Book Tour Highlights
From European castles to cocktails in New York’s Time Warner building, my books have taken me on glorious adventures. While some places took my breath away, the people I met filled my heart.
A long time fan of THE CASKETEERS on Netflix, I was thrilled when Francis and Kaiora Tipene launched CLEO AND ROB in Auckland, New Zealand. When Kaiora sang a heart-rending waiata, there wasn’t a dry eye in the bookshop. Exquisitely illustrated by Phoebe Morris, this children’s version of CLEO has received wonderful feedback from parents and teachers helping children encompass loss
Though more than 22 million people read my Huffington Post blog about Bono (the rescue cat I fostered in New York City), finding him a forever home wasn’t so easy. When Monique eventually met Bono, she knew they were twin souls. Her husband, Berry, was soon persuaded. Returning to New York two years later, I was thrilled to visit Bono with my US publisher, Michaela Hamilton. From being a homeless reject, Bono had morphed into the most pampered and adored cat in New York.
Flashback to when Lydia met Bono for the first time at Bideawee Animal Shelter.
Signing copies at Barnes and Noble, Fifth Avenue, New York.
The Australian Women’s Weekly hosted fantastic high teas celebrating Bono’s launch – with an adorable gift bag for every guest.
When CLEO was launched in Japan, Prof Manami Yasui invited me to visit the Tokohu region, where more than 15,000 people died in the tsunami. Grief was raw. We visited countless graves. I was deeply moved by people’s courage and determination to rebuild their lives.
The blue marker at Sendai airport was a grim reminder of the height and force of the tsunami.
This school was decimated. Staff and students fled to the roof in hope of rescue.
I was honoured to take part in symposia in Sendai, Tenri and Tokyo where experts, physicians and philosophers shared their wisdom about grief and death. It was a fascinating window into a rich and complex culture.
An unexpected and emotional reunion with media legend Ita Buttrose when we appeared together on Studio 10 in Sydney. Ita was one of the first people to believe in me as a writer. Decades ago, I sent her a copy of my first collection of columns DON’T LET ME PUT YOU OFF. I was expecting to be ignored, but a week later the phone rang. Ita ran my book in the Sunday Telegraph over eight weeks.
Jude McGee of Harper Collins Australia rescued the CLEO manuscript from a slush pile. She has since edited all my books. Jude totally gets me. She’s funny, clever and a talented writer in her own right. I adore her. Here we are launching BONO at Readings in Carlton, Melbourne.
Recording 13 hours of CLEO’s audio book took a week. In a tiny studio out near the airport, the young sound engineer was endlessly patient with my Kiwi vowels.
There’s always a moment of uncertainly until I sense warmth beaming back from the audience. TUMBLEDOWN MANOR received an enthusiastic welcome from the crowd at Paper Plus in Paraparaumu, New Zealand.
Jim Tucker changed my life when he offered me a job at the Auckland Star. He claims I was New Zealand’s first female editorial writer, but I was too busy raising kids and working to notice. Jim kindly launched BONO in my hometown, New Plymouth.
It’s heartening to encounter people who’ve read my books in another language and connected on a deep emotional level. This is largely thanks to the skills of translators. It was a thrill to meet Edy Tassi of Piemme publishers in Italy. A book takes roughly four months to translate. Having translated both Cleo and Cats and Daughters, Edy has spent nearly a year transforming my words into fluent Italian.
When I was invited to give a talk on Germany’s northernmost island, Sylt, my curiosity was piqued. Though the island’s a celebrity hot spot, Martina and I didn’t see anyone we recognised. We had a wonderful time eating and laughing too much, and I scored a good haircut.
My German language publisher, Martina Schmidt, and I became close friends. She was endlessly patient translating my talks into English.
Puchberg Castle, Upper Austria is magical. Three talented musicians interpreted the essence of my books through music composed by their leader, Will Lee Hackl. I gave readings while Martina translated. Sounds complicated, but it was a great occasion. The large audience responded with tumultuous applause.
I was humbled to meet and talk with readers in this exquisite concert hall, where Mozart had performed in Vienna.
Frankfurt Book Fair
I was invited to attend the world’s largest book fair when New Zealand was Guest of Honour. It was a great chance to catch up with old friends – and meet new ones.
Frankfurt Book Fair is the world’s largest. When New Zealand was Guest of Honour, it coincided with the publication of Jonah’s book in German, KATER MIT KARMA. And what is it with that banana cake? Had they heard of my show?
Polish people love reading so much, Warsaw Book Fair takes place in a soccer stadium. I had a wonderful week there meeting so many welcoming, creative Poles.
I was on top of the world (actually, the London rooftop of my UK publishers, Hodder and Stoughton) when CLEO hit the UK Sunday Times bestseller list six weeks in a row.
Helping Cats in Thailand.
When I gave a talk at a Soi Dog function in Melbourne enough money was raised to build a new unit for sick cats in Thailand. Soi Dog do great work rescuing stray cats and dogs over there. I was honoured when they chose to name the new cat isolation centre after me.
The Federation of Asian and Pacific Women’s Association (FAWA) has more than 10,000 members. It was a privilege to meet so many impressive women leaders when I was a keynote speaker at their Guam conference. They knew how to party, too. I learnt to dance Gangnam Style.