tuesday night. I said I'd be there.

I'm sixty pages into the new book, very readable so far, and will be reviewing it soonish; Dot said she'd send me a review copy so that I can have a copy for the library. Young Ali, the current reader of this universe, will be pleased.

Stand by.

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