Reunions, Parties and a Celebrity Spot

A few weeks ago I was invited to the Lucas Alexander Whiteley (LAW) agency party, at their offices in Kensington. The weather was good enough to be outside in their garden, where trays of canapés were brought round at regular intervals. I was grateful that instead of tiny finger food, these canapés consisted of giant slices of pizza. The party was great fun, and I got to catch up with Kira, a friend of mine from the Columbia course who is interning at the agency. I was the last person to leave – obviously – which meant I got a tour around and sneak peak at some of their upcoming releases.

 

Kira!

Kira!

The following week we had a more fully fledged Columbia reunion for all the Brits, and newly adopted Londoners: Carolyn, Kate, Kira, Jess, and Daniela. Weird and wonderful to see them all out of the New York bubble, and catch up on news and updates. Also crucial to this gathering was food. Lots of it. Homeslice in Covent Garden is a favoured spot for many a Penguin, and I’m no exception. In short, they have cheap and good wine, much Prosecco, and pizzas so large that when they’re placed on the table there is no room for glasses/cutlery/anything. I look forward to doing this regularly.

Kira, Daniela, Kate, Jess, Carolyn and me

Kira, Daniela, Kate, Jess, Carolyn and me

Last week I had a day out of the office at BLE – Brand Licensing Europe – 2014. It’s huge fair held in Olympia where all the major brand owners from around the world have a presence, the aim being to sell licenses in their properties, and also to schmooze and see and be seen. It’s big, bright and colourful as you’ll see from the pictures below. I spent a lot of time wandering around with Emily and Rich, scoping out the various licensors, and going to a few meetings, and collecting some all-important swag. I was slightly overexcited to discover a ‘Table Dennis’ area of the ground floor – a Dennis the Menace themed ping pong table where I dragged Rich in between meetings. When I wasn’t exploring or playing Table Dennis I was curled up on a sofa at the Penguin Random House stand, catching up on some reading. Another highlight was seeing the Universal screening, where they showed the first ever footage of Jurassic World. Very excited to see it next year.

PRH stand

PRH stand

 

 

Puffin 'Dennis' books on display

Puffin ‘Dennis’ books on display

 

Dreamworks stand

Dreamworks stand

Ubisoft stand

Ubisoft stand

TABLE DENNIS

TABLE DENNIS

Comfy Penguin cushions at the stand

Comfy Penguin cushions at the stand

BLE

BLE

Mind Candy stand

Mind Candy stand

After the fair we went for a drink and then to dinner at Yas, a Persian restaurant on Kensington High Street, where I managed to find the one dish that didn’t feature lamb (ugh!), and thoroughly enjoyed it. We trekked further up the road to Kensington Roof Gardens, for the Mind Candy party! Mind Candy are regular collaborators of ours (the photo of me in bubble wrap on PopJam? It’s their app) and we have an exciting new project together, which I AM allowed to mention, as of four days ago. We’ve acquired rights to publish a range of books based on their new World of Warriors game, and I’ll be assisting on the fiction titles, written by the wonderful Curtis Jobling.

http://www.thebookseller.com/news/penguin-acquires-publishing-rights-world-warriors

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Roof Gardens

Roof Gardens

The party was great, and the venue pretty special – hadn’t been before. I gather there are flamingos there in the day time. We think we found where they keep them and tried to get in but couldn’t. Luckily it was a warm evening too, so we got to make good use of the promised gardens. The highlight of the evening was the spotting of Dick and Dom. What do you mean, ‘Who are Dick and Dom?’ Um, Dick and Dom IN DA BUNGALOW, the show that every child of the 90s remembers with fond memories, chiefly when our titular presenters had to shout ‘BOGIES’ in public places, obviously. Anyway, we got a photo with them, and it made certain members of our group very happy indeed. Photo achieved, drinks drunk, mingling complete, we piled high our bags of sweets from the snack table, and made our way home.

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Dick and Dom!

Dick and Dom!

Next time: visiting Zurich.

Tig

 

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London Publishing Adventures

Hello!

I’ve been back at work for four weeks now (though it sort of feels like I never left), and it’s back to busy business as usual.

On my first day getting up at 6:30 again was a slight struggle. So much in fact that I opted to snooze a bit longer and catch a slighter later train. At the station I saw my usual commuting buddies (we are in fact not buddies and do not speak to each other or make eye contact) and thought how great it was to have had this amazing break from my routine.

It was a bright and sunny morning, so I took the slightly longer route out of Charing Cross station to walk past Trafalgar Square – taking a few snaps to send to my American friends, to prove that London has its charms too.

Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square

 

Arriving at Penguin Towers

Arriving at Penguin Towers

 

I got up to the office to a lovely warm welcome from my fellow Puffins, and began unpacking my boxes. I was also greeted, much less warmly, by my inbox, which I’ve barely looked at in two months. I was confused because it said ‘2014’ in the top left which is not where the date should be. Cue sinking of heart when I realised that ‘2014’ was the amount of unread emails in my inbox.

OH HAAAAAYYY, INBOX

OH HAAAAAYYY, INBOX

The first few days I spent catching up on some of the above emails and getting up to speed with the latest news, particularly on the titles I help to look after.

clean desk

clean desk

I attend and minute a lot of meetings in the Children’s Division, which has been a good way to see what has changed – and what hasn’t! There are some exciting new acquisitions, and some more cool things in the pipeline.

Always promising to find danger signs on your desk. (This is for one of our awesome new books!)

Always promising to find danger signs on your desk. (This is for one of our awesome new books!)

My second week back was taken up with coordinating my first pitch. A book idea of mine for someone I wanted to approach became a possibility when we got in touch with the agent just before I went away. In those two months things have progressed, so it was pitch time. Doing a pitch is exciting and exhausting, as it involves lots of different teams having to drop everything at short notice. The end result looked fantastic, and it’s now with the agent.

To give you an idea of the very varied, and often totally random life of an assistant, I present to you the question of the box. I arranged a gift for one of our authors, and, feeling like being extra-organised, ordered it two weeks before we needed to send it. (I thought this would allow time for us to wrap it ourselves maybe, and for postage). The present in question was a lovely hamper from Fortnum & Mason and it arrived without hiccup on a Tuesday morning. Problem was, I hadn’t realised that the box contained fresh produce – most hampers don’t – which presented the mild conundrum of what to do with it. It was too big to fit in our fridges, I didn’t want to unpack the hamper to remove the fresh goods, and I couldn’t send it two weeks early. I ended up lugging it up to the 10th floor and begging the hospitality staff to store it in their industrial fridge for a couple of weeks. Luckily they agreed, only because August was a bit quieter for them and they had a bit of space. Phew!

My internet stardom

My internet stardom

Another highlight – if you can call it that – was the release of Mind Candy’s PopJam app. Mind Candy are regular collaborators of ours, and their new app is a creative community for kids. A few months ago my ‘esteemed colleagues’ wrapped me up in bubble wrap on the pub day of Phil Earle’s The Bubble Wrap Boy  – SEE WHAT THEY DID THERE – and it was documented by pesky photo apparatus. I hadn’t thought much more of it until the picture resurfaced…on PopJam. Most interactions involve kids drawing on the images that Puffin posts on there, so I’d envisaged cringing at some cheeky kids defiling my personage. They haven’t though, thus far, and I’ve got off lightly with a few ‘lols’ and ‘rofls.’ FOR NOW.

I have some really exciting new titles and projects to look after, which I’ll tell you more about soon. Hopefully I’ll also get into the swing of blogging more regularly again too!

What do you think about renaming my blog? I want to make it more publishing focused, so might make the change from ‘Tig in Real Life.’ How about something simple like ‘The Publishing Blog’? What do you think?

Until next time!

Tig

Canadian Adventures: Rochester, Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and Toronto

Sunday 3rd August

We got up early on Sunday and had breakfast at Pershing Square – where we often eat breakfast if we’re in New York as a family. It calls itself the ‘busiest breakfast in New York’ and I wouldn’t argue against that! The food is good, portions are generous, and turnaround is quick.

Having packed up the rest of our stuff, we went to pick up the hire car at the airport. Delays ensued but we finally got on the road at about 11:30, and began to leave the city behind us. Some of the views back at Manhattan from the north were beautiful, but I felt another pang of sadness when the last tips of skyscrapers and glimpses of bridge down the Hudson finally disappeared.

 

Where are we going?

Where are we going?

Rather than taking us straight north, through some of the scenic bits of upstate, our Satnav took us west through New Jersey. It was quick, but…scenic? Not so much. We even got as far as crossing into Pennsylvania, before we finally started heading back North. At least I can add two more states to my checklist, which now stands at, er, 7/50.

My almost namesake

My almost namesake

As we re-entered New York State, the heavens opened. It was the most prolonged, and worst, rain I’d seen since being in New York, and it lasted for ages. We bypassed Syracuse – not much point in stopping if we couldn’t leave the car without drowning – and carried on to Rochester, which was our earmarked destination for the night. We stopped briefly at a service station when the rain became too heavy to drive in, and watched people running, screaming from their cars.

We used the service station WiFi to find a place to stay in Rochester, and ended up at a lovely little hotel in a quiet, tree-lined street full of large detached houses with yawning front porches, and which generally felt like a million miles from NYC. A late dinner was followed by the best night’s sleep I’d had in months.

Cosy fire outside

Cosy fire outside. And a TV?!

