So I am finally back from my absolutely brilliant UK tour for SHIVER and so much happened that I don't think i can even begin to be coherent, much less figure out what is interesting to everyone and not just to me. So let's go for photo spam instead, shall we? The business part of the UK trip was a whirlwind of efficient public transport, cups of tea made almost right but not quite right, hoards of folks with cool accents, and posses of schoolchildren in smart jackets. I would show you amazing photos of my library visit in Birmingham, my school visit in Derby, my vampire/ werewolf panel with Justin Sompers in Cheltenham, and my book signing in London, but . . . I don't have any. My publicists were snapping away, as were fans, so they're out there somewhere, but they are not on my camera.
Okay, so first of all. Scholastic UK treated me like the Queen Mum. They sent me flowers in my hotel room! (Exhibit A) They took me to lovely restaurants! They ordered me private cars after we missed our connecting flight, had to stay a night in New Jersey, and got to the UK a day late! (don't ask. I am still annoyed).
Anyway, the tour bit was fantastic. I had a signing at the Golden Treasury in London, where I got to meet folks I knew from Facebook. Witness the fact that people can spell my name right in other countries too:
I also spent a few hours with four teens who'd won a competition with Bliss Magazine; first we had high tea at a posh hotel, then we headed to the Absolut Ice Bar to have (nonalcoholic) drinks served in glasses made of chunks of ice. Yes, that is ice on the walls. Yes, it was below freezing in there, yes, they gave us coats and gloves, and yes, this is a photo of the author of SHIVER actually shivering.
We also spent a bit of time on the Tube in London -- both for the signing and also for meeting up with my art friend Katherine Tyrrell (who has a massively well rated art blog called Making a Mark). We met in the National Portrait Gallery restaurant, which had great views of the city. Apparently before I got there Katherine had told them that I was a Very Famous Author Who Shouldn't Be Killed, as they were very concerned about my preservative allergy and making sure I didn't ingest anything that would make me twitch. After we had dinner with Katherine, we got to see Vivaldi's Four Seasons performed at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, which was pretty darn awesome, even if I was falling asleep from jet lag during "Summer."
Anyway. Tube. I saw this advert on the wall and was forced to pull out my camera and snag a photo, annoying many people in leggings (everyone regardless of leg shape wears leggings in London, it's slightly troubling). Because, hello, it says "Beck's" and has a wolf howling. Get it? GET IT?
So all of the touring stuff was brilliant -- I think my favorite moment was when one of the school kids raised their hand and said "I don't have a question. I just want to say your accent is really cool!"
You heard it here first.
So after four days of traveling back and forth by train to events while my husband roamed free in London, my intrepid lover secured a rental car and we headed up toward Whitby in Yorkshire. As you may recall from an earlier post, I'd had a dream about Whitby Abbey so I wanted to go there, and my next novel (not FOREVER) is set on cliffs, so I wanted to go cliff hunting too. So onward. It was four hours from Cheltenham to Whitby, which became six, because we were forced to stop at Cool Things.
At random old churches, like this one, Breedon on the Hill (nothing like a specific name to make things sound important)(for instance, I'm renaming myself Maggie Who Points At Things).
Witness the pretty stained glass in this church. Also, witness the tombs. They had two ordinary ones with sculptures of recumbent medieval folks laying on top of them, but then they had this one, which for some reason featured what was on its inside on its outside:
Am I the only one who thinks that from this angle, with the support beam in the middle, that this skeleton looks like the victim of a bad magician's saw trick?
After we left Important Church, we went onwards to Bolsover Castle, a 17th century castle built on the site of an older castle as a "pleasure palace." What this basically means is that I can only show you pics of the outside because many of the paintings on the inside and sculptures on the outside were X rated. Aw, late medieval porn, the history of chauvinism, we love thee.
For the record, if you want more pics, as always, check out my Flickr page.
Anyway, so we left the Castle of Horny Men behind, eating pretty much nothing but chocolate-covered digestives all day.
