Thursday 23rd February marked the official release date for my first children’s picture book, Better Places Nicky and Candy’s Street, and on Sunday 26th February we had a launch event to celebrate just that.
I woke up early on Sunday 26th February to make sure I had everything ready for the launch event to come.
I didn’t feel nervous at this point. I felt quite good. We (Maisie and me) had everything in order, everything organised, and we were good to go.
We made our way to The Lowry Theatre who were kind enough to offer me the space for the launch – which I’ll be forever grateful for. How lucky to have my first book launch at one of the most iconic art venues in the UK, and based in my home-town of Salford.
We entered through the magical ‘stage doors’ and was greeted by the lovely Victoria who looked after us for the day. We were shown through to Pier 8 conference room where the launch would take place.
The sound and tech guy was there to make sure everything was in order and it all worked perfectly. Not long after, Three Two One Theatre came in to rehearse for their supporting performance of the reading.
The excitement was setting in!
14:00pm started to close in fast. It wasn’t long before echo’s from outside entered the room as people were waiting to come in.
As the clock hit 13:45pm, Victoria started seeing people through and from there it was a bit of a blur of hugs, kisses, and a whole lot of love.
I started to feel really overwhelmed at this point. I knew who was coming, how many and what I was saying but I had such an intense feeling of gratitude for everyone who had turned out for me. Family, friends, colleagues, people who I’d not seen for years, people who I’d never met before but who’d come along because they were interested in the book. It felt like a lot.
Nether the less, I did what I could, quietened the crowd as they were seated and started the book launch for Nicky and Candy’s Street.
I spoke of the journey to getting the book out there, what I wanted the book to achieve and how my own experience, personally and professionally, had led me to write it.
I felt nervous but it was well received (or seemed to be) and before I knew it was time to announce Three Two One Theatre for the reading of Nicky and Candy’s Street.
They came out and absolutely smashed it. The acting was spot on, they brought my story too life and got all the crowd laughing, smiling, and singing along with them. I couldn’t have asked for anything better and I’m so grateful for my cousin Sasha who runs the school for pulling it all together.
Then it was onto a short talk about a big inspiration for Nicky and Candy’s Street; my mum, ‘Nicky’ Nicola Andrews. Not only is the main character named after her, but she’s been a massive form of encouragement for me not to just want the book to sit on shelves but for me to take into schools for wider learning, as she used to when I was younger.
This led me nicely into welcoming onto the stage two young people I’d worked with from a recent school visit; Charlie and Freddie. I think it was fair to say there was a bit of stage fright, but we got the point of what they’d learnt across together. They were much chattier during the post school visit interview we did, which you can catch-up on here – https://youtu.be/n1gWhvdvdOo
It was then to introducing a craft activity to find out who could design the best Candy, supported by Charlotte Jenkins, illustrator of Nicky and Candy’s Street who came all the way over from Birmingham, as well as break and time to do some book signings.
I felt the love again with all the people queuing to offer well wishes, purchase books and have their books signed. It’s fair to say my hand was pretty numb by the time we’d finished.
After the break, Charlotte and myself judged who made the best Candy as part of the craft activity. There were some great efforts and after dismissing a few ones that looked as though an adult had to have made them (which they admitted too), it was Freddie who took home some sweets and a free copy of the book.
To close, we had a thank you to The Lowry as hosts, Three Two One Theatre for their fantastic performance and then onto my Maisie, for all the support a partner could possibly give – and of course, everyone who turned out for the launch and supported the book so far.
After final chats, hugs, and goodbyes to everyone and a quick clean up, it was off for a pint and some food to decompress from what could only be described as an amazing day (now I’m able to reflect on it without the stress and nerves).
It’s also set quite a high standard for my next book launch – but we’ll worry about that as things with Anthony and Wheeliam’s Street progress later on in the year.
Witten by Ben Andrews on