I was at work on a busy hospital ward last week when I checked my phone (on my break) and had the best freak out fangirl email from a friend and fellow book blogger which went something along the lines of “OMG VERONICA ROTH IS COMING TO LONDON NEXT WEEK – GET YOUR TICKETS QUICK.” Well, after I had finished fist pumping the air, and generally provoking concerned looks from colleagues, I immediately booked my ticket. It’s at this point that I want to thank Veronica for planning her visit during my week of annual leave because if I couldn’t have come, I would have cried. For real.
During the week, I noticed that Samantha Shannon (author of THE BONE SEASON) and Laure Eve (author of THE FEARSOME DREAMER) were also attending the event and after asking if they wouldn’t mind signing my books for me, they very kindly agreed. So basically, I met three authors for the price of one and had the best day ever but I’m skipping right to the end without explaining what happened next, so I shall go back a few steps.
Whenever I come to London, I ALWAYS visit the bookshops as we don’t have a Foyles or a massive Waterstones where I live. I managed to restrict myself to two books at Foyles (in case you’re wondering, I bought MORE THAN THIS by Patrick Ness as it was a signed, first edition and also FEARSOME DREAMER as I did not receive an ARC and I wanted a finished copy anyway for Laure to sign). A few days before the event, the venue was changed to The Prince Charles Theatre in Leicester Square as the demand for tickets had been so high. I had planned to go to Waterstones next and I knew it wasn’t far from the theatre but I decided to check where it was first. It was 4 30pm (and so I was two hours early) but a queue had already started to form. Panicking, I decided that I had to join the queue there and then and ended up talking to two lovely ladies called Alice and Daisy who kept me company for the next two hours.
Just as a totally random fact, one of the guys from Kingsland Road, the group that had just been ejected from The X Factor UK walked past us. Anyway, the queue grew and grew and I was very glad that I was near the front, and that it wasn’t raining and especially when they finally opened the doors as I was able to sit three rows from the stage (the first two were reserved for press). Unfortunately, I knew my friends were arriving late and had to sit at the back but I was in contact with them and arranged to meet them at the end.
So anyway, we heard from the publisher first and then Veronica entered the room to lots of claps and cheers. She’s very tall in person and has the straightest, whitest teeth I’ve ever seen! She’s also a very sweet person and funnier than I thought. She read an excerpt from ALLEGIANT from her mobile phone and then we had a Q&A session but I was too chicken to put my hand up.
After that, it was time for the biggest surprise of the night as Veronica introduced a special guest...
None other than SHAILENE WOODLEY
AKA the lead actress playing Tris in the Divergent movie.
The audience reaction was priceless!!! Girls were screaming and some were even crying! Me being me merely raised my eyebrows and said “Well, that’s a surprise!” They showed us the Divergent trailer in all it’s glory (please...like I haven’t watched that a million times already) and then Veronica did a little Q&A with Shailene. Shailene reminds me a little of a young Debra Winger (I think it’s the voice) and I suspect that it will only be the older readers of this blog who know who I’m talking about! Shailene only stayed for about five minutes or so and then she was out of the door being rushed to God knows where.
After that, the book signing began and we were reminded that there would be no photography with Veronica allowed (I’m not entirely sure it was due to time restraints but whatever) and that we were only allowed to get one book signed. Now, if I’m being completely honest, I spotted this in the email sent to us before the event and immediately disregarded it for the following reasons:
1. Veronica has written a TRILOGY. That’s three whole books and so how am I going to choose which one to get signed and why should I have to?
2. This is the first time Veronica has visited the UK and all her books have been published. Of course I’m going to take this opportunity to get ALL my books signed, I don’t know when I’m going to get the chance again.
3. I paid for my ticket, dragged all the books on the train and then halfway across London and I waited outside for two hours in the queue. Just try and stop me getting my books signed!
