When I wrote my first blog for Authonomy in March, I was counting down the minutes until the launch of my novel “Summer Blast”. I was over the hurdle of getting published and a host of new doubts twirled in my mind: how would the launch go? Would anyone be interested in the book? Would I disappoint the publisher, the readers, myself?
So I packed my highest heels (to help me stand tall in case my writing hopes came down crashing) and headed to the first stop in our Middle East road show: The Abu Dhabi International Book Fair where we launched "Summer Blast" on the publisher’s stand. Copies were piled up on a table and we welcomed an amalgam of visitors: invited guests who were kind enough to come, but also numerous fair visitors who seemed almost as excited as I was to be attending a book launch. There was a magical quality to the day as people stopped by to ask about the book, get their copy signed or just chat, making me realize how much goodwill people have towards writers.
The following day, we hosted a signing in a cupcake shop in Dubai and a week later launched the book in Virgin Megastore, downtown Beirut.
As we waited for reader reactions to start coming through, we pushed on with PR: press interviews, reviews and a couple of TV appearances, including one on a primetime chat show. Thankfully, most journalists and bloggers were supportive, approving of "Summer Blast"’s message around overcoming the hardships of war by holding on to the seemingly futile concerns of everyday life. We were lucky to get comments such as "Genre Busting New Novel" in Time Out Beirut magazine, “The ultimate chicklit novel” in Elle Magazine Middle East, "Beautifully and lightly portrayed" in Khaleej Times newspaper and “Hard to Put down” by Micheline Hazou, one of my favorite bloggers.
A few weeks later, my publisher emailed the unexpected news: "Summer Blast" had made number one bestselling novel at Virgin Megastore, Lebanon’s largest book retail chain. As there are no national book sales statistics in Lebanon, this was the best we could have hoped for.
Yet, nothing beats the joy of receiving supportive messages from readers; I can’t help but do a happy dance every time I get one of those!
Today, as we get ready to start promoting "Summer Blast" in London, I’m keeping my fingers crossed, my high heels firmly on and my excitement up.
About Summer Blast:
In “Summer Blast” three Lebanese women have their summer planned out: Maya is finalizing her wedding preparations, Rouba is about to travel to Kuwait to get divorced and Elyssar is on the verge of making a lifelong dream come true: see Madonna in concert in Paris. But war erupts leaving Lebanon cut off from the world and the girls find themselves faced with difficult choices. Determined to pursue her Madonna dream, Elyssar finds a way to get evacuated onboard an American carrier. Rouba has to battle physical danger and her family’s disapproval to carry on with divorce, while Maya turns into a wartime bridezilla.
Hear more about Dania's journey at her blog, twitter and Facebook