Lift Off! I Belong to No One, by Gwen Wilson, is officially launched!

The joint was hopping on Sunday, 12th July 2015,  for the launch celebration of I Belong to No One. I had been so lost in planning and organising, that I had not left any time to daydream about how it might actually look. It wouldn’t have mattered if I had, as there was no way I could have envisaged just how successfully it took off!

The morning kicked off with setting up the community lounge and last minute grocery shopping, and before I knew it, the assembly line of sandwich makers and cake cutters were knocking at my front door. Thank you ladies – you know who you are – without your efficient help the 160 attendees would have left very hungry. Also to the great men who manned the bar – we may have had a riot on our hands if the guests who had braved the cold and windy conditions did not have a welcome drink pressed into their hands on arrival.

All hail to independent bookshops – may they live long and prosper! The wonderful people at DeanSwift Books of Nowra demonstrated a huge leap of faith in me by bringing along 120 copies of I Belong to No One. 

The calm before the storm - at the launch of I Belong to No One, photo courtesy of Andrew Gray

The calm before the storm – at the launch of I Belong to No One, photo courtesy of Andrew Gray

The Master of Ceremonies, (who often doubles as my husband, Bill), had the guests seated just about on time, which was a feat in itself . . .

MC Extraordinaire, Bill Wilson, at launch of I Belong to No One, photo courtesy Andrew Gray

MC Extraordinaire, Bill Wilson, photo courtesy Andrew Gray

The support crowd for the launch of I Belong to No One, Wollongong, NSW, Sunday 12th July 2015, photo courtesy of Andrew Gray

The support crowd for the launch of I Belong to No One, Wollongong, NSW, Sunday 12th July 2015, photo courtesy of Andrew Gray

The Lord Mayor of Wollongong, Gordon Bradbery,  gave an impromptu, touching and entertaining opening speech:

Lord Mayor of Wollongong, Gordon Bradbery, speaking at launch of I Belong to No One, photo courtesy Andrew Gray

Lord Mayor of Wollongong, Gordon Bradbery, photo courtesy Andrew Gray

Lilly Hawkins, speaking at launch of I Belong to No One, photo courtesy Andrew Gray

Lilly Hawkins, speaking at launch of I Belong to No One, photo courtesy Andrew Gray

Then on to Lilly Hawkins, introduced by Bill with these words  . . . “As well as being an editor, Lilly has taught academic and creative writing in Australia, and is now teaching at Universities and Colleges in the United States. Lilly and Gwen lived at Guildford and met in infant’s school at age 6. They have known each other for more than 50 years. Lilly ran off to the US 15 years ago and has made the journey to Australia to be with us today for the launch of Gwen’s book.”

To which Lilly opened with that she had not just come in from anywhere in the States, but from Dallas, Texas. She may have gone on to say that it may be the best state in the USA, or I may have just made that part up 🙂 One thing is for sure, my USA followers, she loves her life in the States too much to be coming back to live in OZ anytime soon 🙂

 

Next up was friend, neighbour and (unpaid) editor, Helen Harrison (Woolcott) who “was born and raised in the Illawarra and has lived at the Links Seaside for over five years. As a mature age student, in her early 50’s, Helen graduated from Macquarie University with a Bachelor of Arts and a Diploma of Education, majoring in English and History. Having held a variety of jobs in the publishing industry, Helen finished her working career as the Australian Sales Manager and Christian Books Editor of Hodder and Stoughton, UK.”

Helen was holding my FIRST book, a novel, written in 1967, the last year of primary school. I had begged all my speakers to keep me in the dark about what they were going to say, and Helen delighted by pointing out that my use of superlatives was born at a very early age. By the time we had finished with I Belong to No One, Helen and I had developed a short-hand way of speaking. If she emailed back a comment saying, “Gwen, you have gone all Jane Austen again – then I knew that she was telling me, in the nicest possible way, to stop “doffing caps” and just “take our hats off!”. She was particularly challenged by my use of the word “roiling”, but eventually conceded that a word which could be defined in many ways, including “mixing – as in cement” could be used in the sense I was conveying (naive authors 1, editors 0 🙂 ). – Actually, that is a joke, Helen was extremely aware of the dangers of mixing friendship and editorial advice – (which reminds me of a very wise old saying – “before borrowing money from a friend – decide which you need more.”)

Of course, I am summarising what Helen had to say, and some were particularly taken with the idea that we can see the lights on in each other’s apartments, and we are both night owls, so there were many occasions when emails flew back and forth well after midnight. Helen is in the process of compiling them, and is considering publishing a Wollongong version of 84 Charing Cross Road .

Helen brought tears to my eyes when she paralleled my life’s journey with Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken, . . . “I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.

Most of all, though, for me, was the appreciation of Helen’s sensitivity to my work, best expressed in her opening quote from Yeats  . . . “tread softly, for you tread on my dreams“.

