March 27, 2014

Bologna 2014

Filed under: Bologna — Rhiannon Lassiter @ 7:03 pm
Bologna entrance

Rhiannon at the entrance to the Bologna book fair 2014

In March 2014 an invincible team was formed. Four authors embarked on a journey to Italy and the Bologna children’s book fair. Lucy Coats, Frances Hardinge, Mary Hoffman and Rhiannon Lassiter teamed up to travel together and explore the fair, sharing news of the hot new titles, the road to Moomin Land, delicious meals and dazzling parties.

Fairy Tales for Writers

Fairy Tales for Writers

We arrived, as usual, on a flight crammed full of publishing people. Everyone had a book or an eReader – of course. What proof copies and MS drafts were they catching up on? We were recognised at once as authors because of the infamous Hardinge hat – spotted between the seat backs. At Bologna airport we claimed our luggage with Lucy’s awesome powers of luggage summoning and detached ourselves from the crowd swarming towards the taxi queue to take the much cheaper bus direct to our hotel. There we ran into fellow traveller Lawrence Schimel (one of the talented contributors from Lines in the Sand) who gave us our first (and best) fair freebie: copies of the newest title from A Midsummer Night’s Press: Fairy Tales for Writers.

At the hotel we checked in and then went at once for dinner at Trattoria Del Rosso – a restaurant Mary and I found years ago and is now our go to place for dinner at the fair. While we were there we picked up a brilliant guide to more restaurants complete with which ones had vegetarian options – perfect for our group since 3/4 of us are veggie. I always have the gnocchi. Delizioso!

The next morning we bought our bus tickets and headed on the bus to the fair. There was the obligatory pause on arrival for each writer/blogger to take the photo that proves we were there. Every author knows if you don’t take your own camera you can’t be sure you’ve got the shot so we rotated in turn to capture each other on our different devices. Then we headed in.

Bee ware!

Bee ware!

There’s always so much to see and do at Bologna. There are familiar faces and sudden surprises – like the moment that Frances and I met a live size bee. I’d told Frances of a previous fair’s encounter with a Moomin so was pleased to see the fair was well on form in this respect. Over the next few days we wandered the halls between our appointments and visited a Moomin exhibition, listened to talks in the Authors’ Cafe, and ran into people we recognised or who recognised us. David Fickling didn’t have a stand but he had an impressive new catalogue of titles which he talked us through at a coffee bar, we caught up with Gili Bar-Hillel just after having captured three seats at the bottom of an escalator and talked Diana Wynne Jones together, we saw Rebecca Nally for a chat about digital media and listened to Julia Eccleshire interviewing a digital media honcho in the Digital Cafe.

Barringtonstoke Party

Rhiannon Lassiter, Lucy Coats, Fiona Bradbury, Linda Newbery and Mary Hoffman

Later we caught up with the publishing students of Oxford Brookes University who got a run down of the fair from Mary and I met up with my publishing assistant Fiona and took her along to the Barrington Stoke party where we were welcomed with Prosecco and nibbles by our lovely hosts. Within instants authors were appearing on all sides and we took a picture with Linda Newbery while discussing Armadillo articles.

Another notable meetings was with Sarah Towle who was touting her “Time Traveler Tours & Tales” digital media initiative and with whom we spent a great time at a dinner full of more delicious vegetarian food. We paid another visit to the Digital Café to watch the Brookes student presentation and met Frances’ delightful editor who turned out to be another vegetarian and who joined us for dinner at a vegetarian meatball restaurant. I lunched with Fiona Kenshole formerly of Laika and now representing the Transatlantic Agency and a meeting with Bethany Buck of my US publishers where we talked about the eBook of VOID (the republished Hex trilogy bindup) – hopefully releasing soon.

The Boy with the Tiger's Heart

The Boy with the Tiger’s Heart

I’m probably forgetting other encounters and meetings, Bologna is always such a mad rush around the place. Lucy was worn out by her partying and had to be fed the breakfast of champions to revive her. She and Mary were writing up the fair for different publications as well as selling their own books. Unlike some previous fairs I was not a dedicated party crasher – besides I had a book to read: Slated by Teri Terry -catching up here on the first of a successful trilogy. Lucy and I also had a chat about the posthumous Diana Wynne Jones novel and whether one can see the join where her sister finished the text. We’d both bought it as eBook rather than physical copies for the first time ever because we weren’t quite sure we’d like it. I’m still not sure, my feelings about Diana’s later work are complex.

Everyone was talking about their book of the fair. My favourite book cover of the fair was The Boy with The Tiger’s Heart. I also noted some books to check out later: The Case of the Missing Moonstone: The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency by Jordan Stratford, Hacked by Tracy Alexander and bemoaned yet again that Licia Troisi’s books still don’t have english translations.

As always Bologna is over in a flash, and all the publishing people pack themselves back on to the plane home. I’d travel with Lucy every time since her luggage karma is awesome. Now to follow up on the meetings, contacts, plots and plans of the fair…

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