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48 Hours in a Debut Author’s Life
Cheese plates, live television, and dragon tales.
I so enjoy a juicy day-in-the-life post, although I rarely have anything thrilling to share (unless you find Trader Joe’s snack roundups thrilling, in which case, DM me!). But thanks to my wonderful publishing team and the Read with Jenna crew, I had a completely magical, whirlwind 48 hours last week, starting with the morning Banyan Moon was published. With multiple cheese plates under my belt, an action-packed morning on the TODAY Show Plaza, and a (joyfully) teary afternoon at my publisher’s office, I left New York City full to the brim with memories. Below, a quick snapshot of the who-what-wheres that made my trip so special.
7 a.m.: As publication day dawns, I’m soaring through the clouds on a last-minute flight (thanks, holiday cancellations!). Last time I was in New York, I was just out of college, interviewing for a job that felt out of reach (and one I didn’t end up getting). I was unsure of what I wanted to do, but full of hope that my career would someday involve working with words. Seventeen years later, I’m heading towards the city of dreams again, feeling in some ways like the exact same person I was when I first visited. Unsure, hopeful, tingly with excitement. I only slept four hours the previous night, but jitters are keeping me from falling asleep on the plane, so I crack open my copy of the Booktok-famous Fourth Wing, a dragon-filled romantasy with distinct Hunger Games vibes.
Mom texts “have fun and be safe,” which is the most mom message ever. I promise to do both.
10 a.m.: After an hour-long cab ride into the city, I arrive at my hotel in Times Square. There are multiple people wearing giant Mickey masks (??), the falafel smells incredible, and I’m ready to collapse. I try to take a quick power nap, but instead cram myself full of pretzels I found in the bottom of my luggage, and catch up on texts from friends who sent selfies of themselves with Banyan Moon. Distraction: 1; sleep: 0. Happiness: 100.
1 p.m.: I meet my agent, Abby, and my editor, Molly, for a bite at Eataly, just blocks away from the HarperCollins offices. I’ve never met Molly in person before, even though we work so close together, and she gives me the tightest hug. Everything smells like prosciutto at Eataly, which is exciting. We order our first cheese plate of the day and chat about books, dream vacations, and most importantly—the new season of The Summer I Turned Pretty. (Team Jer-bear all the way.)
2 p.m.: HarperCollins is a wonder—so many books overflowing on shelves lining the offices. Molly offers to send me any book I want and I nearly collapse. We take a selfie on the famous HC stairs. I try not to gawk too much at the superstars just walking around the hallways. I do a quick video conference for the American Booksellers Association, then meet all the wonderful people that worked on Banyan Moon. We have a beautiful champagne toast and a signing, and I get to meet even more people, some of whom read Banyan Moon at the very beginning. I’m so full of joy and love that I keep shoving champagne on everyone out of sheer giddiness.
6 p.m.: An epic dinner at the Tribeca Grill with Team Banyan—all except my wonderful publicist, Eliza, who also had an untimely plane cancellation. On the street, I pass a TikTok influencer I follow and resisted the urge to gush. We try to find Taylor Swift’s apartment building and exchange celebrity gossip. (I have none to share, but I’m all ears.) The food is amazing (cheese plate no. 2 FTW), the conversation floweth, and I get to have the most decadent bite of cheesecake. My cheeks hurt from all the laughing. Best. Team. Ever.
10 p.m.: Back at the hotel room for a pre-bedtime shower (the water pressure at The Muse is incredible) and another chapter of Fourth Wing. What is it about a hotel, when it comes to sleep? The room feels like a velvety cocoon, surrounding every inch of me. Nevertheless, I only get a handful of hours because—anxiety!
Next day, 6 a.m.: I’m meeting the Jenna Bush Hager on the TODAY Show Plaza bright and early. This requires a last-minute outfit change, two very strong cups of coffee, and a quick FaceTime with my husband and daughter. Whenever I’m overwhelmed, I check in with them. They make me feel grounded like no one else! The whole Banyan team is waiting to walk over to Rockefeller Center with me. (Special shout-out to publicist Jess, who commutes almost two hours into the city!) We get ushered into a green room by Jenna’s fabulous team, and I take the requisite photo by the sign with my name on it.
8:30 a.m.: While waiting to walk out to the plaza, Hoda stops me and extends her congratulations. She’s so warm and lovely. I’m floating on air. Meanwhile, I hear a minor commotion behind me, but I’m still too disassociated to notice. Later, I learn it was the cast of The Summer I Turned Pretty arriving for their spot, and I kick myself for not noticing how close I was to them. I meet the lovely visitors on the plaza and sign books. Then someone taps me on the shoulder and it’s the icon herself, Jenna, looking absolutely luminous. I’m falling over myself, but find the wherewithal to thank her for the great honor of making Banyan Moon the July Read with Jenna pick. She’s exactly as gracious and enthusiastic as you would imagine. And we both matched the book cover, too.
10 a.m.: A quick breakfast and breathless rehash after the TODAY Show. They serve us eggs in those little egg cups that remind us of that breakfast scene from Ever After (“Danielle! The eggs!”). Then we’re off to sign books at McNally Jackson’s, the Strand, and the Union Square Barnes and Noble. Booksellers are the best of the best—they immediately warm up any space and put everyone at ease. At the Strand, I get to sign the author wall! I also pick up tote bags, stationery, and souvenirs for my daughter (including one very adorable Jellycat with a tiny pink backpack). I say goodbye to everyone, but not too sadly, because I’ll be back in July for an in-studio interview with Jenna!
12 p.m.: The day’s over and I should be exploring New York, but I’m suddenly so anxious to see my husband and daughter. I head to the airport and get on standby for an earlier flight. In the meantime, I eat a giant burger and take a photo of Banyan Moon on a newsstand next to the wonderful Steven Rowley’s The Celebrants, last month’s RWJ pick! I read more Fourth Wing and flip through all the photos of the trip with a huge smile on my face.
7 p.m.: After a few hours at the airport and a bumpy flight into the hazy Midwest (air quality alerts abound), I’m driving home, feeling slightly disoriented. The orangey sky is eerie, just a hint of what many parts of the country experience. At home, I see a lovely, handmade sign from my kiddo on the door. Then it’s snuggles, catch-up chats, and an early bedtime for us all. I go to bed feeling lucky for every single thing that happened on pub day. All my thanks to my wonderful team at Mariner, and the incomparable RWJ crew for giving me the experience of a lifetime!
To all the generous readers, editors, and reviewers that have taken the time to pick up Banyan Moon, I’m endlessly thankful! You’ve given the kind of support that really changes an author’s life. I owe all this to you!
Stay tuned for the next issue of Wallflower Chats, where I share a tried-and-true list of writing resources that might help any writers out there. In the words of my mother, enjoy the holiday and be safe!
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