It's been one hell of a busy week though. Actually a busy week and a half if I'm talking about things I haven't actually blogged about.
First was the RNA Awards lunch last Tuesday. I wasn't planning on going as I haven't actually got round to joining up yet (bad Calistro) but the lovely Liz Fenwick told me she had a spare ticket and asked whether I'd like to buy it. It would be a great insight into the RNA she said and besides, my agent was going! After thinking about it for all of 30 seconds I bit her hand off! The life of a writer is about as far from glamorous as it gets (you should see the state of my bedroom/study!) and I couldn't resist the idea of a 3 course meal in a fancy hotel in London and an awards ceremony.
I wasn't disappointed. The venue was absolutely crammed with writers of all ages dressed up in their finery and I was temporarily hit by an "Aaaaggh, I don't know anyone!" feeling as I walked in. Luckily Liz, looking gorgeous in a black dress and orange jacket, was at the bar so I hurried up to her. She immediately introduced me to lots of fellow writers and we went for a mingle. It wasn't long before Debs spotted me and came over to say hello. She looked gorgeous too and we were mid chat when my editor came over and asked if she could borrow me (I hadn't realised my publishers were there!). I was then introduced to the PR & Marketing team and had a long discussion with the Director about his plans for my book - including some quizzes and fun stuff on the publisher's website when my book comes out. All really exciting stuff.
Midway through that conversation I spotted my agent and someone announced it was time for lunch so off we went into the main dining room. Oooh it was gorgeous! Beautiful black and red feathery candelabra decorations in the middle of each table and lots of shiny cutlery and about four wine glasses at each place setting. Here's a fairly rubbish camera phone pic I took of mine!
On the menu was:
Starter: Scottish Salmon Parfait with Tuna Tartar and Creme Fraiche Caviar
Main: Fillet of Chicken filled with a Paris Mushroom Mousse, Marsala Cream Sauce, Marquis Potatoes and Sugar Snap Peas
Dessert: Bitter Lemon Tart with Creme Fraiche Sorbet and Raspberry Jelly
It really was gorgeous food although I probably didn't appreciated it as much as I should have as I talked pretty much all the way through the meal! First to the writer on my right (who was doing a PhD in Creative Writing), her friend (who runs a self-publishing website for writers) and then to my agent and Liz who were sitting to my left.
When the meal ended it was time for the awards. Unfortunately Peter Bowles (who was due to make the presentations) was too ill to appear but the stand-in MC did a fine job. India Grey won the award for the Romance Prize 2009 for her novel "Mistress: Hired for the Billionaire's Pleasure" and Julia Gregson won the Romantic Novel of the Year 2009 for her novel "East of the Sun". Julia, who I didn't get to meet, has the same publisher as me so that was particularly exciting!
After the awards people mingled a bit and I got to meet two lovely authors who are also with my agency and then Liz suggested we go off to the pub. I didn't have to be asked twice! We went off to the pub across the road and I got to meet the very friendly and welcoming Katie Fforde (I was a bit star struck!) and writer-extraordinaire Julie Cohen who, along with prolific Mills and Boon author Fiona Harper gave me lots of useful advice about beating second novel syndrome! I stayed for a couple of glasses of wine and then made my excuses as I had work the next morning!
Last night it was my publisher's author party. I've been hugely excited about it for AGES and even dropped out of a holiday so I could attend. It didn't disappoint! It was held in the Victoria and Albert museum in London and I was instantly wowed by the circular champagne bar that had been set up in the middle of the room and the amazing glass sculpture that hung from the ceiling above it.
I'd only just stepped into the room with my agent when my editor spotted me and asked for me to pose for photos with a fellow author whose name I instantly forgot (pretty much the theme of the evening!). We then had to have individual profile photos taken which was horribly cringe-worthy (I hate having my photo taken!) but over quite quickly!
Agent and I then wandered round and she introduced me to loads of people including publishing scouts and other agents (isn't it ironic that, when you're unpublished you'd give anything to be introduced to a roomful of agents, but when you've got a publishing contract you can't move without knocking into one!). I also spotted lots of people from my publishers who I've met before so stopped to chat to them about their jobs and the processes involved in getting a book published.
As if by magic, every time my glass of champagne started to look even the slightest bit empty, a member of the V&A staff would appear by my side and pour some more in. As a result I haven't got the slightest clue how much I drunk but it was a lot! Luckily there were also canapes available so I tried to soak up some of the alcohol with mini mushroom tarts, little sausages with dips and diddy treacle tarts. After starting the night by putting my badge on upside down (luckily my agent spotted the error before I walked in!) and then dropping my ticket on the floor and trying and failing to pick it up for a good minute or so (I'd had my first ever set of acrylic nails fitted specially for the party and they don't work like normal nails!) I think I avoided making too much of a tit of myself and didn't, I hope, say anything too stupid to anyone!
Highlights of last night include spending time with Kate Harrison, Meg Sanders and Veronica Henry, rubbing shoulders (literally) with Michael Palin who was standing right beside me at one point (I was too chicken to interrupt his conversation to say "hello, I love you"!) , hearing the design department's ideas for my book cover (so close to my ideal cover it was freaky!) and the news that my agent has got me another foreign deal - this time with Hungary!
The party ended at about 9pm (we'd pretty much drunk the bar dry by that point) and a few of us went on to a local bar to share a bottle of wine. At about 10.30pm I shared a taxi to the station with Kate Harrison and sprinted across the platform to catch my train.
Lots of people told me last night that such glamorous events are becoming increasingly rare in the publishing industry (particularly in the current economic climate) so I made sure I enjoyed every single last second. I can't even begin to explain how surreal it felt to be in the midst of a world I've so longed to be part of, and how I had to keep mentally pinching myself that it really was real. If it weren't for the hangover I'd be walking on air today!