We headed through the Yorkshire Moors:
And finally to Whitby, where we met up with my best friend from college, singer/songwriter Erin Hill and her husband. We stayed in a hotel in Ruswarp, which none of us could pronounce, and the next day we headed down to Bempton Cliffs and Flamborough Head for a wee bit of research. As I mentioned before, my next book involves blood and beaches and kissing, and I needed to get a feel for the place. (more on this book in a later post, because I think I'll be NaNoing it)
That is me in the ridiculous hat. Well, one of the ridiculous hats.
Me looking very unsexy with my runny nose and four hours of sleep. Note the precipitous drop. After walking the tops of the cliffs, we drove to where we could get to where they started. And I have seen many awesome things in my life, but this was one of the most awesome.
Awesome, yes? And no, that is not me in that particular ridiculous hat. Anyway, so obviously I had to go down for a closer look, though Erin chickened out and waited on shore.
The black stuff you see is kelp (because this all goes underwater in the late afternoon) and kelp are slippery bastards. Anyway, I jumped, mostly successfully, from rock to rock, and pretended I was in the set of my beach/ blood/ kissing novel, while Lover followed me indulgently with the camera.
The sea caves were amazing -- some were huge, and some were tiny, just big enough to hide homicidal creatures in a Maggie-novel. In real life, they had weird red jelly things stuck to the wall instead. I poked one with a rock and it spit sea water at me. I think they are homicidal scallops, but I'm waiting for clarification.
So cliffs dispatched, we headed back to Whitby, intent on seeing the Abbey. Like I said, I had a dream about Whitby Abbey, before I knew it was Whitby Abbey, and once I found out where it was, I was intent on visiting it. Basically, five years ago, I dreamt about a ruined church at the top of a heckuva lot of stairs that was in England and a tourist attraction. When I woke up, I asked my UK friends about it and they said, "Oh, that's Whitby Abbey." I googled the abbey and sure enough, it was the same place I'd seen in my dream. So I felt like I had to go.
Only it was closed.
How, you ask, can you close a ruin? Well, it has a wall around it, and the visitor center closes the gate and says "closed at 4 p.m. and on Tuesdays and Wednesdays." If you are thinking, aren't those the only days that Maggie was in Whitby? you would be thinking correctly.
Maggie was not happy.
Neither was Lover. While we circled the wall, taking pictures from afar, he talked to some locals who informed him that people jumped the wall "all the time." So we decided to jump the wall, but we also decided to do this law-breaking in the morning, since in my dream, it had been morning (yes, it was all very scientific).
So we went back to the hotel and bided our time. Meanwhile, Erin's husband got an email from his church group reminding him of a gathering they were having later this month, and that they'd picked a theme -- Caedmon. Then they told the story of Caedmon, the father of sacred music, who had been called to music in . . . you ready? Whitby. He supposedly had a dream of music, and then he woke up and promptly went to the Abbess at the Abbey and sang it to her.
Random coincidence? MAKE OF IT WHAT YOU WILL.
As to us, we decided that it really meant we ought to jump the wall in the morning.
(these are the famous stairs. Please note Lover, looking particularly edible)
So we jumped the wall in the morning, rather uneventfully, and as soon as I had, I realized that the spot I'd seen in my dream was around the corner of the Abbey. So I made a beeline there and okay, I have to tell you, it was the weirdest feeling ever. Picture of me and the Boy in said spot:
Picture of cross dedicated to Caedmon:
There were images of Caedmon and harps everywhere, once we started looking for them. Which is just weird. Because y'all know what my instrument is, of course.
It was all very . . . dreamlike.
Anyway, dejavu experiences make you work up a real appetite, so we headed down into Whitby and got some breakfast at Marie Antionette Bakery (tagline, I kid thee not: "let them eat cake"). Mmmmmm. This photo is only to make you hungry.
And then back to London, and the last photo of the trip was taken in London Heathrow airport. The title at the top of this shelf, by the way, in the airport bookstore, was "Childrens' Bestsellers."
What a trip. I can't wait to go back AND DO IT AGAIN.