December 3rd, 2015
I’ve been receiving lots of requests for signed and personalized books, and I’m glad to announce that they are available once more, thanks to the lovely people at Main Point Books in Bryn Mawr, PA!
For a signed copy of The Song of Achilles, use this link to order, and in the “comment” box note that you would like the copy signed, and what inscription (if any) you’d like. Then I’ll come in and sign/personalize, and Main Point will drop it in the mail wherever you’d like.
If it’s a more complicated order, please also feel free to contact Main Point directly, they are very responsive. Their number is: (610) 525-1480, or send an email to email@example.com.
I am wishing you all a very happy holiday season!
October 12th, 2015
I’ve finally finished relocating from Cambridge back to the Philadelphia-area. It was very sad to leave behind the fabulous Independent bookstores of Cambridge, especially Porter Square books, which for the past several years has been my bookstore home-away-from-home. If you’re ever in the Cambridge area, you should definitely drop by and say hello! But I’m excited to develop new relationships with the Indie bookstores around Philadelphia, including the very lovely people at Main Point Books in Bryn Mawr and Headhouse Books in the city.
Speaking of which, Main Point Books has very kindly invited me to join their Book Club discussion of The Song of Achilles this Wednesday, October 14th, at 7PM. I’ll be there to answer questions, speak with readers and sign books. I’m looking forward to it! Main Point Books and I are also going to set up a continuation of my arrangement with Porter Square Books–so if you’re interested in getting a copy of The Song of Achilles personalized by me, please get in touch with them. As we firm things up, I’ll post here with more details and easy links.
Another bit of exciting news: the Bailey’s Prize (formerly the Orange Prize) is hosting a celebration of their last ten years, called Best of the Best, and I’m thrilled that The Song of Achilles is a part of that. I’m so grateful to the Orange Prize for the opportunities they’ve opened for me personally, but more significantly, I’m grateful for the work they do to bring attention to women writers across the world. In fact, I wrote an essay about it.
Finally, I couldn’t close without mentioning that my fabulous US editor for The Song of Achilles, Lee Boudreaux, just got profiled in The Bookseller! I was fortunate enough to get to be one of the authors raving about her.
I hope that the fall season is treating everyone very well, and best wishes for all the days ahead.
April 9th, 2013
As a child, there were two places I always felt at home, the library and the bookstore. The hours I spent in them were unreservedly joyous; for me, there was no greater treat than being surrounded by stories. As an adult, the same love remains. I can’t pass a good-looking bookstore without going in and, as the lovely librarians at my local branch can testify, I’m there at least once a week and usually more. So I was especially excited to learn that The Song of Achilles was recently shortlisted for two awards, one associated with libraries in the US and one with independent bookstores in the UK.
Every year, the Massachusetts Center for the Book and the Massachusetts Library Association team up to nominate books for The Massachusetts Book Awards. The books all share either a Massachusetts subject, or an author who hails from Massachusetts, or both. I’m thrilled to announce that The Song of Achilles was shortlisted for the Fiction category! I was especially pleased to be there beside wonderful authors like Max Gladstone whose book Three Parts Dead I have raved about in previous posts.
I’m equally thrilled to announce that The Song of Achilles has been shortlisted for the Independent Bookseller Award in the UK, with an absolutely blow-your-mind list that includes some of my favorite books of the last year: Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki and Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo. I am honored to be in such company!
I am so moved to have been included on these shortlists and so grateful to all the librarians and booksellers who have encouraged me, not only as a reader, but also as a writer. In the past year and a half I’ve had the good fortune to visit so many outstanding independent bookstores and libraries, and in every case what makes them so outstanding is the people: the passionate and enthusiastic sellers and librarians whose tireless advocacy makes the world of books go round. I’m so grateful for all the support they’ve given my work and very glad for this opportunity to say: thank you for everything.
Back in December, some lovely readers had gotten in touch wondering about getting signed copies of The Song of Achilles for holiday gifts. I spoke to the wonderful people at Porter Square Books, my local indie, worked out a plan for making it happen and posted the news on my website. What I didn’t expect was the astonishing and moving number of responses that we got, and I wanted to offer this late but very heartfelt thank you. It means so much to me that my book was something people wanted to give to their loved ones as a gift, and stopping by Porter Square to inscribe the books was one of the treats of my holiday season.
Since then, readers have been in touch asking if they can still order signed copies and, after discussing with Porter Square, we’ve decided to make the offer permanent. So it’s now official! Signed, personalized copies of The Song of Achilles are available year-round, and in ordering them you’re also supporting a terrific indie bookseller. Here’s how you get one: 1) Follow this link*. 2) In the “order comment” section of the order form, please say that you’d like it signed by me, and include the name of the recipient and any personal message you’d like me to add. And yes, ordering one for yourself is okay!
