On Thursday I travelled down to London to attend the launch for my lovely friend Liz de Jager’s debut novel Banished. It is the first in a young adult urban fantasy trilogy published by Tor in the UK.
Kit is proud to be a Blackhart, now she’s encountered her unorthodox cousins and their strange lives. And her home-schooling now includes spells, fighting enemy fae and using ancient weapons. But it’s not until she rescues a rather handsome fae prince, fighting for his life on the edge of Blackhart Manor, that her training really kicks in. With her family away on various missions, Kit must protect Prince Thorn, rely on new friends and use her own unfamiliar magic to stay ahead of Thorn’s enemies. As things go from bad to apocalyptic, fae battle fae in a war that threatens to spill into the human world. Then Kit pits herself against the Elder Gods themselves – it’s that or lose everyone she’s learnt to love.
The very first interaction I had with Liz was on Twitter. There was a discussion going on about writing (a far from unusual occurrence amongst many of the people I hang around with on Twitter) and she told me to get my butt in the chair and write – solid advice I am still heeding a few years on. We chatted plenty more online before getting to meet in person at the Thoughtbubble comics convention in 2011, I spent the day with her and her equally lovely husband Mark – we geeked out about the many things we saw, about our mutual interests and of course about writing.
It was as we sat eating lunch that Liz told me about her current project (that was to become Banished), it sounded hugely exciting and part of me knew instantly then that it was going to work out for her. It was a real thrill therefore when some time later she asked me if I’d be prepared to read for her and give feedback – I’ve been doing so every since and it has felt like a real privilege to tag along for her journey to publication.
I’m glad I’m having a break from reviewing, I couldn’t begin to review Banished – it’s a book I care far too much about to begin to work out how to approach talking about it in an impartial way. I’ve been so excited to see so many great reviews for it already, it certainly deserves all of the praise it has been getting.
The launch itself was a wonderful evening. The room it was held in was jam packed with so many well-wishers all wanting to celebrate Liz’s achievement. She’s a popular lady, her time running My Favourite Books has earned her the respect of a huge number of people involved in publishing in the UK – authors, publishers, booksellers and reviewers alike. Liz spent a huge amount of the launch sat behind a table signing copies of her book – at one point it was very hard to work out where exactly the end of the snaking queue was, everyone wanted their copy signed.
I had such a lovely time. I got to catch up with people I haven’t seen for a very long time – living so far from London is a real hindrance at times. I also got to meet people I’d chatted with online but not had the chance to meet before. By the time I got back to the youth hostel I was staying in I was exhausted in the best possible way – it had been a great evening for the very best of reasons.