Don’t get me wrong, the London launch of Iceland, Defrosted at the Embassy of Iceland may have appeared smooth and slick on the surface, but underneath there was a catalogue of nerves and mishaps just waiting to throw the whole thing off the rails.
Take for example, that the Embassy staff had to purchase whole new platters of party food just hours before the event started, that the Ambassador had to return to Iceland on urgent business, that ÍRiS had lost her voice completely not three days previously or that I was so nervous I couldn’t eat. Oh, and someone wanted to bring a dog.
In practice though, everything went just fine. I was in the capable hands of the embassy staff, and especially Eyrún Hafsteindóttir. The Icelanders took over. If there was a problem, it was fixed, and super-efficiently. Waiters had been hired, and even people to meet and greet had been arranged.
ÍRiS arrived and was wonderful, dishing out tips on performing to me whilst simultaneously setting up equipment. She sound checked, and sounded just amazing. Something in her arrangements, in her voice, just sounded like a slice of Iceland. I had a performance all of my own.
Guests, and dog, started to arrive. I found myself tossed around the room, from conversation to conversation, trying to thank and speak to everyone, but probably failing at both.
Axel Nikulasson, the Deputy Head of Mission at Ministry for Foreign Affairs, to give him his full title, started proceeding with a rousing and exceedingly kind speech. He had taken the time to read the book, and this showed. He quoted passages from Iceland, Defrosted (Eurovision!) and even called me an ‘Icelander in training’.
It was my turn next, and I nervously gabbled through my speech, picking up occasional laughs (intentional, of course), and gaining a round of applause on reading an excerpt. I forget to thank my Kickstarter backers, and my Twitter / Facebook crew, most of whom have travelled miles to be here. I hope that they can forgive me, and reassure myself that by launch number 3, I’ll be word perfect.
ÍRiS, though, stole the show. Using piano, loops, the occasional instrument and that voice, she weaves her magic through the audience, capturing each one of us. She performed five pieces, each specially arranged for the evenings performance. I felt my nerves slipping away. This may or may not have coincided with my first glass of wine.
Quentin Bates, my expert proof-reader and esteemed crime writer was in attendance, still offering support and guidance, and a copy of his latest book for me too. The man is too kind.
Guests started to leave, hopefully full of food, drink and with Iceland in their thoughts. There were certainly a number of happy faces, and books tucked under arms.
I am so grateful for everyone for turning up, especially as I am an unknown author, and as Holly Willoughby was signing her new book in the nearby Harrods store. I can’t complete with the Willoughby!
The morning after, I returned to the Embassy to help tidy up and express my thanks for a wonderful event. There was fresh coffee and muffins waiting for me. I got stuck in. I’m an Icelander in training after all.
Further launches of Iceland, Defrosted:
Saturday 29th June – Reykjavík, Iceland
Wednesday 3rd July – Much Wenlock, Shropshire