It’s been a while since I enjoyed the full-on delights of a big book tour. There was Brazil in 2011, and a big post-Python At The O2 tour for my diaries in 2014, but since then I’ve been acting and writing rather than selling. This is the crunch time for any venture, the time when you leave the cosy comforts of pre-publication expectations behind and face the verdict from the public.
So far, so good. Erebus was officially available in the bookstores from Thursday September 20th. I was in the car crossing the border into Scotland on Tuesday 25th when I heard the news that we had sold enough to make the top ten in the Sunday Times Best-Seller list. I had a feeling from the reception in Harrogate and Newcastle that a lot of people were interested, and most of them were enthusiastic. The talk at St Boswells in the Scottish Borders went well and the terrific response from sell-out audiences in Falmouth, Dartmouth and at the Appledore Festival in North Devon, justified our Erebus-like course from the north to the far south in a single week.
A bat joined me on stage in Dartmouth. I was looking down and didn’t see it. The audience saw it and laughed. I looked up thinking I’d done something funny, but I hadn’t. At Falmouth I addressed the congregation from a pulpit and remembered that for a few months between wanting to be a test pilot and an explorer, I’d toyed with being a vicar. Captive audience, that sort of thing.
All in all, it couldn’t have been a better first week. Great oysters at Rick Stein’s in Falmouth, discovering one of the great pubs of Britain- The Rat Inn near Corbridge, playing the Tyne Theatre in Newcastle which was opened only twenty years after Erebus disappeared into the ice.
I was working so hard I missed seeing both episodes of my North Korea journey, but heck, I didn’t expect to be still standing unaided at 75!
And there’s another week to go in the UK and Ireland, and then off to the USA and Canada. The North Korea documentary will have gone out in America on September 30th. Will I be allowed into the country? Watch this space.