In August, Gary and I went on a Viking cruise of the Baltic Sea. We chose this particular ship, the Jupiter, because it made a stop in St. Petersburg, Russia. Viking invited me to give a reading from Circus of the Queens and they also interviewed me for the ship’s TV channel. What a surreal experience it was for me to read from my novel which takes place in St. Petersburg as the ship was steaming into St. Petersburg Harbor.
Book Reading aboard the Viking Jupiter, August 2019
Interview with Audrey aboard the Viking Jupiter, August 2019
Circus of the Queens: The Fortune-Teller’s Fate has just been added to Viking Cruises’ recommended book list for its August 2019 Viking Homelands Cruise. (You might recognize Viking as the proud sponsor of such PBS series as Downton Abbey and The Crown.) I will also be giving a book reading on the same cruise near the port of St. Petersburg. In my wildest dreams I could never have imagined this a year ago!
When writing Circus of the Queens: The Fortune-Teller’s Fate, this old jazz tune came to me repeatedly and I found myself intertwining the opening of its chorus into the storyline. This is a recording of me reading the first chapter of the book and singing a portion of the song as an intro and outro, accompanied by my friend Hendrik on guitar.
Gary and I were out walking, contemplating a recent book reading we did. It was a special book reading and a Q&A of my novel Circus of the Queens: The Fortune-Teller’s Fate. What made it special was that it was arranged for a book club out on Long Island by a friend, Shelly Camens whom I spent time with and knew in high school but had not seen since I was 16.
What a modern age we live in! Not only did she find me through Facebook after so many years, but we conducted the book club reading using Zoom video conferencing software and Zoom was able to bring us together. How slick is that? It was so much fun and much more intimate then I dreamed possible.
I want to thank Rabbi Jeff Clopper and my husband Gary Welz for setting us up; Gary for his always invaluable input, and of course Shelly and her book club friends who took the time to read my novel and even more time to, thoughtfully discuss it.
December 17th last year was the official launch date to my debut novel, Circus of the Queens: The Fortune Teller’s Fate. I’ve been so proud and happy to see it out in the world. It’s truly a miracle that it happened. I wanted to thank everyone who supported this story about a Russian circus family and a once- aspiring ballerina who becomes the circus’ fortune teller. Its audience seems to be growing and it is my hope that that will continue, and that people will have the opportunity to read it and enjoy it for many years to come. It’s been more than a book to me. I believe finishing it, seeing it in print and the thought of holding it in my hands helped me get through more than a difficult time. I believe that it helped to save my life.
There have been a number of cheerful outcomes that have helped to push the book along. Many of you have helped by writing reviews, don’t stop! But know from the bottom of my heart that I thank you. With other wonderful reviews from the Santa Barbara Independent, V’roman’s, The Historical Fiction Society and Goodreads reviewer Karen Brissette, it’s helped me hop, skip and jump into writing its sequel, Circus of the Queens: The Shadow of Lillya.
Other landmark events: being chosen as book club pick of the month from Mendocino’s Gallery Bookshop, speaking at the Woodstock Library forum in Woodstock, New York, having the book purchased by the New York Public Library, to name a few. It’s proved to be a very exciting year that up until recently I could only have imagined happening.
Happy Holidays to everyone — dreams do come true and miracles can happen.
Gallery Bookshop, Mendocino was a bigger success than I dreamed possible. All of the staff are friendly and helpful, and I was terribly impressed by their sense of community. Rob, who is in charge of their events, is a special wonderful guy setting a happy tone wearing a tuxedo top hat on his head. It was easy to see why people support and love this bookstore. They seem to take a personal interest in every customer who walks through their door and have the patience to make certain these same people are satisfied with their book shopping experience when they walk back out the door. Hooray great independent book store that makes it easy to see the added care and interest you get when shopping there.
Circus of The Queens: The Fortune-Teller’s Fate greeted us and helped to welcome everyone who entered the store. Placed on their first display table, it was surrounded by Pulitzer Prize winning novels and other great books. I had to pinch myself, seeing it in such company!
Their staff shared with us how the book has been extremely popular and that they had been selling quite a few copies. They live streamed my reading and talk to 30 additional people. This was a first for me and I believe from the response of those in attendance and how many of them walked away with books in their hands, that I did well!
We loved being there and I can’t stop talking about what a happy experience it was for me. Thank you, Mendocino and Gallery Bookshop for making us feel so at home and for sharing your wonderful spirit so I could take a bit of it home with me. I hope you enjoyed our visit and I look forward to seeing you again when The Shadow of Lillya is complete!
This has been a very special year! For one, I am here and have gotten to participate in many special occasions with family and friends. It has also been the year of Circus of the Queens: The Fortune-Teller’s Fate and the one when I became a debut published author. Last year at this time “Circus” was a dream that lived in my computer and my head.
I can’t begin to describe the thrill Gary and I had when the box from my publisher arrived at our door and inside it was my beloved novel printed to perfection with its beautiful cover and all my words, over 116,000 of them each one, hand-picked, staring back at me so thoughtfully laid out in its interior. The Santa Barbara Independent wrote,”Circus of the Queens is a sweet, satisfying tale of one woman’s determination, heart, and love.” The critic was describing my book, but I realized he could have so easily been describing myself.
Writing it and having it published has brought about much excitement and joy and one surprise after another. Thanks to each of you who have purchased it, read it, written a review, passed it on to friends and family, made it your book club pick, or helped it come to life in any way. And to those of you who have any part of the above on your list of to do’s, today is a very good day to do it!
A special thank you to my sister Laura, whose birthday is on the 23rd of May, Dianne Athey, Dove Govrin, and my husband, Gary Welz. Without your help and love, there would be no Circus of the Queens books.
Audrey’s publisher is Rare Bird Books, a Vireo Imprint out of LA. She goes by the pen name Audrey Berger Welz.