My 6 days in Auckland were jam-packed with visits, meetings and events. I visited 6 schools, delivered 8 talks, lunched with booksellers, attended the New Zealand Book Industry Awards and had a lovely catch up with some author friends.
I started at Hebron Christian College, sharing my story about how the Spark series came to be – from dream to publication. What a delightfully inquisitive group. It was particularly exciting to meet many young and eager writers. (I love how awkward I look in this photo.)
Then my utterly fearless Australian publicist zoomed us across the city in the rental car through the spectacular rain storm aided only by a simple NAVman to Baradine College where I met a group of English students in the library. Some of the senior students grilled me with excellent searching questions about theme and structure. I also had the opportunity to meet a lovely Twitter friend here, Sucheta. (Holy moly, check that smile: dial it down, Rach.)
No time for lunch because it was all GO GO GO as we pelted across Auckland to Macleans College for 2 afternoon sessions. Such a respectful and attentive audience and my voice was starting to get a bit husky and worn. Who knew that even I could get tired of the sound of my own voice after 4 hours of talking.
Knackered we dragged ourselves back to the hotel to pass out and recover for day 2 of school visits. Starting at the super fancy St Cuthberts College – what a visual feast that campus is – we had a cosy set up in the library and I chatted with some y9 & 10 students. They had a set up advertising my visit which made me feel pretty spesh.
We travelled, thankfully with better weather, into town to visit Auckland Girls’ Grammar which was one of my favourite stops on the trip. What a completely gorgeous school & group of girls. I meet with a big crowd in the library, answered a bunch of searching questions, signed some books and posed for photos with the girls. I adored the school leader who thanked me for my visit with a mighty, “All glory to God for your great writing, may he continue to bless your work and grant you success!” AMEN, SISTER! And they presented me with a bouquet of orchids which I wish I had taken a photo because they were beautiful.
We finished the school visits at Hobsonville Pointe Secondary School where I had my mind soundly blown by the most modern and philosophically evolved learning environment/style that I have ever encountered. A nice big group of students met me in the library. There was no teacher to be seen. Cue my surprise. When no teacher appeared, I said, shall we get started then? And the they all nodded and smiled. I shared my story with them and I was so impressed by how engaged and attentive they were. They asked heaps of questions at the end and we ran out of time. So lovely to see so many take books home after signatures and photos. (Here are some of the sweet stragglers hanging back at the end.)
After a wonderful busy day of talking we slipped back to the Time Out Bookshop for a intimate chat with a few of the YA book club regulars in their loft above the shop. Oh my gosh, what a treasure trove that store is. I’m only sorry I didn’t get to linger longer and snaffle about the shelves.
Over the next few days I had lunch meetings and enjoyed some of the Booksellers conference and awards evening. I especially enjoyed hanging out with Walker Books Australia sales managers Leonie & Simie, such smart, funny and kind women who love books with all their hearts. (There’s Simie hiding behind a stack of Spark. Heehee.)
One of the rare treats of my visit was the opportunity to catch up with some writer friends Elena De Roo, Melinda Szymanik and Sue Copsey. I was very pleased to get a couple of my books signed!
I came home from the tour having learned a great deal from a truly unique experience, exhausted, happy and profoundly grateful. What a privilege. My heartfelt thanks to my incredible publishers Walker Books Australia for making it all happen and my wonderful publicist Claire Smith for being an administrative genius and for taking such wonderful care of me.
Thanks to the schools, teachers, librarians and students who made room in their busy schedules for my visits, for hosting me so generously and for making me feel so welcome.
Special thanks to John Graham and Paper Plus for their great support and to Sherill Nolan for helping us so cheerfully at each event, providing books to purchase and vouchers for Shield.