Friday, 23 October 2009

My, ever-so-slightly delayed, publication lunch with my publishers

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.


Debs said...

Thanks so much for posting about your lunch, it sounds fabulous.

Love those flowers, and can completely understand why you'd feel the need to want to take the plate of chocs and lovely message home with you.x

DJ Kirkby said...

Oh Cally, this made me feel all teary with excitement on your behalf. Congratulations again!

Tam said...

Gosh, how fabulous and I would have been utterly cowed at such a posh place :-) And I have to reprogram my brain for the second kiss whenever I meet my agent!

Gosh, it's all too wonderful for words and despite the lunches and parties being thin on the ground they are great when they happen.

CC Devine said...

How much fun was that? Amazing views from up there. And what a lovely touch the choccies and flowers were. Such an exciting time for you! Savour every moment.

Effie said...

Wow! Brilliant!
Hahaha - still in fits laughing - you write it up so well.
Well done.
How can I purchase a signed copy?

Lost Wanderer said...

Oooh I love the desert :)

Lis Garrett said...

Oh my! This post gave me quiet a few chuckles. :-)

I would have been entirely out of my element. I'm more suited to McDonald's, I think!

Leigh said...

I'm sitting here, hand on mouth, agog with delight about your lovely day! I'm surprised you had any mascara left - and if you had, you're a whole lot cooler than you make out in this post!


Karen said...

So exciting! Sounds like the start of a lovely relationship to me :o)

Marsha Moore said...

That is my dream lunch! Thanks for letting me live it!

Samantha Tonge said...

Thanks so much for sharing that and taking the photos, Cally - although i am on the edge of weeping with envy:)


womagwriter said...

Wow, those chocolates!

The whole meal sounds fabulous but - the chocolates, well, wow.

Congratulations again!

Colette said...

What a fab day. The meal, the restaurant, the flowers all sound wonderful.

RKCharron said...

Hi Cally :)
Thank you for the great post & pictures. I'm glad you had such an excellent celebratory lunch. Was the waiter snarky? He seemed that way from the post. I am vicariously enthused!
Love & Best Wishes,

Anonymous said...

And here I thought you dined out like that every night in your swanky London lifestyle! Or at least every weekend anyway ;)

Imagine standing in an elevator with Smokie Robinson, he's a legend!

Calistro said...

Debs - It was just so pretty I wanted to keep it!

DJ - thank you

Tam - I think the fact they're thin on the ground makes them even more special when they do happen

CC - The views were amazing. London actually looked pretty!

Effie - Where do you live? If you buy a copy and send it to my agent (her address is on the 'contact' page of my website) saying you'd like me to sign it I'm sure we can sort something out.

Lost - It was yummy!

Lis - Funnily enough when I went out for a book publication celebration with my friends I ended the night in Burger King! ;)

Leigh - I didn't cry. V proud of myself!

Karen - I do hope so. Oh you mean with my publishers and not Mr Robinson...

Marsha - I'm so glad you enjoyed reading about it :)

Sam - Oooh no, please don't do that. You'll have your day I'm SURE of it x

Womag - They were very wow

Colette - It really was. I'm very lucky

RKCharron - He was a tiny bit. I soon forgave him when he kept re-filling my wine glass though! ;)

Xuxanna - He's an absolute legend!

DOT said...

Seems to me you had a fab time.

My biggest faux pas was when my godfather took me out to lunch at some hotel in London when I was aged 14. To be safe I ordered tomato juice as an aperitif - it came in a glass with a teaspoon to stir in the Lea & Perrings. He allowed me to sip half of the glass with the teaspoon before saying it might be easier if I drank the juice from the glass.

I still blush.

JJ Beattie said...

I'm a bit late to this...but OMG to all of that!

Tom said...

came across your blog while googling what the hell a duxelle of ceps was! I'm dining at Galvin this evening and am trying to translate the menu currently!
Good look with the book.

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