I stole the idea for this title from Elaine who was one of the bloggers who joined me at two venues two days ago, courtesy of the lovely people at Harper Collins. Or possibly HarperCollins, I’m not sure which is de rigueur. Nor am I entirely sure what de rigueur means. Let’s move on swiftly.
The two towers in question were the Oxo Tower and the Tower of London – neither of which had I been to before. I met Elaine and Claire outside the lifts to the Oxo Tower, and we went up to the top floor and the brasserie, to be greeted by some friendly folk from Harper (let’s settle on that for now – sorry Mr. Collins, I do appreciate your work) and introduced to the authors whom we were meeting. Step forward Fanny Blake and David Nobbs, both of whom were funny, charming, and great fun to chat with. Fanny Blake’s first novel What Women Want is out soon (or possibly out now) more info here – and I was fascinated by her previous career as a literary editor. I think the editor’s job is remarkable – I could read a novel and say which bits I did or didn’t like, but the ability to suggest how to reshape a novel or a character is far beyond me.
David Nobbs (famous for TV writing, as well as novels – he wrote for The Two Ronnies, Reginald Perrin, etc.) has a book out now called It Had To Be You – more info here – spot their deliberate mistake; they refer to the novel by its working title Life After Deborah(!) David is a great conversationalist, and I was mostly delighted to meet someone else who loves Stephen Leacock and Saki. In fact, both of us find that we never meet others who love Leacock (although I think he is still ‘known’ in Canada?) so we raised a glass to him.
Oh, yes, the food and drink! Cocktails were cunningly matched to trays of delicious individual desserts – photos on Talli’s blog here, Talli being another author/blogger whom I met for the first time. I also met Amanda (we discovered we knew lots of people in common, since we’d both been library trainees at the Bodleian) and Mel, and saw Jackie again, which was lovely.
And then on to the Tower of London! Sarah Gristwood was talking about her latest book, The Girl in the Mirror – a telling of Elizabeth I and Essex. I would have been tempted to call it The Only Way of Essex, but that’s probably why I’m not a publisher. I almost never read historical fiction, but Gristwood’s talk (which was more of general historical interest than specific to her novel) was entertaining and might lead me to try it out… The canapes served afterwards included quails’ eggs, so that was another first for me. As was travelling solo in a taxi! Take this boy out of the provinces, and everything changes.
It was a great day out – always a joy and a surprise that publishers know about bloggers, and want to get us involved. Lovely to meet the authors, publishers, and other bloggers, and to do more than Essex managed: go to the Tower of London, and leave it alive.