I feel so grateful to have such wonderful and supportive readers. Thank you!
UPDATE, August 2014: Porter Square Books now ships internationally!
*UPDATE, August, 2016: I’ve left the Boston area, so the link above has been changed to the current lovely indie bookstore that’s co-ordinating this, Main Point Books in Wayne, PA.
Sunday, September 2nd, 2012
As I prepare to head off on book tour tomorrow, I can’t help but remember where I was a year ago at this time. My book—the one I had spent a third of my life working on—was a week from coming out. I was a worried, hand-wringing mess. Would anyone read it? Would bookstores carry it? Would I be able to resist thanking each person who bought it as if she had given me her kidney?
The answer to the first two turned out, thankfully, to be yes. The third remains a struggle.
I was also more than a little nervous about the book tour itself. I had read a lot of author horror stories about missed flights, impossible-to-find venues, non-existent or hostile audiences. I worried that I would fight my way through the Atlanta airport, only to arrive at an event so rattled I would be incoherent. But I was fortunate that accompanying me was my valiant fiance: map-reader extraordinaire, finder of late night snacks, checker of teeth for spinach, spirit lifter. So when those inevitable moments of travel panic arose (thanks again for canceling that critical flight, Delta!), they were much less horrible because I wasn’t facing them alone. If I have one piece of advice to new writers about book tour, it’s this: bring Nathaniel.
Like many writers, I have a streak of perfectionism that extends far beyond the page, and I spent the weeks before the tour trying to figure out the “right” way to do everything. Looming largest was my fear that I didn’t know the correct way to sign books. I obsessed over possibilities: should I use the inside board? The title page? Should I write the date or just a note? A friend commented, “I think you can just do it however you want.” But that, of course, wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I wanted the official memo from the Writer’s Association of the Universe on the correct procedure, so that there would be no chance of me messing it up. I was hurled into a panic at a terrific Jim Shepard reading when he wrote a charming note on the title page, then CROSSED OUT his printed name, and signed beneath it. Was that what real writers did? Would I be unmasked as an imposter if I didn’t do it? Nat reminded me that Ann Patchett hadn’t crossed out her name. My friend repeated herself: “I really think it’s up to the writer.” Which I suppose was the root of the problem. I’d written my book, but still didn’t feel like a writer.
Insecurities and airplanes aside, once I was on the road, I discovered that I really enjoyed book touring. I was getting to visit some of the best bookstores in the world, talk about stories I loved and meet fellow book-lovers–and I do mean lovers. After the first two events, I began carrying a notebook with me at all times to jot down all the passionate recommendations I was receiving. I was anxious before each event, but my years of teaching turned out to be terrific preparation. Once I began talking about the myths, I forgot my nerves and just enjoyed myself. And, as it had been in the classroom, the best part was always the audience’s questions. One of my favorite tour moments was an orthopedic surgeon who wondered if the Achilles’ heel legend had come from the fact that foot wounds are quite dangerous, because they are particularly susceptible to infection and gangrene. Who knew?
Inevitably, there were a few disasters. I remember a particular bookstore where I was booked only for a signing, not a reading. They led me to a table by the entrance where they had a beautiful display of my book all set up. My job, they said, was to convince everyone who came into the door to buy my book. “One author sold almost three hundred!” the bookseller added cheerily. The next hour was one of the worst in recent memory. I hate bothering people generally–bothering them to buy my book was actually a living nightmare. Worst of all was seeing the suspicion on people’s faces when I tried to say hello: she just wants something from us! Three hundred? Who was this god-like author? Lesson learned: don’t ever take a job as a newsie. The silver lining was a memorable a book-spree in that otherwise terrific store.
Which brings me to a word about brick-and-mortar bookstores. I have always been a lover of them, but this tour made me a fanatical convert. I have never seen such passion for books, such enthusiasm to connect readers and authors, and such thoughtfulness. One of these days I plan to write an essay singing the praises of all the best stores I have visited, from the incredible Main Street Trading Company in the Scottish Borders, to the fabulous Porter Square Books in my own backyard.
Overwhelmingly, my experience of book tour was one of gratitude–for the readers who came to my events, for the bookstores that promoted them, for the publisher that sent me on the road. Every time I stood in front of an audience, I was intensely aware of what a privilege it was to be there. All of which is to say: thank you. I am very much looking forward to the upcoming events!
Tuesday, January 10th
I am thrilled to announce that the independent bookseller collective IndieBound has chosen The Song of Achilles for one of its March Indie Next picks! This is a huge honor for me, as I have been spent many, many happy hours in independent bookstores in my life, and found several of my favorite books through bookseller recommendations. I feel humbled and gratified knowing that these passionate book-lovers enjoyed my novel, and I am very much looking forward to visiting some of their stores in March and April.
Click here to get The Song of Achilles from IndieBound!