Robert James Talks To Bookbag About Popular: The Launch

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Richard James Talks To Bookbag About Popular: The Launch

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Summary: Jim went to the launch of Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek (A Memoir) by Maya Van Wagenen. We insisted that he tell us all about it.
Date: 27 May 2014

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I was lucky enough to be asked to represent The Bookbag at the launch a couple of weeks ago of Maya Van Wagenen’s Popular. I was especially pleased as several of my blogging friends - Caitlin, Daphne and Stacey - were going, as was Kate, who has sold me far too many books at Foyles, and it was great to be able to meet up with them there and see them undergo makeovers to get into the 1950s spirit! Sadly the queue was too long for me to get a style change of my own – sorry to everyone at The Bookbag who was hoping to see me with a quiff!

This was a serious no expense spared launch, sponsored by Glamour, and it was definitely one of the most impressive I’ve been to. As well as the free makeovers, there were gorgeous stalls, drinks and nibbles before we started – including the cutest ice-cream cones I’ve ever seen, a couple of inches tall but absolutely delicious.

As great as the makeovers and stalls were, the main reason we were all there was obviously to hear from this talented young author about her year following Betty Cornell’s 1950s teenage popularity guide. She talked to Glamour editor Jo Elvin about the book, and it was fascinating to hear more about the story behind the year. While I’ll avoid saying too much due to my usual fear of spoilers, it was clear from listening to Maya that it had made a huge impact on her. There were some very interesting questions from the audience, as well, and we were tantalised by her telling us that the deadline for the draft of her first novel is at the end of this summer, for a 2015 publication. Also at the end of the summer, the screenplay is due for Popular’s film adaptation, which sounds like it should be huge fun!

After the formal part of the evening had finished, there was the opportunity to meet Maya, who was lovely and who signed copies of Popular, to admire everyone’s makeovers, and even talk to Jo Elvin as well. (Special thanks to Jo, who not only posed with my friend Daphne for me to take a photo, but then came back and posed again for Caitlin - rather more competent with a camera than me - to take another one. Although I still maintain the first wasn’t THAT bad…)

We also had rather brilliant goodie bags, with not only Popular, which I’ve now read and enjoyed, but the new reissue of the book which inspired it, Betty Cornell’s Teenage Popularity Guide, sweets, and other things. Very classy indeed! Overall it was a fabulous event and I’d like to thank Glamour and publishers Penguin for organising it, and the Bookbag for asking me to represent them.

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