A couple of weeks ago I saw that Stephanie Garber was coming to Waterstones in Liverpool to talk about her amazingly successful debut novel, Caraval. Unfortunately it clashed with my university course, which meant I wouldn’t be able to go. The world was conspiring against me. Then, last week the group decided to have a Reading Week (I know, it’s an MA so everyone is alarmingly chill about the whole degree thing), and alas I was able to go. The only problem was, I hadn’t read the book and I didn’t have a copy.
I splashed out on the hardcopy on Amazon. It’s potentially the prettiest book I own, and I know that means nothing if a book isn’t good, but the publishers have just gone an extra mile with this book. You already feel yourself being pulled into a world of magic before you open the page.
Anyway, I booked my ticket and I was going solo. For me, that’s a big thing. There are a lot of times I haven’t done things I wanted to do because it meant doing them alone, but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity.
I was a little worried that I hadn’t read the book. I felt like people would instantly know before I got there and shun me, which is ridiculous. The book community in general are always super welcoming, and no one seemed to sense my unworthiness.
It was a really great talk. I didn’t feel excluded for not having read the book. James Rice, the author of Alice and they Fly, hosted the evening, and asked a lot of questions about the process of writing and how Caraval was written, rather than the intricacies of the plot. As an aspiring writer, it was comforting to hear that because a novel is a debut, it doesn’t mean it’s the first one a writer has finished. Caraval was Stephane Garber’s sixth novel and while it must have been frustrating to have five books go unpublished she perceviered. In the end, she said she was glad that the other novels hadn’t be picked up because they were gearing her up towards Caraval. In those books she learnt a lot about world-building and character development, not from the things that went well, but from the mistakes.
Meeting her at the end of the evening was a treat. She was so warm, and even though I blurted out that I hadn’t actually read the book, she was excited for me to read it and happy that I’d come out. I’m looking forward to more book events soon!