25th Trillium Award

How to Throw a Memorable Launch Party: Get the Buzz Going

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By Patricia Cote

The launch party for Jill Edmondson’s Dead Light District was held this month at The Pilot Tavern. It was a launch party unlike any other!

I’ve worked with Jill Edmondson on the release of both of her Sasha Jackson mystery novels. Jill’s books and her attitude lend themselves well to hosting a creative and unique event. The author and her audience are definitely not the “cheese cubes and little triangle sandwiches with the crusts cut off” crowd!

What made this launch and the previous one interesting is how the themes of the books were reflected in all the details of the party, and how these reflections involved many of the senses.

At the launch party for her first book, Blood and Groom, a hostess wearing a “bloodstained” wedding gown greeted guests, and handed each a promotional rose with the title of the book printed directly on the flower. Of course, since this was a wedding themed mystery, the party included a rather macabre wedding cake with the groom splayed out in (cherry pie filling) blood at the base.

For the Dead Light District launch party, the book’s themes were reflected in sounds and tastes. Because one of the central characters in Dead Light District is a Mexican hooker, the background music included songs such as Tom Waits’ "Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis" and "Roxanne" by The Police, as well as tunes by Los Lobos, Richie Valens, and several salsa hits, plus a few crime related tunes, such as Elvis Costello’s "Watching the Detectives" and the Duke Ellington theme from Anatomy of a Murder. Food and drink also had a Mexican flavour. Guests snacked on a variety of munchies, including nachos, and then shared in a tequila toast after the author was introduced.

For the visuals at the Dead Light District party, there were cocktail napkins with the book title and the date printed on them below an image of a lipstick kiss, and each guest was given a real rose emblazoned with the book cover. The Dead Light District cover was shown in many other accoutrements as well, such as on a plaque by the entrance and on a tee-shirt worn by one of the guests. In keeping with the Mexican theme, the centrepieces on tables throughout the room included — what else? Cacti. And no whodunit party is complete without yellow crime scene tape stretched out all over the room!

The numbers speak to the success of each event. Each party had approximately 100 guests, and about 100 books were sold at each event. Needless to say, Jill’s very happy with the results. If the idea of a launch party is to get people talking, then Jill’s Sasha Jackson Mysteries parties have it all figured out. I know her next mystery is centred on the fetish and S & M world... and I can’t wait to see the decorations for this one!

For more on the Dead Light District party, check out the YouTube video.

For more on Jill Edmondson and the Sasha Jackson Mysteries, see www.jilledmondson.com

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