Tonight I attended the book launch for author Francesca Suters‘ debut novel Returning hosted by Toronto Library. Returning is the story of twenty nine year old Rita who one days wakes up to find herself as her sixteen year old self again, but with all the life experience of being an adult. A story filled with what ifs and chances to undo past regret, and a a story that explores the mindset of being a teenager and an adult, and the struggles that come with both. As someone lovely stated this evening, it is a book that makes you wonder about second chances.
I had been looking forward to this night for awhile and I was eager to get a copy of Francesca’s book. Overall it was a very fun evening to attend, and there were quite a few people there who had all come to help celebrate Francesca’s book. Before the event had even “officially” started Francesca was already talking with people and signing books for them that they had purchased, and as a bonus people also got gorgeous bookmarks as well.
There was a wonderful atmosphere all evening as everyone chattered away, met new people, chatted to friends, and introduced friends to new people. We were even provided with a wonderful table filled with a range of nibblies for people to enjoy, supplied by friends and supporters who it seems had all brought a plate. I may have indulged in a lamington finger or three over the evening because…well it’s a lamington. It’s practically illegal to not have one when you see one, even if it is only a lamington finger.
In addition, a competition was being run alongside the launch with the winner receiving a hamper. The question to answer was along the lines of “What would you say to your sixteen year old self?” The answers were then places on the tree with the winner being chosen later in the evening. When I first read it I thought it was a rather dangerous question, it could go anywhere, but as the evening went on and you read what people had written down they were rather poetic. Even if you had no idea who had written what, somehow without knowing the face or the name or the history of the person who had written the message, you were given a brief insight into their life and who they were or who they had become. It was also a great chance for reflection; I know I had to think for about five minutes before I had something to write down. And while I initially thought it was a dangerous question, in that simple question you actually have to reflect and face either who you were when you were 16, or who you are presently. It’s quite profound really.
Away from the self reflection and identity crisis, when the launch officially began, we were given an introduction to the author of the night and shared a few thoughts about her book. When Francesca took to the podium it was really interesting to hear about the journey she had taken in writing and releasing Returning. I always love hearing about how authors became who they are, or how they wrote that book. I enjoy back story behind the book I have in my hand, and I like knowing more about new and favourite authors and more often than not gain inspiration for my own work and gain a validation that whatever it is I am doing in terms of my own writing.
Francesca explained that this had been a year of firsts for her, her first time finishing a manuscript (though not the first attempt at one), the first peer reviewed book (courtesy of the Old Ducks Book Club), the first time self publishing, and her first book launch. Something I found extremely interesting was that Francesca went straight to self publishing. Once she had finished the book she did not want to wait for someone to judge it and decide whether it was good or not, she just wanted to hold the book in her hands. I don’t think I had heard of this happening before, the self published authors I know tried the traditional route first, so it was inspiring to hear Francesca had the confidence to just jump straight in and do it herself.
After hearing about her desire to write a novel (on her bucket list before she knew what a bucket list was), and how, while she is not Rita, her choices had changed a lot since starting a family which started her thinking about second chances, we were given further insights into the process of self publishing.
Once the launch had officially concluded, the mingling began once more as people enjoyed the rest of the launch (and the rest of the nibblies) while Francesca signed more books before joining the crowd and chatted with attendees.
Overall a successful launch if I say so myself. I look forward to reading and reviewing Francesca’s book very soon and I wish her all the best with its success. A sequel was already announced this evening so there is more to look forward to in the future from Francesca and perhaps even Rita. I will say though, that while it was an excellent launch, sadly I did not win the hamper. Maybe next time.
(Images also on the Facebook page)