While Iceland’s’ volcano is on display for the world to see, the London Book Fair keeps pace with the storm. I left California heading for London on KLM airways the day of the eruption. As our plane arrived at a scheduled 3 hour layover in Amsterdam the captain announced the details he had gathered on the volcano below Eyjafjallajokull glacier. The flight was to continue on to London with my bags and a crate of books in tow. (The books were to be displayed at the fair for promotion and foreign rights/film right sales.) Very few flights left after that and if they did, they were heading south or east away from the ever growing ash cloud.
Once on the ground travelers began scrambling for alternative means to their European destinations, others immediately rescheduled their flights and ran for accommodations. Hotel prices doubled in a flash, rental cars speed out of car parks leaving only the most expensive for last, trains filled up, ferries were booked solid and air traffic came to a screeching halt. Planes already in the sky began to land and not leave. Bags and books, such as I was carrying, were stowed in a large room awaiting the final leg – only to be buried under thousands of other bags piled to the ceiling of a holding facility. No one could retrieve their bags. One man needed insulin from his stowed bag for his diabetes and was told by officials to go to the nearest hospital for assistance. Later, I learned that all travelers needing medical supplies were sent to the hospital.
Two days later my wife and I took an overnight bus from Amsterdam to London with a bus driver who had been pulled from his family vacation and had never driven on the left side of the road and had never been to London with a coach. The bus ride was uneventful besides traveling in a coach that was driven on to a train traveling under the English Channel.
The hotel in London would not change our paid reservation so for two nights we paid for two hotel rooms, one in Amsterdam at a jacked up price and for the hotel in London. We arrived at 6 am in only the clothes on our backs and what little useful items we had in our carry-ons. KLM officials warn us – not to expect our luggage for a few weeks or even longer. That mystery is still an unsolved.
After a short nap I decided to go digital and burn my book and cover to disk rather than have no promotional materials. Disks had to be burnt, labels properly placed, and prop posters designed. We had to buy new clothes.
I now have two books on each disk; ‘Cale Dixon and the Moguk Murders’, a crime/detective story and ‘White Bars’, a young adult book about to be published. Both books are being promoted in London and offering film right and foreign rights sales.
Obviously many people and publishers have cancelled their tickets and accommodations for the book fair including the staff of my own publisher. My wife and I volunteered to help for the next three days of the fair. I write it off as a great learning experience both as a traveller and as a writer trying to break into the field. It might mean less seminars for me but the whole experience is one big seminar and I will make the best of it. I’ll keep you posted. DD