Monday 4th August

My birthday!

We had a lie in, and then had a late breakfast. Sitting by the window, with the sun streaming in, Rochester innocently pretended that yesterday’s rain hadn’t happened. After all that’s happened in the last couple of months, it felt like a very odd place to be waking up to on my birthday, but not in a bad way. We packed up soon after, and hit the road again.

IMG_5643

Rochester to Buffalo was a drive of about 45 minutes. They call Buffalo the ‘architectural’ heart of New York, and this proved true by some of the impressive buildings we saw. More impressive however, were the famed Buffalo chicken wings I ate at lunchtime. I’m remembering them now, as I write, and can hear my stomach rumbling. Why don’t I have any right here?!

CHICKEN WINGS

CHICKEN WINGS

Next up was Niagara Falls which I was very excited about. We’d heard that the Canadian side was by far the better viewpoint, so instead of driving up through north-west Buffalo, we went south-west and crossed the Peace Bridge into Canada. The queues to get across the border were huge, and everyone seemed to be going from the US into Canada, rather than the other way (it felt a bit like we were fleeing a natural disaster or something). Eventually we got across, and I set foot on Canadian soil for the first time in my life. It was in a customs car park, but still.

CANADIA

CANADIA

 

 

We drove on to Niagara. It becomes clear when you’re nearing the Falls by the sudden increase in volume of cars, touristy shops, and big hotels. When we looped down another road, the roads were immediately full of people, and beyond them, our first glimpse of the Falls. We parked the car and then walked to join the crowds.

It’s easy to see what brought them there. Horseshoe Falls was directly in front of us, with American Falls to the left. Between them, a fifth of the world’s fresh water flows over a height of around 51 metres. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I was very impressed. I don’t think photos can really do it justice – it’s something you have to see in person. I did find it funny to see the boats way down below, which take tourists in waterproof ponchos up close to the Falls, where they get soaked through and scream. After walking up and down, taking it all in (and confirming that this side had the much better views than if we were in Buffalo), we set off for Toronto.

P1170461

 

P1170485

 

Would not want to be on that boat. Would you?

Would not want to be on that boat. Would you?

 

About 30 minutes after we set off, the rain began again. And got worse. And worse. And worse. By the time we’d reached Burlington on the Queen Elizabeth Highway, the traffic had slowed to crawling, and then stopped completely. We thought there must have been an accident ahead – it later turned out that they had to shut the highway because of flooding. In any case, plans for my birthday meal in Toronto quickly evaporated. Instead, we passed around a pack of Cheetos and some popcorn as we inched our way forwards over the course of three hours. By the time we got to Toronto it was midnight, and we had to drive around before we found a hotel that had space for us. All the roads seemed to be undergoing construction, which made it difficult to get around. We eventually found a hotel, and were just thankful to be off the road. It was certainly a birthday to remember!

Eaton shopping centre

Eaton shopping centre

Our time in Toronto was brilliant. The next night, I was treated to a great birthday dinner at Canoe restaurant, which is very high up with a great view over the city. We did some of the touristy musts – including the CN tower, Eaton shopping centre, Chinatown etc – as well as plenty of wandering around, seeing the Toronto University campus (beautiful), and I just enjoyed a switch off from the intensive months of the course. My mum and I also spent a day at the Rogers Cup tennis tournament, where we saw some great matches and players, from Djokovic and Dimitrov, to Berdych and home favourite, Raonic. We rushed to the practice courts to see Federer too, of course. On our way to the tennis we walked through York University campus, to be confronted by a sort of big, tailless beaver thing. It ran right up to us and got up on its hind legs, and up close I recognised it from my trip to the Natural History Museum as a groundhog! I was mildly concerned that touching it would result in rabies, but the people around us were encouraging, and said that it was the local neighbourhood groundhog, Len, so I petted his head. Realising we had no food, Len moved on a passing family, whose daughter shrieked and tried to hide in some bushes, as if she were being approached by a bear.

View from Canoe

View from Canoe

 

 

Night!

Night!

 

 

 

City Hall

City Hall

Campbell House

Campbell House

Chinatown

Chinatown

Justice building

Justice building

 

Len the groundhog

Len the groundhog

 

 

 

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

Rogers Cup

Rogers Cup

 

ROGER!

ROGER!

Too soon, it was time to fly home, only to find our flight delayed. We eventually set off from Toronto at around 11:30pm on Friday – after enjoying the pretty snazzy airport, where every table comes with an iPad – and arrived back in London the following day. The sun was shining, which almost never happens when you come back from holiday!

Arriving home again felt a little surreal, especially because the last two months haven’t really sunk in yet. My task for the rest of the weekend was just to sleep, rest, recover before going back to work on Monday.

To be continued!

Hey, London

Hey, London