In which we attend the Song Rising Launch Party

Song Rising Launch

Group photo was shamelessly stolen from Bloomsbury. I managed to crouch without flashing anyone, which is a victory in and of itself. Well done, Elou – you almost look graceful. Almost. Careful, people might think you’re sophisticated if you keep this up.

 

Greetings and salutations. How are we? I’m grand, I hope you’re grand.

A few months ago, I was invited to Samantha Shannon’s launch party for The Song Rising (which I have reviewed here, you should buy it) as part of Bloomsbury’s advocate scheme, and on March 7th, I had the pleasure of actually attending! The party was hosted in Edinburgh, at a fab venue called The Caves, and I am now desperate to use it as a photo shoot location. Even the bathroom was fabulous. I’d never been to Edinburgh before so I was incredibly excited to be exploring somewhere new (unfortunately, I chose completely the wrong footwear and at the time of writing, March 8th, my ankle is dying). I have a mighty need to go there again.

IMG_4713Thanks must go to the wonderful Jen, who not only came with me but let me stay in her pad (which I am horrendously jealous of and want for myself) and sleep on her bed which may as well be a cloud (I also want that). She also put up with my whining about my feet, the woman is a wonder. Thank you to Bloomsbury for choosing Edinburgh, we couldn’t have met up without you!

Anyway, onwards. After a quick meal at Wetherspoons (good ol’ Spoons), we wandered the winding streets of Edinburgh until we reached The Caves. With just that short walk, I fell a little bit in love with the city, it is one of those cities which looks like something that some extremely talented fantasy author dreamed up like somewhere trapped between several different times and yet is quite happy with its predicament. Edinburgh has such character.

The venue suited the book so well, I fell in love with it. It was a pretty chill affair, which I really liked and I think everyone got the chance to chat with Samantha. They’d laid out temporary tattoos as you entered, encouraging everyone to join the revolution, which I did with vigour (a banner hung on the wall which echoed the sentiment in a gloriously authentic-looking way). The whole set-up was incredibly inspiring, so thank you to all at Bloomsbury who organised it – top shindig, very well done.

Being the little photo-monkey that I am, I obviously took my camera, so it is without further ado that I present the best selection of images I took during the night (the light was beautiful in person but harder to work with photographically, so I hope I did it justice – it doesn’t happen often but I adore the grain in these).

I hope you enjoyed this little look into the launch party, there will be more Bone Season related goodness from me soon. I am currently in the planning stages of another Bone Season inspired photo shoot – you’re going to love it.

If you’ve never read the series, I urge you to give it a go and let me know what you think!

Until next time, bloglings!

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In which we visit the House of MinaLima

img_3664Be still my beating heart. This weekend, myself and fellow graphic design enthusiast (and former production gremlin as we have been affectionately known), Becca, ventured into London on a mission for cake and beautiful graphic design. We succeeded on both counts.

I am going to start this by saying that if you love Harry Potter, go to the House of MinaLima. If you love graphic design, go to the House of MinaLima. If at all possible. (Though, it is supposed to be closing in early February but there has been a petition to keep it open permanently so we shall keep all of our fingers and toes and cross-able appendages crossed, arms, legs, everything.)

It really is a spectacular display.

img_3681

The exhibition is exceedingly popular (and for good reason), as we approached, me giddy with excitement and practically bouncing down the street, we saw the queue. It wriggled around a street corner, unfortunately blocking the entry way to a pub much to their chagrin though the MinaLima staff were trying their hardest to make sure visitors left a gap, and people were joining it at a pretty constant rate. If there’s anything we British are good at, it’s queuing so we dealt with it in a way expected from Millenials; we took selfies. Even the American and French tourists we saw seemed to be in good spirits despite the long wait to get in. We were dancing about in the queue for around forty minutes (all of which were incredibly chilly).

There’s something about the magic of Harry Potter that makes queuing that bit more exciting, and makes people more happy and willing to do it – so many queue for a few moments pretending to be running through a wall in King’s Cross station, for example. The mood in the queue (how many times can I type the word queue in this little section?) was for the most part jubilant. People were excited. It may have been freezing cold but there were giggles and exclamations of joy to be heard all around. Some people left, not interested enough to stick out the chill, but those who remained seemed to bubble with energy, getting closer and closer to boiling point as they neared the door.

