Day Two: I love the smell of paper in the morning

The fire alarm went off today in the Guildhall Library.

While I was there.

Reading about the Great Fire.

Other than that, my day was not the sort that makes for an exciting story. It was a satisfying day — don’t get me wrong. But a quiet one.

It started off with a scouting trip to the library, prior to my appointment at the Museum of London, where the curator of their Great Fire exhibit was kind enough to let me deluge her with questions. Then back to the library, with only an excuse for lunch to sustain me, because I wanted all the time I could get there.

It was enough to make a geek’s heart spontaneously combust. (Maybe that was what set off the alarm . . . .) For those not aware, the Guildhall has been the center of government for the City of London for centuries. Their library has all the historical documents you can shake a stick at, and then several sticks’ worth more. I was drooling over the books — well, not literally, since everything I looked at was a Closed Access book where I had to fill out request slips and sign a register and show photo ID and then sit at an assigned table while they brought things out to me, and I could only take notes in pencil, for the safety of the books. But psychologically, I was drooling, as the scent of seventeenth-century paper wafted up with every turn of a soft, crumbling page.

It sounds melodramatic when I spell it out that way, but it’s no exaggeration. They’d been rebound, sure, but I was handling historical artifacts printed in 1666.

So that was pretty exciting, I suppose.

But that was the whole of my morning and afternoon. This post would end here, except that for once I had an evening, too, other than sitting around the hostel. Before the end of business hours, I went to the UK offices of Orbit, which are so conveniently placed that with a good arm and no buildings in the way, I might be able to throw something through their windows from here.

I met people I’ve been e-mailing for a while now, which is always nice, and I did a slew of things that made me grin and feel like a Real Author ™. Like signing stacks and stacks of books (approximately fifty volumes in total) for them to use promotionally. Like conducting a brief phone interview with an SF magazine.

Like seeing the Midnight Never Come website.

No, I’m not telling you. ^_^ Except to say it’s awesome. I’d provide you with a street date for it if I could, but it’s getting a soft launch; it’ll go live when they’re done with it, which will be some time between now and when the book comes out in the U.S. Then, a week or so after that, they will launch the little game/contest woven into the site, which I wrote stuff for the other week. I have no idea what the prizes will be, but the contest sounds fun!

Anyway, last night was not enough sleep, so I think I’ll call it quits with this brief report. Tomorrow will be museum adventures, and maybe some more hunting of obscure bits of architecture, energy willing.

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