This post is about five days late. I should have written it last Saturday, a bleary-eyed morning after the night before, to report on the Friday launch party for myself and fellow debut author Naomi Foyle at the Phoenix Artist Club. The Phoenix is a wonderfully funky venue in the basement of the eponymous theatre, on the corner of Phoenix Street and the cacophony of the Charing Cross Road. As someone said at the time, it’s the kind of place where you almost wish they had made an exception to the smoking ban; it feels like it should be blanketed in a fug of aromatic combustibles, through which famous figures are dimly glimpsed in scandalous liaisons, or slouched against the bar. (But we’re glad they didn’t, because the unromantic truth is that we would have exited early, coughing and smelling like the back of a lorry.)
As it was, we had a great evening. Loads of our friends came, along with fellow authors, bloggers and industry folk; Jo Fletcher, Ian Drury and Nicola Budd held court. Stories were told, books were sold, and a great deal of wine was drunk. As usual I was very remiss about taking pictures, but my friend Iris was thankfully more diligent.
So here’s me signing and talking about Gemsigns with Cherryl:
And here’s Jon carrying the booty:
Cherryl and Jon are two of my ®Evolution Readers, the guinea pigs who let me foist the first draft upon them and thereby became alpha readers and first critics. Many of the others made it too: Anna, Alison, Joady, Rachel and Matt were all there. So were fellow authors Jaine Fenn and Snorri Kristjansson, old friends Nicole and Natalie, Jon (the other Jon) and Matt (the other Matt), and new friend Siobhan (who I met at Eastercon) along with her husband Nev. Many, many thanks to them and to everyone else who came.
So a great time was had by all, though the level of inebriation was hardly enough to explain my lateness in posting; no, that was down to heading off early the next morning to the studio of photographer Frederique Rapier, who took great shots of my brothers Storm and Nile and their New Caribbean Cinema partner Michelle Serieux when the three visited last year to screen their films at the BFI. I need better headshots than the DIY profile I’ve been using (the reason will become clear when The News I’m Not Allowed to Share is shared). Look out for a far better picture of me premiering on this blog soon (and don’t be surprised if when we meet I don’t look nearly that good in person). Then I headed into the West End to check out a piece of intel I’d gotten at the party: that Gemsigns was starting to appear on the shelves of some shops that we’d thought weren’t going to stock it. And – it is! Cue happy dancing among the stacks and snapping and tweeting. And a very late lunch and a spot of shopping, and that was it for Saturday.
Sunday was supposed to be a quick and easy train ride home to Devon, but here disaster struck; not me, I’m happy to say, but after sitting immobile on the tracks for close to an hour somewhere around Ealing, we were sent back to London with the tragic news that someone had been struck by the train a mile or two ahead of us. Generally a delay of more than two hours, with crowds of people packing out Paddington as no trains moved in or out, would result in loud and aggressive complaining and much harassment of staff; but there was none of that. Looking around I could see that we were all thinking about the person who’d been killed, and very aware that whatever inconvenience we were experiencing was nothing next to the anguish of that unknown person’s family and friends. My heart goes out to them, whoever they are.
So home very late, and appointments and grocery shopping and emails to respond to on Monday, and back to work on Binary … and a cold that came out of nowhere, grabbed me by the throat (literally – it’s one of those it-hurts-to-swallow colds) and has pretty much flattened me for the past couple of days. Work is getting done, but not at pace.
However! I’m feeling a bit better today, I’ve finished the review/rough edit of the draft so far, and have a good sense of the shape the final chapters need to take. I’ve also spotted some of the more obvious bits that need fixing, which will spare me the embarrassment of having Jo or Nicola point them out. So, late or not, things are going well and that particular finish line is in sight. Blogging may suffer a bit, but one has to prioritise …