The next stop on the tour was Italy. I flew into Milan and a driver took me to Torino (Turin).
The first surprise at this cool hotel was being given a two-room, two-bathroom suite with a private balcony overlooking a courtyard. Nice!
It was cool and drizzly this year. At a memorable dinner with my acquiring editor I asked if that would keep people away from the Turin Book Festival. No, she said, that just inspires people to come spend time inside the convention hall to look at books and meet authors.
The festival was almost the size of BEA – it was huge. It’s well attended by people in the book industry but also readers and students. One of the first interviews I did was with this Italian blogger in this fun egg-shaped booth above. I had a brilliant interpreter with me the entire day — Sarah Cuminetti who you’ll see below. She made me sound good.
Here’s my first TV interview of the day. Sarah is on the left, whispering in my ear in English, so I’ll know what the question is being asked by the interviewer. Imagine how hard TV interviews are anyway and then double that.
I had an appearance scheduled at the festival. You never know exactly what these are going to be like. I’ve done plenty of panels at conferences, but this was my first solo venture at a big festival rather than a bookstore. I’m smiling in the photo above, before it begins, Sarah on the left and Caterina Ramonda, a very savvy moderator on the right – however, my heart was leaping in my chest. And this is why-
This is the size of the audience waiting to hear me. A better shot is below-
I made this small because of some students in the audience (privacy issue).
So this was very tricky, being asked a question in Italian by the moderator after I gave an introductory talk while listening to my interpreter whispering the English. All the while, I am thinking of the answer because I don’t want to make the audience wait any longer than they have to. Sarah would scribble some notes if my answer was long so she could remember, then she had to interpret the answer into Italian. She was incredibly smooth, never seemed rattled. We did the Q & A from the audience this way as well, and the students were great.
My publisher had said they don’t do signings the way we do at the US conferences, but after the talk, so many students gathered around to get their books signed that out of nowhere, some guys carried a table to the back of the room where we suddenly set up this signing area. The head of my publishing imprint – elegant in the way that Italian women seem to be born with – told me how pleased she was with my presentation. That was so important to me because I’m new at all this and I want to make my publishers happy.
I get to meet the head of my division (so charming and chic) and my wonderful editor (wearing glasses and jeans) – she is so funny and so much fun to be with. She showed me what Torino food is all about The best pasta and panna cotta I’ve ever had. Italy = great food and style.
My publisher’s booth at the festival. Here in the window display, Starters and Enders is between Kate Morton and Perks of Being a Wallflower! They also publish Stephen King and other great authors.
And then my second TV interview of the day (can you believe it?)
And finally, a radio interview with the hostess (in red). Again, only possible because of Sarah the interpreter. Also in the photo is my wonderful Italian publicist who works for my publisher. She and my fabulous Italian editor did an incredible job putting together everything, including some sublime Italian meals. This remarkable day ended with a great dinner with 20 plus people from my publisher, it was like something out of an Italian movie.
A wonderful day that at times felt dreamlike, but time to say arrivedercci because another country awaits.