It's no secret that writing In the Shadow of an Elephant was an emotionally charged experience for me. Allowing raw emotion to flow onto the page is as cathartic as it is confronting. Not only was I working through the grief of losing my mother, but I also wanted to offer a legacy to the girl who had endured her own tragic loss and had been triumphant in her survival – Lualani.
In the Shadow of an Elephant is a gentle story about sorrow and determination; of friendship between boy and elephant set on the African Savanna. Through life's challenges, they embrace the joys of dancing in the shadow of an elephant.
Little Pink Dog Books did a fantastic job marrying Sandra's illustrations to my text. I am proud beyond words, how this story, a celebration of life, turned out. Running my hands over the pages as I read the text still brings a tear to my eye.
I knew the launch had to be just as unique and what better way to celebrate the birth of a new book, than at a writers' festival.
There was only ever one person I had in mind to launch In the Shadow of an Elephant; Jacqueline Harvey.
I remember asking Jacquie to launch the book not long after it was contracted to Little Pink Dog Books. Jacquie, with a tear in her eye gave me the biggest hug and a warm and enthusiastic, YES.
I sought the help of my daughter, Charlotte, to assist with visuals for the launch. Charlotte had already created an incredible YouTube trailer.
No stranger to organising small 'get-togethers' 😉, I thought the launch would nestle nicely into the middle of the festival.
On 6 April surrounded by my writing family and friends, In the Shadow of an Elephant was launched by Jacqueline Harvey. Peter and Kathy Creamer from Little Pink Dog Books were also there to celebrate.
Jacqueline's opening line brought a tear to my eye - 'What can I say about Georgie? She is a dynamo...'
Her speech was flattering and was delivered with warmth. I learned that our journeys had followed similar paths in our early careers. It gave me a twinkling of hope that maybe I could follow on in Jacqueline's footsteps. Wouldn't that be amazing!
Jacqueline advised the audience to have their tissues close: In the Shadow of An Elephant is a story of love and loss, of trust and hope, of navigating pathways through grief. I imagine that it will be a book shared in classes and between parents and children which will lead to many discussions; about poachers and the environment, about love and loss and what happens when someone or something you love dies.
I particularly love the lines:
'Summer haze melted into winter rains. Months bled into years…'
It reminds us all that life passes so quickly.
Congratulations Georgie, I hope that In the Shadow of An Elephant is read far and wide and receives the praise it so richly deserves.
And with that incredible endorsement, In the Shadow of an Elephant was launched.
My youngest daughter, Amy, stood alongside me during my speech. Daunted with facing the 100+ crowd she chose to hide behind the book.
Charlotte blended my reading of In the Shadow of an Elephant with visuals and sound effects.
The audience didn't move throughout the reading and when the lights turned on, a sea of red eyes looked back at me. This was the ultimate compliment. To move someone in such a way is why we write.
Peter shared with the audience how the manuscript moved both he and Kathy when they first read it. He spoke of the joy of selling out before going to print and the hopes he had for it to be shared far and wide.
Kathy and I shared in the cake cutting. Pieces were shared with festival attendees during afternoon tea. I ordered a three-tier chocolate mud cake with vanilla buttercream icing and orange fondant complete with airbrushed trees and an edible Jabari and Lualani. It was delicious!
I enjoyed signing books and chatting with attendees about the book, well into lunch.
In amongst the craziness of a writers' festival, like-minded creatives came together to share in the celebration of life.