Once inside we were instructed to start on the first floor but before we got there, I noticed my first little detail and I knew I was going to love everything. There was a door next to the stairs, and instead of simply reading ‘No Entry’ or ‘Staff Only’ this door said ‘No Entry. Trolls in the Dungeon!’

Perfect.

img_3701The House of MinaLima is covered in design. Covered. Even the stairs had Hogwarts letters pasted to them, and the walls newsprint. The folks at MinaLima have committed wholly to not just creating an exhibition but creating an experience and it’s pretty mind-blowing.

The first floor is reserved for items from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, including wanted posters and the delightfully styled advertisements seen throughout the film. Plus all of the New Salem Philanthropic Society paraphernalia. I want all of it. I am hoping that they will release a series of t-shirts with the designs on. That would make me incredibly happy, already owning one courtesy of LootCrate.

img_3704We had a little bit of a wait before we could ascend the winding staircase once again to reach the second floor but the waiting is more than worth it. I think the second floor was my favourite.   

I had heard, from the radios held by the staff members, the word Marauders several times while looking around the first floor. I had assumed it was just code for the visitors until I reached the second floor. The entire floor is made up of a section of the Marauder’s Map and it is incredible. I had imagined wonderful things but I had never imagined I would be walking on that map.

img_3685Along with the wonder of the map are labels from potions, labels from Dumbledore’s memories, the Whomping Willow as it appears on the map, Hogwarts letters hanging from the ceiling as if they’re falling and lots of other lovely papery coloured things. Muted colours. It was very calming.

Until you venture behind the door. Behind the door is the Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes section and it explodes with colour. Even the walls and floor are brightly patterned. I was squeaking with delight on a near permanent basis.

img_3683The third and last floor had two rooms, one larger with a fire place from which hundreds of letters cascaded, and the covers and designs of all of the books Harry and the gang use in their Hogwarts career.

I adored this part. I love books and I love book design and I love designing books so seeing the covers as I had never really seen them before was a wonderful experience. Not only that but enclosed in cases on the walls (which looked delightfully Victorian) were actual copies of the books as used in the films. Most were battered and worn as if they were old and it took all of my willpower not to beg the nearest staff member to let me hold one.

img_3682The second room has Harry’s Undesirable No.1 poster and the wanted posters of Bellatrix and Sirius, as well as many front pages of the Daily Prophet. For such a small room, it is quite imposing.

In terms of the building’s structure, the third floor was my favourite. It’s so old that the floor is warped into waves and it feels light a building right out of Diagon Alley. I can imagine the amount of careful thought that went into choosing just the right building. They got it spot on.

img_3686Even if I was absolutely terrified of walking back down the stairs.

I present this statement with the adjacent evidence: look at my face in this picture. This picture represents both my absolute terror at being stood on the stairs and having to then walk down them (stairs are a problem for me) but also my absolute wonder at all of the beautiful design and pretty much being inside the world of Harry Potter. I tried so hard in this photo. I don’t hate it (which is surprising considering it’s not one I took myself). I am getting better at liking photos. I am proud of myself.

img_3702Luckily for me, not many people were wanting to come down and no one was currently wanting to go up, so my descent was not traumatising (for the most part, I was incredibly nervous the whole way down). It was so worth the stairs. I was so nervous when I was in the queue, despite my excitement, I had read on the website about the uneven stairs and I had been thinking about it ever since. But I was determined not to let it stop me and I am so glad my determination won out.

img_3695The gift shop was last. There was a sale on. It would have been rude not to buy anything. Rude. I wanted to buy a print but couldn’t quite justify the spend right there and then and didn’t feel like I could make such an important decision about which one on the spot. I am not ruling out buying one online though. In fact, I probably will. Instead, I opted for the two sets of Hogwarts postcards (each with book covers and such inside) and an original MinaLima design on a t-shirt. A Parliament of Owls. I had to. I also intend to buy their Murder of Crows design, and am hoping for a Tiding of Magpies to be sold as apparel too. Not to mention their exquisitely produced editions of Peter PanThe Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast. I am a sucker for their design and I am not ashamed.

