Solitaire by Alice Oseman Launch Party at Waterstones, High Street, Birmingham

I’ve been attending events at Waterstones High Street for a while now. Book signings, fan parties and they even host a monthly book club now. The event I attended on 31st July has to have been one of my favourites. It was the launch party for Solitaire, the debut book by 19 year old author Alice Oseman. You might not have heard of her yet but you will. She’s amazing and going to be big!

The first time I heard about Alice was at the last fan party Waterstones held in June. Bex and Gem had been working hard behind the scenes, little did we know to secure an event with Alice. They certainly delivered, a launch party on the day of publication?! Huge!

At the fan party Bex read out an email from Alice where she talked a little about her book and how excited she was to launch it at Waterstones High Street. I knew from Alice’s quippy voice that Solitaire was going to be a book I’d enjoy! Bex and Gem told us about some other events being hosted in the coming months and I brought tickets for them but Alice’s was the one I was most excited about!

In the last few weeks since learning of Alice and her book I’ve followed her on Twitter and Tumblr where there have been more examples of Alice’s unique voice. She answers every question she gets asked and is so appreciative of and grateful for every comment about her book. Alice and I had a twitter conversion a few days ago about red headed female protagonists and boys in books and films! How many authors can you do that with? I hope she never changes.

My friends Lisa, Dani and I arrived at Waterstones about 7pm to get seated and settled before the event. I’ve been to Waterstones that many times now that Adam on the door downstairs said “You know where to go.” We said a quick hello to Bex then headed upstairs to the book garden where the first part of the night was due to take place.

As soon as we arrived on the top floor it was clear this event was a bit more special than previous ones. There were balloons and a Solitaire banner up. There was even an amazing cake designed like the cover of Alice’s book. Plus there was an abundance of Amy’s ever popular cake pops.

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Alice was already in attendance mulling around the book garden, taking pictures surrounded by her family and friends who’d all turned out to support her on her special night! The table full of copies of Solitaire was a wonderful sight and popular for taking pictures with.

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It was almost time for Alice to take the stage (really!) but first a lady from her publishers Harper Collins Children’s UK said a few words about Alice, her book and the amazing reaction it got in the office when it was first read.

Bex and Alice then came up on the stage to begin a Q&A session before which Alice read a passage from Solitaire. Some people in the room had managed to secure proof copies for review purposes so had already read the book and I guess some people like me had read the first seven chapters that had been available free in the run up to publication.

Alice choose to start reading from part way through chapter four where we get a truer sense of Michael’s quirkiness and more inner thoughts of the protagonist Tori! It’s a real treat to hear an author read their own words. I particularly loved Alice’s Michael “voice”. I can’t wait to read the rest of the book with a truer sense of the characters’ personalities. I can already tell from the first few chapters it’s going to be a great book!

The Q&A followed Alice’s reading. She said that she’s known for a while that she wanted to be an author so when she knew the book was finished, she believed it was good enough to be submitted to a publishers. She said she spent time researching what was involved in getting published beforehand. Bex asked if she had any advice for aspiring authors or for people that may have already written a novel. Alice said that you must submit it in order for it be considered. I guess it’s the old saying if you don’t ask you don’t get.

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Bex also asked Alice about her writing process. Did she plot chapter by chapter? Alice said said she had some idea of the plot before hand and that she’d write down things she thought Tori would say and think and that she referred to these when writing the actual book. When asked which character Alice felt she was most like she said Lucas as he’s shy and a little bit awkward, similar to how she was at school and that she’d like to think there’s a little of herself in all the characters and hopes that this makes them more real.

The tag line for the book is “This is not a love story.” Bex asked Alice if she did see a romantic future for Tori and any of the characters? Alice said she could imagine it but has no plans for a sequel as it’s a contemporary, coming-of-age novel and these tend to be standalone. Alice said her favourite relationship in the book was that between Tori and her younger brother Charlie.

Alice then took some questions from the audience. She also said during her talk that the inspiration for Solitaire came from wanting to write the kind of book she herself wanted to read. Alice finished by saying she’s in the very early stages of planning her second novel.

After Bex closed the Q&A and thanked everyone, Alice went down to the next level to begin meeting everyone and signing their books. I concluded after Alice’s talk that she’s just completely adorable. I can’t wait to see her writing career go from strength to strength.

Lisa, Dani and I were towards the back of the queue for the signing so we had plenty of time to sample the gorgeous cakes and treats on offer and chat about books with the people next to us in the queue.

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It was eventually our turn to go ahead and meet Alice. She had an array of coloured sharpie pens and asked us which colour we’d like our book signed with. I chose pink of course! I also gave Alice a card with a little note to congratulate her on her first (of many I have no doubt) published book. An amazing achievement! She was so lovely and recognised my twitter handle that I’d signed in the card.

Yet another fantastic bookish night made possible only by the fantastic hard work of the book sellers at Waterstones High Street. Thank you guys! 😊 Follow them on Twitter @YABirmingham and Alice too of course @AliceOseman.

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