. . . Ohh, getting a little teary again just in the proof-reading. This is a VERY LONG blog post, and I really should break it in two, but just in case I get side-tracked with other things, I will push on . . .

The keynote speaker was Professor Ian Brown, who was: amusing, insightful, relevant, thought-provoking, – and that is before I start using superlatives . . .

Professor Ian Brown, speaking at launch of I Belong to No One, photo courtesy Andrew Gray

Professor Ian Brown, speaking at launch of I Belong to No One, photo courtesy Andrew Gray

He had so much to say, too much to repeat here, however, he came along with three story board interpretations of the front cover of my book, the kind of thing you see when someone endorses a book cover with a testimonial. I will give you all the headline without the explanatory background (mmmm . . . there’s a thought for a book give-away . . .  to the closest guess of what he said next 🙂 )

1. Gwen Wilson and I have so much in common  . . .  overnight our private lives became public  . . . Hillary Clinton.

2. Men can be real bastards. . . . it takes guts to stand up and tell people . . . Julia Gillard, former PM (Australia).

3. Education is a human right with immense power to transform  . . . I Belong to No One demonstrates this power . . . Kofi Annan UN.

Then the moment everyone was waiting for. The absolute headline act, who had been so busy in the weeks leading to this moment, that she arrived “speechless”.  As in  . . . speech  . . . less. 

Thanks though, to my alter-ego wearing the new glasses that were a cross between Dame Edna Everage and Jenny Kee, I pulled that off, with a couple of readings from I Belong to No One. Then it was a rush to the signing table and everything after that is just a blur  . . .

Gwen Wilson, speaking at launch of I Belong to No One, photo courtesy Andrew Gray

Gwen Wilson, speaking at launch of I Belong to No One, photo courtesy Andrew Gray

Some of the following photos feature my Italian family, and if you wish to work out where they fit in, well,  . . . I guess you will just have to read the book 🙂 More on my web-site, which is now up and running at www.gwenwilson.com.au

With Friend and Fellow Writer Christine

With Friend and Fellow Writer Christine

The author with her"kid" brother

The author with her”kid” brother

Gwen Wilson and Grandchildren at I Belong to No One Launch July 2015

Gwen Wilson, stepmum, and (half)sister at I Belong to No One Launch July 2015

Tracey_Gwen_Jason WILSON at I Belong to No One book launch July 12th 2015

Gwen Wilson with (stunning!) niece and nephew at launch of I Belong to No One

With my former work colleagues from my past life as a corporate manager. Photo courtesy: Andrew Grey

With my former work colleagues from my past life as a corporate manager.
Photo courtesy: Andrew Grey

Photo courtesy: Andrew Grey

Photo courtesy: Andrew Grey

NOTE TO SELF: Get a chin tuck!

35 thoughts on “Lift Off! I Belong to No One, by Gwen Wilson, is officially launched!

  1. Pingback: Filming “The Good Life” IRT Internet News & Lifestyle Programme | The Reluctant Retiree

  2. I’m so glad the launch went well Gwen. It looks so exciting. Well done you, I am very, very impressed…and yes, I will be telling people that I know a famous author 🙂
    Blanche

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Gwen, Just back from Dubbo. Wow, after reading this it looks like everything I had hoped for you. Enjoy every minute. Haven’t been into a book store yet but will soon.

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  4. You look absolutely fabulous! (no tuck needed! !!) I read every word of this delightful post and could almost imagine I was there celebrating. I am so thrilled for you. Congratulations on your new book, the journey you took to arrive at this place, and the well deserved celebration. I will continue to follow along and definitely be looking forward to reading your book.

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  5. Looks and sounds a great launch, Gwen! So lovely to see support from your family and friends and put a face to your editor. I doff my cap to the pair of you and hope the sales rack up. Those red glasses – great choice.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Another joyous and memorable event! It must have been lovely sharing your accomplishment with so many loving and supportive people. On a separate note – not sure about Texas (??!!) being the best state :o).

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    • I’m just the messenger, Sue, I have never been to mainland USA and I would have to spend time in each state before I could decide 🙂 but she loves it – so I will take her word for it. Personally, the areas around New England look appealing to me at this distance 🙂 The launch was a fabulous and exciting day – a true culmination of all the effort of writing.

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      • Sent that too fast. I’m happy for you and know you worked very hard on the book. I’m in the process of getting a South Africa retirement visa. Lived there in the late 1980s and have visited often since then. Cape Town stole my heart. Not sure if I will keep my place in Oregon – probably a year or so there will hp with the decision.j

        Liked by 1 person

        • I am guessing that you have been away from home so often and for such long periods in recent years that in a sense you have been separating yourself from Oregon for a while – so why not go off and have another adventure? South Africa is another place I haven’t visited – gosh, still so much to see and do!

          Liked by 1 person

  7. What an event! A great celebration of your achievement as it should have been. Will check out Amazon for the book and look forward to the North American tour. On a more trivial level – love the specs!

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