Much to my surprise Miraphora Mina was actually there. I was too chicken to say anything to her (I had no idea what to say) but it made me so happy to be in the same place as one of the creative minds behind all of that incredible work. From what I heard of someone else’s conversation with her (they were inquiring about work experience) she seemed very down to earth and willing to help budding designers. Excellent.

I hope they are able to keep it open, I would love to venture back there again and I would love more people to be able to see it. It’s incredible and it was an afternoon well spent.

Samantha Shannon and The Bone Season

Before I launch into my belated ‘Big London Book Fair Blog Fest’ (now that I am, for the most part, out of the Master’s Assignment Bubble of Doom), I thought I would write a little blog entry about Samantha Shannon and her debut novel The Bone Season (out 20 August 2013).

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon (Bloomsbury, 2013)Last week I had the pleasure of going to Samantha Shannon’s first ever bookshop event at Waterstones in Oxford, and the even greater pleasure of talking to her afterwards.

I found her first on Twitter, I can’t remember quite how but I do remember reading an article hailing her as the next J. K. Rowling so naturally I was intrigued. I found her blog, began reading and suddenly found myself getting very excited about The Bone Season. Before the event, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a proof copy of the novel – I devoured it quickly and when I was finished, I wanted more. I, for one, can’t wait until the hardback is released.

The event was relaxed, with a somewhat amusing introduction, which made me love Waterstones a little bit more than I already do. Samantha’s talk was given from a plush-looking chair to an eager audience which overflowed from the allocated seating with people dotted around the various tables on the shop floor. The talk took place almost a year exactly since she secured her book deal during last year’s London Book Fair and encompassed everything from her unsuccessful novel, Aurora, to her opinion on the New Adult genre.

The Bone Season, she said, was written across six months – a number which shocked, astounded and impressed me, how could she have enough time to have written the whole of the novel in six months? She led us through a whirlwind tour of the publishing process as it was for her; a collaborative experience, both enjoyable and challenging.

After a brief synopsis of the novel, she delved into her influences (Emily Dickinson, John Donne) and her view on the fantasy genre. A cross-genre opportunity allowing for experimentation perhaps more than any other genre. While marketed as an adult novel, she acknowledged that her novel could be classed as New Adult due to its 19 year-old protagonist, though the novel does not contain the sexual themes found in most New Adult titles. She talked of the potential of New Adult beyond the sexual themes, as a bridging genre.

Her talk ended on a note of encouragement to the budding writers of the audience, and to the readers. She confessed that it took writing a whole novel to realise that the voice she was using was not the one for her.

In the Q&A session that followed she was asked about her dream-cast, as her novel’s film rights have already been sold, a question she was asked recently by Andy Serkis, whose studio The Imaginarium Studios own the rights; about clairvoyance and how much of it she believed in; Paige, the novel’s protagonist, who she confesses to living vicariously through; how she plans her novels and her characters and how much of the series is written; Ireland; Oxford, which she beautifully called ‘a city of contradiction’ which draws fantasy authors towards it; the balance between university and authordom (a feat of time-management and non-procrastination though no English Literature student gets up early), and the supportiveness of her tutors.

Once the talk was finished I bounced my way across to introduce myself and there is one word that I feel best sums up my impression of Samantha: Lovely. She allowed me to quiz her on all the things I didn’t get to ask during the Q&A, including her involvement with the cover and covers from other territories, which was a lot more than I thought it would be. Bloomsbury, she said, have been very accommodating when it comes to getting the look of her book perfect both for them and for her. During London Book Fair she even got to put input in on the design for one of the publishers from another territory (though, I have forgotten which one). We even got some casual fangirling into our chat, always fabulous.

The event was wonderful, with friendly, smiley staff and a pleasant atmosphere. I can’t wait to see Samantha Shannon’s career progress and am eagerly looking forward to the release of the hardback (and the reviews that will follow!).