Holly Black / Sarah Rees Brennan In London
Holly Black’s new novel The Coldest Girl In Coldtown was given a launch event in Foyle’s Gallery area yesterday evening. Appearing with her was Sarah Rees Brennan. They are a formidable double act. Their UK tour continues in Leeds, Newcastle and Liverpool.
The event was some 10 minutes late starting. The empty chairs gave no hint of what was in store.
Soon after appearing, Holly Black had to perform some some kind of strange dress refastening for Brennan. After short readings from their current books (Brennan read an extract from a yet-to-be-published novel using her mobile phone) it was opened up to the assembled fan base for questions.
Brennan’s responses were entertainingly extrovert (at one point she ran across to the other side of the room and sat in a corner cowering) but it was Black (just as entertaining, although a little less wild!) who made the most noteworthy responses.
She described the impact her mother’s retelling of the Dracula story had on her as a young girl, remembering the way the phrase “in an unnatural manner” had discomforted her, so that she had to turn her Barbie dolls into protective vampires.
Black is fascinated by reality television (which she clearly watches a lot of) and particularly the way real life can sometime infiltrate and impinge on these shows.
Challenged about one of her ambiguous endings she said that she liked open endings, and also endings that come upon you suddenly so that you shut the book without the author dwelling overlong on the denouement.
She confessed to being a nervous speaker and someone racked by self-doubt. Although nerves were not evident on this occasion, I can see why Brennan is the perfect positive foil. Black tends to think people hate her rather than love her, and joked that she sometimes looks at her 5-month old baby and thinks, “You hate me don’t you.”
There was certainly a lot of love & devotion in the room for her writing. The queue for signing at the end was breathtaking. I seemed to be the odd person out in not having brought with me an armful of books to be signed. One person at the front of the queue had a whole suitcase full.
As I left, the queue had only inched forward a few places. People at the back were clearly going to have a long wait but that didn’t seem to concern them.