Rarely anything happens on a Monday night. But last June 3rd, 2013 a hundred or more people gathered at Hemingway’s Lounge in Hollywood, CA. Many folks stayed past their bedtime to celebrate the launch of Siege and Storm (Grisha Trilogy (Shadow and Bone)) , the second book in Leigh Bardugo’s NY Times Bestselling Grisha Trilogy.
A line had formed outside Hemingway’s Lounge by the time I got there. But I barely noticed the wait time, as I had fun chatting with fellow SCBWI member and wonder cook/lawyer Elle Jauffret.
A photo booth was set up right outside the bar’s main entrance. Guests lined up to have their photos taken against a backdrop of Siege & Storm’s amazing book cover. The photographers even provided a trunk full of props for people to use.
I’d never heard of a book launch being held at a bar before, but as soon as we entered Hemingway’s Lounge, I immediately realized how perfect a setting it was. Bookcases filled with thousands of books surrounded the whole area. One wall was even dedicated to old typewriters. It was a writer’s perfect lounge.
Hemingway’s Lounge in Hollywood, CA, photo from their website: Hemingway’s Lounge
The event started around 8 PM, with an introduction from David Peterson, the man who invented the Valerian language for Game of Thrones. He told us of how he had first met Leigh at a Sci-Fi convention, and of how Leigh was possibly the only writer out there with words in Game of Thrones named after her. (Bardugon in valerian means writer)
David Peterson, who wrote the language for Game of Thrones, introduces Leigh Bardugo
Leigh was shocked and overwhelmed upon hearing this and couldn’t quite contain her happiness. She thanked everyone for being there and began her inspiring talk.
Leigh Bardugo, overwhelmed with joy by David Peterson’s introduction
She read an entry from her high school diary, in which she had listed down all the superpowers she wanted to have including flying, invisibility, mind reading (which she could switch off and on, of course), immortality (with an apparent escape clause) and the ability to write a book and get it published.
Leigh Bardugo reading from her high school diary
Leigh had wanted to share with us the entry because in her mind, getting published was just as impossible as having powers of flight or immortality. And yet she had managed to get published, which proves that nothing is impossible. Improbable, maybe, but not impossible.
After her inspiring speech, Leigh read an excerpt from Siege and Storm. Like the Sun Summoner in Leigh’s book, fellow author Margaret Stohl magically produced light (with the aid of her cellphone) so Leigh could read the words on the page.
Author Margaret Stohl helping Leigh Bardugo out with a little light
A short Q & A followed Leigh’s reading. She answered many of the audience members questions, and was put on the spot when Margaret Stohl turned villain and goaded the crowd into demanding that Leigh Bardugo sing for us. Like the trooper that she is, Leigh agreed and sang us the theme song to Charles in Charge.
Author Leigh Bardugo
Loud cheers and claps reverberated when Leigh finished her song. But the event wasn’t over yet. Leigh pulled out raffle tickets from the bowl and gave away some awesome prizes. One lucky person actually went home with 40 Books!
Audience listening to Leigh
Finally, Leigh ended the program and invited everyone to get their books signed. The lines were long and the room was crowded. I spotted several authors in attendance, including Jessica Brody, Lissa Price, Sara Wilson Etienne, Kristen Kittscher, and Jennifer Bosworth and a lot more mingling in the lounge. I ended up being one of the last ones to get my book signed, but it was worth the wait. I even got to chat with author Rachel Searles, whose book is coming out soon.
With author Leigh Bardugo, thanks to Rachel Searles for taking the picture
Right before I left I bumped into LEGEND author Marie Lu and we had a nice little chat. It was a perfect way to end an already wonderful night.
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