A book publisher told me once that book launches were about sales. Alan Sheardown, who hosted my launch for Whisky Charlie Foxtrot at his beautifully curated bookshop Crow Books in East Vic Park, believed book launches were about celebrating. Of course, you want your launch guests to buy your book but more than that, you want them to share your excitement at having your book out in the world at last. Because it is no mean feat to get a book out in the world, especially these days.
For most writers, a book launch is the culmination of many years work. Some days, weeks or even months might have been uphill all the way. They may have collected a string of rejections along the road to publication. But here at last is the book! No longer a file on their computer but an actual object, made out of paper with words printed on it, for others to touch and maybe even read! Isn’t that worth celebrating?
Because The Ark is not an ordinary book, it demanded more than an ordinary launch. I wanted my guests to have a taste of what it might feel like to be locked inside a bunker, cut off from the outside world, forced to learn the rules of a new world, like the characters in my novel.
My guests arrived at the loading bay of the old Myer building in Fremantle, Western Australia where there were met by guards who demanded identification and asked them to sign the following disclaimer:
Entry to THE NATIONAL ARBOREAL PROTECTION FACILITY is an extreme test of a person’s physical and mental limits and carries with it the potential for death, serious injury and property loss. I hereby assume all of the risks of attending.
Men and women were separated and forced to line up in chained-off areas, before being herded in groups through a dark corridor to the lift. They emerged into darkness, where a guard led them by torchlight to the main launch space.
There they were greeted by Aidan, Project Manager of The Ark (played by actor Jacob Lehrer) who welcomed them to The Ark, and assured them that they were at last safe from the Chaos of the world outside, as upon their entry, a time-delay lock had been activated, sealing them inside for sixty days. Some of the guests were less than happy about this!
The book was officially launched with a beautiful speech from Radio National’s Kirsti Melville, after which I thanked all the talented people who made this book possible, and then they were FINALLY allowed a glass of champagne.
I didn’t want to be corralled at a desk, feeling like I was missing the party so I roamed and signed books, with my trusty purple Uniball. I had the most wonderful time!