Arguably the coolest thing I’ve done so far as an author was attend the Bologna Book Fair in Italy this April. In case you aren’t familiar with it, the Bologna Book Fair is the biggest children’s book fair globally. Publishers come from all over the world to learn about one another’s books, decide what translation rights to acquire, negotiate deals—and of course eat lots of gelato!
I was lucky enough to attend with Rights People, the London-based agency that has sold The Thousandth Floor for me in 24 languages! (The full list: Arabic, Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, UK, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Brazil, Portugal, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish. So cool!)
The first morning, I explored the fair itself, which was both incredible and overwhelming! Thousands of people were streaming through Bologna’s enormous convention center, running into old friends, hurrying off to have a business meeting over a croissant and an espresso. I just wandered around the stalls, looking at the gorgeous new books from each publisher. It continues to inspire me that so many people all over the world are passionate about children’s literature. And because we all love and have read the same books (ahem Harry Potter!), even when we didn’t speak the same language, it felt like we could communicate—just by gesturing and pointing to covers and saying the names of characters. I love that, the universal language of books, and I’m so honored to be a very small part of it.
Later that evening was the true highlight of the trip: a dinner with all my foreign publishers, downstairs in the wine cellar of an incredible restaurant called Trattoria Antica Romagnola. The whole evening felt like a dream—the crystal chandeliers overhead, the light shining on all the dusty old wine bottles stacked along the walls, and all the incredible publishers who’d traveled far and wide to celebrate The Thousandth Floor! As the night wore on and we worked our way through ravioli and thousand-layer lasagna (I mean, I do love anything with a thousand levels ☺) and lamb and tiramisu, I got to know all the international editors of The Thousandth Floor a little bit better. I chatted about Poland with Agnieszka and German holiday markets with Iris and Rylin’s trip to Paris with Guillaume and Benedicte. I even tried to speak a little of my rusty Spanish with Mar and Miriam from RBA! When the night was finally over and I walked through the winding cobblestone streets of Bologna back to my hotel, I couldn’t stop smiling.
As the months have gone by and all the international publishers are getting their editions ready, I have loved watching how they title the book differently in each territory, and what covers they design. I think back to that magical night, when I got to meet everyone all the way across the world in Italy, and I hope that I’ll get to see them all again someday.