Wednesday, 12 August 2015


I keep a travel journal when I go on trips, so the idea of re-writing all I wrote there here is not appealing. So, as usual, with pressing writing/book launch matters to deal with I will just do a brief photo-n-captions piece for my US book tour.

Firstly, book launch details. All welcome:

My husband came with me as driver (there was no way I was driving on the other side of the road and working for the week). After a knuckle-gripping start, he got into it. I pulled a muscle in my neck the day we left Ireland so was in constant pain for the first five days, which made things a bit stressful. Still, I managed to thoroughly enjoy my events and meeting the booksellers and audiences. The car remained a bit of a trauma - country roads were OK but those interstates, eek! Speeding rock-bedecked trucks, crazy weavy drivers, a dopey sat-nav...anyway, we survived!

I had various radio and TV interviews along the way but I'll link to them later, if I get the chance. Life is hectic and I am jet-lagged out the wazoo. Crazy broken sleep last night.

Our first stop was Mystic, Connecticut, a pretty maritime village on Mystic River. My event there was a meet-the-author lunch in Bank Square Books where we were warmly welcomed by events manager Elissa, owner Annie Philbrick and her dog, Charlie. We had a delicious, chatty lunch and the participants were enthused and friendly. Very enjoyable.

Bank Square Books window
Pre-lunch signing in Mystic
Author lunch in Bank Square Books, Mystic
While in Mystic we went to the aquarium and fell in love with this fella:

Beautiful beluga whale at Mystic

Ice-cream at the aquarium

The jellyfish were amazing

After two nights in Mystic, we headed north again to Boston, where I had a TV interview with the lovely Smoki Bacon and Dick Concannon at The Literati Scene. Then we went on to Cambridge, Massachusetts and my reading/event at Harvard Book Store.

Miss Emily on the counter at Harvard Book Store

Mr Harvard himself in the Yard
Hipster fun-poking in Cambridge
I was thrilled that Jennifer Tseng, author of Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness came to my reading
Cambridge is a gorgeous place: great book shops, great food (we had tdf bagels in Crema Café) and, my favourite shop, Anthropologie, where I had a happy browse before we headed west to Palmer, Mass. My friend Suzanne Strempek-Shea very kindly gave us the use of her house for five days.

Our house for five days in Palmer, Mass.
My first event in Western Mass was at Odyssey Booksop in South Hadley, run by the super-inviting Joan Grenier and her team. That was a great event at which some friends turned up: author of the other Miss Emily, Burleigh Mutén, as well as Stas and Cindy Skarzynski and their friend Michele, who have all been so supportive of me since my first research trip to Amherst.

Joan Grenier, owner of Odyssey Bookshop
Signing at Odyssey
Traditionally, visiting author's sign the bog wall at Odyssey Books.
I put an Emily quote, of course :)
I had a very welcome day off (well, I had one radio interview in the morning) on Thursday so we headed to Toys R Us in Springfield (Juno's dream destination) and then to the museum quadrangle, also in Springfield, which was very good. $46 for the three of us for a variety of museums. (Though we are so used to museums being free in Ireland that the entry fee feels wrong to us).

For all you 'Orange is the New Black' fans, it appears
Pennsatucky's ancestors were from Springfield
Communing with Dr Seuss, who was also from Springfield
Museum fun with Junior
The Lorax, Juno and Little Ponies
Friday saw the start of the Emily Dickinson International Society meeting (a mini-conference) and it was great to reconnect with people I met there last year: Jeff Morgan (ED Museum guide), and authors Susan Snively and Burleigh Mutén. There were wonderful plenaries, most especially from the sublime Marta Werner.

We also went to the Beneski Nat Hist Museum to view birds that Emily mentions in her poetry. And Finbar, Juno and I went to Emily's house and took the two-house tour - it was moving to be in that space with them, to see their reactions to Emily's stuff and world.

Juju, Emily and 'pink milk'
Items atop Emily's grave, West Cemetery
West Cemetery
Jonnie Guerra, who moderated Susan Snively's and my event
Juno with Emily's house behind
Susan and I signing after our event, which went off well
Susan reading from The Heart Has Many Doors, her wonderful novel about Emily's love affair with Judge Otis Lord

Kate Wellspring, curator at Beneski Museum shares Emily-related birds with the EDIS group
The meeting was brilliant and my event with Susan Snively on Saturday (which I was very nervous about) went well - a typically warm Western Mass reception to us and our fictions. (Though many people had traveled from other States, as well as France, Japan, the UK etc.)

There is a certain terror in standing in front of Dickinson scholars reading a fictionalised life of our beloved Emily. But they were welcoming, laughed at the right bits and asked good questions. Inevitably someone asked 'Why bother?' but I think I managed to explain my rationale and, anyway, I sort of agree with her. Why do we do these things, indeed?

While I was conferencing, Juno and Daddy went to swim in Puffer's Pond
Last pic: Huge thanks to Finbar for putting up with my neck-and nervousness-related whinging and for driving us all over.
There is a ton more I could say, but let it suffice to thank my PR team in Penguin, Emma and Meredith, for all their work, also my agent Gráinne, and all the lovely people who hosted readings, events, lunches and interviews along the way. It was a total blast to work with you all on this tour. I had a great time!

'The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.' Emily Dickinson


Miss_Úna said...

It all sounds pretty hectic & wonderful. Your poor neck!! I had an 'acute wry neck' occur on a trip to Oxford, NOT fun.
Pennsatucky hahahah!! Juno's hair looks like it is getting very long, she is such a beauty :)

Linnet In Oriel said...

Thanks for sharing that fantastic travelogue, a nice mixture of the professional and the personal. Those bookstore look so inviting! x

Nuala Ní Chonchúir said...

Thanks a million, Shauna. It was a great experience and the book shops over there are tdf. I bought tons of books.

Mari said...

How lovely to read of your trip and experiences. Huge kudos to Finbar and of course Juno who got to share it all with you. Great recollection of it all. Welcome back and rest up all of yez! :)

Nuala Ní Chonchúir said...

Thanks a million, Mari, your comment is much appreciated. We are still a bit zombie-like. Sincerely hoping to get to my desk and WRITE tomorrow x

Barbara Smith said...

Enjoyed that! I know what you mean about driving US roads & especially interstates! Blummin scary!

Nuala Ní Chonchúir said...

Thanks, B. Roads are totally scary!! Worth it though 😊

Nuala Ní Chonchúir said...

Thanks, B. Roads are totally scary!! Worth it though 😊

Nuala Ní Chonchúir said...

Thanks, B. Roads are totally scary!! Worth it though 😊