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Launching Bellevue in Australia

I suppose I should count myself lucky that the supply chain crisis in the post-lockdown period did not send BELLEVUE to the bottom of the ocean, unlike a shipment of books last year that was lost at sea before reaching New York.

My only difficulties with BELLEVUE were delays. Seemingly endless delays after the stock left London. Delays that meant I had to change the launch dates for my book launches. Delays that had me fretting about whether the lovely writers – Nicole Alexander and Frank Bongiorno –who’d agreed to launch my latest book would still be free to do so.

My very busy UK publisher didn’t know where the books were. But the Australian distributor’s CEO, a very kind man, eventually gave me the tracking number for them about halfway through their sea voyage journey. Thus I was able to see that they were travelling from London through to Adelaide, and then from Adelaide up to Singapore, on to Malaysia, and then down to Brisbane and Sydney. A voyage that made me think of Mathew Flinders, and also of those tramp steamers you might read about in 19th century shipping accounts. BELLEVUE’s journey to Sydney took over four months. But at least the containers were not sent to the bottom of the sea.

However there were no books available in Australia or the US for the first launch, which was a virtual launch. We went ahead with it regardless. It was held on zoom in mid-March, and I was fortunate enough to have a historical novelist – the wonderful Nicole Alexander - launch BELLEVUE across many time zones. We had a stimulating conversation covering many issues.

The second launch was a live affair, held in Canberra at The Street on 27 April. By then there were actually books available in Australia. Paperback copies of books that had arrived at Canberra book shops only the week before. Professor Frank Bongiorno, writer and historian at the Australian National University, launched BELLEVUE with another conversation, moderated by former ABC journalist Alex Sloan. Some photographs are attached, by Dan Cusack Photography courtesy of The Street.

I would like to thank all who helped BELLEVUE along its way, from the publisher to the copy-editor, from the publicist to the reviewers, and finally to the distributors, the bookshops, the librarians and the readers. Each meeting of a book with a reader is unique, drawing as it does on richly heterogeneous backgrounds and experiences. May you make lots of new friends, BELLEVUE!


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