In the guest entry I've written for tomorrow's leg of the virtual blog tour I talk about how the dream of getting published involves lots of lovely dinners, awards ceremonies and parties whereas the reality is very different.
That's still true, the dinners/awards/parties are thin on the ground but when they do happen, oh wow...
Yesterday I met up with my publishers and agent for a celebratory publication lunch. It was supposed to happen on publication day (15th October) but my agent was in Frankfurt at the time so we postponed until this week. My editor emailed me a selection of restaurants to choose from and when I saw the website for Galvin at Windows (on the 28th floor of the Hilton hotel, Park Lane) I was sold!
I arrived on time then instantly a tit of myself when the Maitre-D came up to me and said, "one of the ladies at the table already has a ticket. Would like to put it on her ticket or your own?"
"I'm not paying for lunch," I said, terrified at the thought of a huge credit card bill. "My publisher is."
"I was talking about your coat, madam. Would you like it on your ticket or the lady's?"
"My own ticket please. We might leave at different times."
I took off my coat and handed it to the Maitre-D who passed it to someone else.
"If you'd like to follow me to your table, madam," he said as he lead me into the restaurant. "And don't worry, I won't bill you for the meal."
(I felt this big).
When I got to the table my editor, my paperback editor, my publicist, my marketing manager and my agent were all waiting for me. I was the last to arrive! But wow, what a table, and what an amazing view of London from the window behind us.
(photo taken at the end of the meal after a few people had left)
Everyone greeted me warmly and I did the round of double kisses on the cheek (although I initially forgot about the second kiss and nearly had a nose collision with my editor!) and then sat down. I was really nervous at first - it doesn't matter how many times I meet my publishers I always feel overwhelmed and a bit of a fraud - but when the waiter poured us all a glass of pink champagne and we did the whole 'cheers' thing I started to relax.
And that's the moment my paperback editor decided to surprise me by handing me the most beautiful autumn bouquet of flowers! I love how they look so halloweeny. One of the flowers looks like a little pumpkin!
We talked about my book for a bit and then my agent asked me to sign her copy! She had another surprise for me - a copy of the Spanish edition of my book! - the publisher had given her a copy while she was at Frankfurt. It looked beautiful, even more pretty than the photo I found on a website a few weeks ago.
Finally we got round to ordering food.
I made another faux pas by trying to order my dessert (the waiter raised his eyebrows, "just the starter and main course, madam") and had to ask what a cep was (it's a mushroom) but finally decided on smoked potato velouté & duxelle of ceps for my starter and belly of pork with something, something (it's not on the menu today so I can't copy and paste the fancy name!).
My starter was absolutely delicious - like a potato soup (not what I was expecting) with mushrooms in the middle and when my main course arrived I was so wowed by the presentation (I've been watching a lot of Masterchef Professional - it's all about the presentation) I said to my agent, "do you think I could get away with taking a photo and posting it to Twitter?" She thought that was a great idea so I did!
I did the same thing when dessert arrived (liquorice pannacotta, tangerine jelly & brioche crouton). You can tell I don't get out much!
Just when I thought I was all surprised out for the day, this arrived with my coffee:
How lovely was that?!
Tempted as I was to put the whole thing in my bag (I have a very big bag!) and take it home I shared the chocolates around (the circular ones were gorgeous, they seemed to pop in your mouth) and left the plate on the table. As we continued to chat over wine members of our group started to leave to attend important meetings and when it got to about 3pm the waiter asked us if we wouldn't mind moving to the bar as they had to re-lay the tables for the evening sitting. We took that as our prompt to leave!
We piled into the lift along with another group of people. As it travelled downwards a lady turned to me and said, "lovely flowers, are you getting married?". I explained that I wasn't and that the flowers were because I'd just published my debut novel. My agent promptly whipped her copy out of her bag and said "this one!". The lady congratulated, me, said she'd look out for it and the lift fell silent again. I looked around the lift and vaguely recognised the black guy standing in the middle but couldn't work out where I knew him from. At roughly the same time my marketing manager tapped him on the shoulder and said, "I don't mean to bother you but I just wanted to say that I'm a huge fan of your music and you were great on the Jools Holland show the other night." The man nodded his thanks. One stop later he got off.
Everyone in the lift turned to look at the marketing manager.
"Who was that?" we chorused.
"Smokie Robinson!" she said.
What a perfect ending to a perfect lunch.