On the road again, we just love being on the road again for this ongoing series with Macmillan’s Fierce Reads authors. This stop, we’re featuring Lailah author and proud Brit Nikki Kelly, who is on her very first book tour. Here, she shares some of her on-the-road confessions from leg waxing to her attempts to befriend TSA employees.
This year the book gods have been super good to this little Brit! First my debut novel, Lailah, was published in October, and then to add the icing on the cake, I was asked to attend the nationwide Fierce Reads Tour with Marissa Meyer, Gennifer Albin, and Jessica Brody!
As a newbie—or simply a newb, as my teenage brother would say—here are my confessions as a first-time touring author!
Confession One: I talk to myself
First, I researched. I watched YouTube videos of past tours, exchanged emails with Jessica Brody about what to expect, read blog posts from other authors for tips, and practiced answering my own made-up questions in the kitchen.
Suffice it to say, I became a sponge. I think I am a sponge, I know I am a sponge, I am… Sponge Girl!
Well, you get the idea! Now a fully chilled out sponge, I began to prepare.
Confession Two: I learned waxing hurts
First order of business: beautifying. I hadn’t left my writing cave much in the run-up to the tour and needed to look less like a disheveled hermit. Hair, nails, and yes, ladies… the dreaded wax! The less I say about that experience, the better.
For my nail design, I decided to go for both the British flags and the US flags, in order to show my love for both my homeland and my newly adopted home.
Confession Three: Forget bow ties being cool, I decided it’s all about the bowler hat
I bought a new suitcase, as my usual suitcase is stupidly big! I didn’t want to be that person whose bag wouldn’t fit into the many trunks on the road. What I did not consider was that my swag alone took up most of my suitcase space!
Luckily I had prepared a “capsule wardrobe” in the lead-up to the trip: skinny jeans, blazer jackets, shirts, sweaters, and, of course, a Doctor Who t-shirt for the Girl Geek Con stop. By far the best piece in my capsule wardrobe was my navy blue bowler hat, which served me very well throughout the entire tour.
Confession Four: I failed in an attempt to befriend a TSA agent
Now, I have never travelled alone. Even when I went to the South of France to conduct research for Lailah, my mom came with me, and there’s a very good reason why… I like to think I have a certain charm, or perhaps a more accurate term would be a comic value, however I can’t say that the security staff in airports fully appreciate my quirky ways.
This was true when I hit Dallas, and security spent nearly 20 minutes questioning my entry into the land of the free. I ended up unpacking my Lailah hardback and swag to prove that I was in fact in the country for a book tour, and I wasn’t up to any dodgy shenanigans! Again, my own fault for trying to befriend the security officer with a number of bad jokes and general Nikki-isms!
Confession Five: I learned UGG boots in Dallas = hot feet
Finally through security, I hopped in a cab and headed for the hotel. I hadn’t considered the true size of America and the varying temperatures state to state. I naturally assumed that it would be cold in fall, and arrived in a jumper, hat, scarf, and UGGs… It was  degrees in Dallas.
Now boiling to death, and quite frankly a bit sweaty, I found my hotel room, which thankfully had air conditioning!
Confession Six: I learned cupcakes and book signings don’t mix
The first stop was Irving, Texas, and, oh boy, it was a fabulous stop! We had a great interview with My Bookish Ways, and then came the panel. So many people turned out, including some of my best blogger friends who drove hours to be there.
There were posters and lights and… cupcakes! I was so ecstatic with the cupcake offering and the lovely treats that I dug in and covered myself in frosting. When you’re mid-signing there’s not really time for a bathroom break, so I had a real sticky-frosting-finger situation…
Confession Seven: I didn’t know what French toast was
So, I ordered room service in Portland. I asked for French toast (which in England means a piece of bread toasted on one side only), scrambled eggs, and some fruit. I still don’t know what this was, and I’m pretty sure it’s not meant to be teamed with eggs…
Confession Eight: I fell in love with my PR lady
Unfortunately, about halfway through the tour, I was struck down. Yes… STRUCK DOWN, with a cold virus and general nastiness. Le sigh. I had cotton wool head, a chesty cough, and I felt like death. Enter amazing, wonderful PR lady extraordinaire Mary Van Akin. Mary drugged me up on America’s finest day and night tablets and vitamin drinks, and made me pop many flu pills. She also forced me to get straight into bed after an event, forced me to order room service, and forced me to get better. Biggest lesson learned about touring: Your PR lady is a hero.
Confession Nine: I’m now obsessed with the Cheesecake Factory
When you’re travelling virtually a state a day, there really isn’t time to explore the locations beyond the drive to the hotel and where the event is being held. But, I had one wish: I wanted to go to the Cheesecake Factory, and Marissa Meyer made it so. I have no words to describe my Cheesecake Factory experience, except to say that since I returned I have investigated whether they will ship to England.
Confession Ten: I was a shameless fangirl
Before setting off for America, I had chatted with Jessica via email, Marissa and I exchanged tweets, and I’d spoken with Genn on Wattpad. Being put on a tour with such successful and talented authors was a little scary! When I met them, I had to make sure I didn’t have a fangirl moment. Genn, Marissa, and Jess rock, that’s all I really have to say about it! They took me under their wings, fed me pizza in Chicago, cheesecake in Seattle, and burritos in California! They joined me in a cuppa and a natter, and quite frankly made the trip so very special. I love these ladies!
I had so much fun on tour. The best part was meeting all the readers and bloggers, and I made sure to take MANY photos!
Thank you for having me America, it’s been bloomin’ MARVELLOUS!
You can find out what’s new with the Fierce Reads tour using #FierceReads, and let us know what you’re reading on your #YARoadTrip on Twitter.
Nikki Kelly was born and raised only minutes away from the chocolatey scent of Cadbury World in Birmingham, England. Lailah was first launched to wattpad, an online readers and writers community. Within six months, the novel had over one million reads. Lailah is Nikki’s debut novel, and the first book in The Styclar Saga. She lives in London with her husband and their dogs, Alfie (a pug) and Goose (a Chihuahua).