Passport? Tick. Itinerary? Tick. Nerves? Tick! by Kate Furnivall
At last. It’s here. Blast-off time. Today The Betrayal and I set off on a book tour. Excitement chez Furnivall knows no bounds.
The house is echoing to the screech of suitcases being hauled out of the loft. Wardrobe doors slam as outfits are chosen and instantly rejected, and let’s not forget the constant ping of my iPad announcing yet another email about tickets and schedule arrangements. Who would have thought a book tour took so much precision planning? An Apollo mission to the moon has nothing on this, I can tell you.
So where am I off to? I’ll give you a hint. It’s not Basildon or Slough, thrilling though those places may be. Think further away than that. Think of a funny accent. No, no, it’s not beautiful Edinburgh, nor rollicking Dublin. Think sun. Think vast blue skies that swallow you whole. Think wine and rugby and kraals. An over-exuberant national flag. Got it yet? Another hint. The stomping ground of Nelson Mandela and that famous runner who shot his girlfriend in the bathroom. Yes, that’s it. South Africa.
The Betrayal and I have been invited on a ten day tour of Johannesburg and Cape Town/Franschhoek. Honestly. It’s true. I KNOW. Fabulous, isn’t it? A huge honour and a wonderful opportunity to see a stand-out beautiful country that I’ve always wanted to visit and learn more about. My South African readers have always been warm and supportive and I can’t wait to meet them, as well as a whole bunch of hugely talented South African writers and poets. I am already reading and LOVING the works of Maya Fowler and Bianco Marais who will be sharing a panel with me at the Franschhoek Literary Festival.
Franschhoek Literary Festival is South Africa’s biggest get-together of writers and readers. There will be more than 123 events, featuring over 200 writers. And it all takes place in one of the prettiest, winiest, foodiest spots in the country, up in the hills behind stunning not-to-be-missed Cape Town. What more can a writer ask for?
But first I will be spending a week in Johannesburg which will include the Kingsmead Book Fair, numerous book signings and talks, as well as tv/radio interviews. Live TV interviews. It’s that little word ‘live’ that gets the pulse rate up and the palms sweaty. Within hours of arrival I will also be filming a podcast and I am already packing matchsticks to keep my eyes open because my (11 hour) flight is overnight. Oh yeah, like I’m going to sleep on it. Fat chance. But who cares? This is a brilliant one-off experience of a lifetime and I intend to grab every second of it with both hands.
But it’s not all wine and chats, parties and hoopla. Oh no. Occasionally I have to put down my wine glass and do some ‘work’. The awesome Jennifer Ball of Jonathan Ball Publishers in SA has organised a full-on schedule of events that means my feet will hardly touch the ground but each one sounds utterly enticing. Panels with other writers. Talks to book clubs. Magazine interviews. Gourmet festival dinners and parties. Oh my, it’s a tough life. Plus lunch and tea with groups of readers who have won me as a prize in a publisher competition! That will be a riot, I know now. And then there’s an event where I discuss the books that have been important to me during my life. I liked thinking about that one. And ….
…. I will be for much of the time in the mega-delightful company of Kate Mosse. No, not the model. Keep up. The writer. Of Labyrinth fame. So there. Icing on top of icing!
Now it’s time to go through my check list yet again with my red pen. (Me obsessive? Never!) Passport? Tick. Rands? Tick. Tickets? Tick. Itinerary? Tick. Gin? Tick. Vocalzone lozenges? Tick. Informative book on South Africa? Tick. Urge to sing and dance on tables after two glasses? Tick. Magic wrinkle removing elixir? Oops, mislaid that one. Nerves? Tick. Ego? Er … tick … I think.
Huge gratitude to Jo Dickinson and Gemma Conley-Smith and Simon & Schuster UK for giving me this amazing opportunity to take The Betrayal south of the equator? A massive RED TICK. Thanks to you all.
I’ll let you know the wicked details of what I get up to in South Africa – when I return. IF I return …..