Friday, May 20, 2011

Still Alice, still going!

My books feel in some ways like my children (so far, I've given birth to 3 babies and 2 books).  Each one is unique, I love them all, and you'd better watch out if you have anything bad to say about any of them (well, I understand that not all reviewers and readers are going to love all of my books, but they're not allowed to say anything mean about my kids!).

And even though I have no favorites, there's a special place in my heart for the first one, both child and book.  I didn't know what the heck I was doing with either one (as a mother or an author), and I'm eternally grateful to both of them for bumping their way into this world and into my life, however ungraceful and ignorant I was in guiding them here.

This week I received phenomenal news about STILL ALICE, my firstborn book.  STILL ALICE won the Bexley 2011 Book of the Year award!  More than two years after its publication date, I couldn't be more proud!

Because this distinction is awarded from England, I thought I'd share with you some of the UK STILL ALICE covers (the different covers are like showing people pictures of your baby dressed in different outfits).

Here's the original UK cover concept that was rejected:

And the original UK paperback that was released in March 2009:

And the STILL ALICE paperback released in the UK a year later, the copy on the stands there now:

Cute, huh?

Thank you so much for choosing STILL ALICE as the 2011 Bexley Book of the Year.  I'm truly honored and thrilled! Thank you for reading STILL ALICE and for using the book as a vehicle to discuss Alzheimer's.  So many people are afraid to talk about Alzheimer's.  It's incredibly rewarding to know that readers are braving this scary topic and coming away with a better understanding of this disease, the people who live with it, and that we are more than what we can remember.

Again, so proud.  Now off to pay some attention to my third "baby,"  LOVE ANTHONY....

Monday, May 16, 2011

Australia Book Tour 2011: Most Memorable Moments

Meeting Christine and Paul Bryden in Brisbane (see previous post).

Fireworks over the river during dinner in Brisbane, arranged just for me by my publicist (not really, but we had front row seats and no knowledge that this would be happening--we were delighted!).

The complete, circular rainbow my husband and I saw at the top of the Harbor Bridge.  It was huge and breathtaking, and it encircled the Opera House. I don't have a photo for you because Bridge Climb Sydney doesn't allow anyone to carry cameras on the climb (my poor photographer husband was beside himself--missing the best photo opportunity of his life!).

The many times I was stumped by the accent.  And I grew up with a THICK Boston accent, so this surprises me a bit.  Let me give you an example:  At a book signing in Perth, a reader told me her name and handed me her copy of LEFT NEGLECTED.  I looked up at her, stumped.  She said her name again.  I asked her to repeat it.  I still couldn't make out what she was saying.  I finally asked her to spell it:  "Sue."  (She's from New Zealand.)

Koalas, caramel and real.

Fish and chips on Watson's Bay.

My beautiful publicist, Anabel.  Thank you for a most memorable and amazing tour and for taking such good care of us!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Christine Bryden

I had a book event in Sydney last week and was talking about STILL ALICE and the Dementia Advocacy & Support Network International (DASNI).  And because I was in Sydney, I mentioned Christine Bryden.  Christine was one of the founding members of DASNI and one of the amazingly generous people who shared with me what it's like to live with dementia while I was writing STILL ALICE.  Christine was diagnosed with Alzheimer's when she was 46 years old.  She wrote two incredible books, WHO WILL I BE WHEN I DIE?  and DANCING WITH DEMENTIA. She is also an Australian, which is what made me think of and mention her aloud to the audience.

I met Christine online through DASNI in 2004.  I think it was around 2006 when the group at DASNI received an email from her husband, Paul, saying that she wasn't doing so well and would be taking a step back from things.  She would no longer be active on DASNI email or chat.  I remember wondering and worrying about her many times since, but fearing the worst, I never had the courage to send a personal email to ask, "How are you doing?"

So during this book event in Sydney, I remained preoccupied with thoughts of Christine.  When I returned to my hotel room, I turned on my computer, logged on to my email, and there, in my inbox, was an email from CHRISTINE BRYDEN.


She was just back from a vacation and wanted to let me know that she'd read STILL ALICE.  She loved it and thanked me for thanking her in the acknowledgments.  And she ended the email with, "if you're ever in Brisbane, let us know!"

Again, !!!

I was dumbstruck and thrilled, staring at an email from Christine after at least five years of not receiving an email from Christine on the very day I mentioned her name aloud after five years of not saying her name aloud while I'm in Australia and heading to, of all places, Brisbane!

I love coincidences like this because I don't believe in coincidences.  I believe in magic and God and the spirituality of the Universe.

A few days later, I was in Brisbane, and Christine and her lovely husband, Paul, came to my book event at Dymock's.  We had coffee outside after the event, then walked along the river, then shared stories over beers.  I feel so grateful for having had the chance to meet her in person, to hug her and thank her again for all she's given to me, to get to know her and Paul better.  And I feel peace in my heart, knowing that she is doing well.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Confession and Apology

So first, the obvious.  I'm a terrible blogger.  I have no stamina.  I started out with the best of intentions, all gung-ho.  And then...I haven't been here since February.  Which brings me to the apology.  I'm so very sorry for bringing you here with the promise of a blog, and then leaving you here, awkwardly wondering if I'm ever coming back.  Actually, I can't imagine that anyone's still here, so maybe I'm apologizing to cyber air.  Is anybody still here?

In any case, I'm back!  Let me catch everyone (if anyone's reading) up on the last few months.  The US book tour was amazing.  It brought me to Toronto twice, NYC twice, Boston, New Hampshire, Washington, D.C., Connecticut, South Carolina, Colorado, Arizona, Georgia, and Florida.  I was up in the air A LOT this winter (and didn't see George Clooney once--so disappointed!).  It was a stormy winter with TONS of snow in New England, and I faced flight delays and event cancellations (RJ Julia was postponed due to snow twice!).  In fact, all of Boston Logan airport shut down once, and I had to regroup and take an Amtrak train. Dear Simon & Schuster, please consider releasing my next book in the spring.

Some highlights of the US tour:

Meeting Diane Rehm.

Meeting authors Jeannette Walls and Elena Gorokhova in Toronto.

Meeting authors Jamie Ford (and wife Leesha), Helen Simonson, Luis Alberto Urrea (and wife Cindy), Ann Hood, and Julia Glass at the Tucson Festival of Books.

Meeting my friend Kris just before giving the keynote at the Savannah Book Festival.  Kris and I have known each other for years, but only online and over the phone.  Kris has early onset Alzheimer's.  It was so moving for both of us to finally meet in person.

Seeing so many volunteers from NEHSA, including Tom Kersey, at Gibson's Bookstore in New Hampshire.  Remembering Tom presenting me with the signed snowboard and official NEHSA jacket still moves me to tears.

Getting to spend time with my Aunt Mary in South Carolina and my Aunt Anne in Florida.

Okay, now that you're caught up, I can start from where I am---SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA!  I'll be touring here (Sydney, Perth, and Brisbane) for the next ten days.  And since I left my darling husband home with three kids all winter for the US tour, it was only fair that I bring him to Australia, so he's here with me (a HUGE thank you to our parents and Sue for watching our children while we're on the other side of the world!).

I'm off to Circular Queue to write a little of LOVE ANTHONY by the Opera House before my book events today--sure to be a highlight of this tour! And I'll keep you posted on what happens while I'm down under--I promise!