4. As I told Veronica at the time, I’m not very good at following the rules and it’s all her fault for writing a trilogy and btw – I’m DIVERGENT :P
So, I brought all of my books with me but as I got closer to the front of the signing line, I will admit that I was nervous about getting all the books out, especially as the publishers or officials were trying to keep the line moving by taking the ONE BOOK out of our hand and preparing it for Veronica. I’ve done signings before and so I already had my post it note with my name on it in the front of the books and my sharpie at the ready but Veronica already had special silver sharpies all organised. ANYWAY, I explained the situation and Veronica was more than happy to sign my books while I garbled on at her, knowing that I had less than 30 seconds to get out everything that I wanted to say and OMG she recognised me from Twitter as we’ve only been talking for the past 4 years!!! I only felt a smidgen of guilt for getting all my books signed and I saw some of the faces in the queue who were probably all “How come she is getting ALL her books signed?!” I want to be sorry but I’m really not. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt it’s that if you don’t ask, you don’t get and sometimes – you have to break the rules. Now I have an entire set of US hardbacks that have been signed to me by Veronica and I feel like it’s the best early Christmas present I could have received.
We were instructed to leave by the fire exit and told that we could not come back in. I knew that I was going to have a long wait outside in the dark and the cold because my friends were right at the back of the theatre. In the meantime, I had arranged to meet Samantha Shannon and Laure Eve outside so they could sign my books that I had also brought with me. They were lovely to talk to and I only wish that I’d had more time with them. I’m ecstatic that I now have a signed and personalised first edition hardback AND a signed ARC of THE BONE SEASON as well as a signed edition of THE FEARSOME DREAMER. I started reading THE BONE SEASON on the train down and it’s really bloody good, very detailed and so, so interesting so I highly recommend that one, especially if you’re interested in fantasy.
(I love how they look like devil women with glowing eyes lol)
When Samantha and Laure left, I suddenly realised in horror that I had totally forgotten to give Veronica the two big bars of Cadbury’s chocolate that I had bought for her. Whenever I go to any books signings, especially if the author is from the US, I ALWAYS bring them some Cadbury's chocolate because let’s face it – it’s some of the best chocolate in the entire world (possibly because I swear they put crack cocaine in it). So you already know I’m not good at rules by now and I ended up going back through the fire exit, back into the theatre. I explained my predicament to the officials and they let me give Veronica the chocolate. AND I STILL FORGOT TO TELL HER WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THE ENDING so I’m going to say it here in hopes that she may read it. You never know. I’m going to try and keep it vague for the people who haven’t read ALLEGIANT yet but just in case, I would probably skip to the next paragraph if that applies to you. Veronica? I dig the ending and I could see it coming because I know Tris and I knew she would do a Bruce Willis. It was the right ending.
When I came back through the fire escape, I asked if I could sit at the front of the theatre in the empty seats because I was waiting for my friends who were right at the back of the queue. They let me and I told them I would be good! HA! No, really. I was. I made conversation with some officials and I took a couple of photographs. I may have asked a friend if she would try and get another book signed for me but THAT’S ALL – it was the original UK paperback and so it had to be done and I thought I would really be pushing my luck if I did it myself. As it is, I came away with my UK hardback of ALLEGIANT because I just couldn’t go back up again. I may be brazen but even I have my limits. I tell you what kills me though, I won a US ARC of Divergent eons ago and it’s with a friend in America. Sadly, she couldn’t get it back to me in time otherwise I would have gotten that signed too. I might have to see what I can do as far as that’s concerned! It's a real shame that the publishers hadn't organised a blogger event with Veronica but I understand that it was all very short notice and they didn't have time to do so. Maybe next time?
Anyway, so after the event, me and my friends (fellow book bloggers) went to Pizza Hut to dissect the evening and generally talk about books. I got the train home and walked through the door at half past midnight. The day may have cost me in terms of time and train tickets, food etc but you know what? IT WAS TOTALLY WORTH IT and I’d do it all again. I had the best day ever and I want to thank everyone involved for helping it to be that way. Roll on 2014 for the movie!