Last night I went to my very first book launch party, because Claire King had invited me. Well, she’d invited all of Twitter, but since I’d been chatting with her for a year or so and had watched with delight as she had shared her experiences of editing her novel, The Night Rainbow, choosing the cover, and all the other stuff that had to happen before it hit the shelves, I felt almost as excited as she did.
The week before I thought I wasn’t going to make it, since I’d asked six babysitters. Each of them in turn had said no, very politely and prettily. In stepped my mother, who swooped into Hampshire from the Isle of Wight and was marvellous. I bought her a copy of The Night Rainbow as a present, and Claire signed it “to the wonderful babysitting Granny” or something similar. I wish I’d taken a picture of that now. Never underestimate the power a babysitter has over your life: it is the difference between being a hermit and getting out to talk to some grown ups once in a while.
Daunt Books was easy to find on Marylebone High Street. The window was a bit of a giveaway. I’d spent a giggly previous hour in a pub with two other Twitter friends, Emily Benet and Ben Blackman, and so we sauntered in together.
We bought our copies of The Night Rainbow on the way in from a rather dour couple in Daunt’s, who were clearly taking their jobs jolly seriously. Maybe they were just annoyed that they were stuck at the front door selling books when the sounds of a wine-fuelled party were filtering from the back of the shop.
It was a throng. There is no other word for it. I’m sure it was brimming with famous publishing people, but I’m afraid – since this was my first time – I didn’t recognise any of them. There were more Twitter friends there: Isabel Costello and Debi Alper, to whom such an event is a weekly thing and they seemed to know everyone already. If you’re as short as I am, a throng basically means your nose being pressed into someone else’s coat while you struggle to get to the table with the wine glasses.
I burrowed through, and eventually we slotted into the Brownian motion of people at glitzy gatherings: eddying slowly around the star (Claire, with her pen, signing books as if she’d been doing it all her life) and fetching up near her with our copies when it was our turn.
So: thank you to Claire for inviting me. The evening had a lot of laughter and some surprise invitations: to join a writing group, to do an editing course, and to have my radio sitcom pilot read through to see if people laugh in the right places. Just goes to show if you hang around interesting people, interesting things happen. I hope The Night Rainbow is a best-seller (it’s published by Bloomsbury). I read it last week and recommend it hugely. Claire is not paying me to say that.
If you’d like to read a review of it, Isabel Costello posted one on her book blog recently, together with an interview with Claire.