I love German book fairs.
Every single one I've been to has been PACKED, and while that does tend to slow things down as you're trying to walk from one gigantic hall to the other, you really don't mind all that much. All these people crammed in around you are book-lovers, for god's sake. How annoyed can you actually be?
Over the weekend, I was at TWO German book fairs. The first one was in Cologne, on Friday evening, and I was up on stage with Rainer, the actor who does the German audiobooks, and Margarete, the translator. We've been doing this together for a few years now, so we're all quite comfortable with the process. The main difference between events in Germany and events everywhere else (apart from the need for a translator) is the emphasis put on the audio book. Rainer is as integral to the show as I am, and his readings make up half of our time on stage. The event in Cologne went wonderfully, and we had a really receptive audience, and I even spotted some familiar faces in the queue.
Once I'd finished signing, we went back to our hotel, where we had a very nice meal attended by the weirdest waiters I've ever encountered. One was tall, one was short, and they looked so alike that I started to suspect that they were the rejects from a batch of clones some mad professor had concocted in a dark and dingy lab. They were both wearing ill-fitting suits, both had the same type of glasses, and they both stood around and stared into space in the corners of the room while we were waiting to place our orders. So incredibly ODD.
Thankfully, we managed to escape the restaurant before they could kill us and harvest our organs to replace their own failing ones, and I got to my room and got into bed and put my head on the most deadly pillow the world has ever known. It was so big and so soft that when I put my head onto it, the whole thing folded up on either side and tried to suffocate me.
Convinced that the clone waiters were hovering outside my door, waiting for me to die, I slept without a pillow that night. I also slept sideways, because the double bed I'd been given was, in actual fact, two single beds pushed together, and I kept slipping down between them. Who knows what was waiting for me if I had slipped all the way? Scorpions? Tarantulas? Really lazy ninjas? Or maybe just a hole in the floor and a twisting slide that would deliver me to the mad professor's Experimentation Table of Doom?
I survived the night. Barely.
The next morning, we got a train to Frankfurt and then a plane to Leipzig. No attempts on my life were made during this time.
Leipzig Book Fair is half book festival and half comic convention. There are all these people dressed as Manga characters roaming around, chatting on their phones, browsing book shelves. Also, all of Germany had had a pretty bad winter, and there was piles of snow everywhere and it was pretty damn cold— and in the middle of it all you have these really cute German girls walking around in bizarre costumes that don't really cover a whole lot. They must have been FREEZING.
We did our first event, and although we only had a half an hour, it went very well. Such a huge crowd. The signing went on forever, and it was so cool seeing that many people wanting me to scrawl my signature over whatever they had.
The moment we were finished there we got in a car and drove to a graveyard. Because that's what you do once night falls, obviously.
We went to a huge sarcophagus-type place and we yapped in front of 200 people, doing our best to ignore the deep hole behind us with the old coffin. So just an average Saturday night, then...
Once that was done with, we went to dinner with a bunch of other people, including American author Maggie Stiefvater, and I sat at a big table with a bunch of people speaking German all around me. Best night EVER! Well, not quite. But Maggie is a funny lady.
Then I got back to my hotel. This time, my bed was a proper double bed, but the waiters had obviously followed me from Cologne because those damn pillows tried to drown my head again.
Sunday was my last day there. It was also Saint Patrick's Day.
(That's St PADDY'S Day, in its shortened version. Not St PATTY'S Day, as some Americans insist on calling it...)
I had an interview to do in the morning, and then I had two hours off before my event, so I went wandering through the halls. It was all so incredibly strange, and wonderfully so. It made me wish that Irish book festivals were like this. Imagine if The Mountains to the Sea festival had hundreds of teenagers walking around dressed as characters from comics and books. That would ROCK.
We did our event, signed for an enormous amount of people, and then I was whisked off to the airport to catch my first flight. I arrived back to my front door a little under eight hours later, tired but happy to be home, and looking forward to spending a night with my head on a pillow that doesn't try to kill me.