So, I’m sorry for making people cry yesterday. Hopefully, they were good tears because the Hound is better and the story had the happiest of endings. I turned my shit around. I submitted the first 1000 words of Souper Mum to a competition, they got back to me a few months later saying they loved it and that it had placed second. I remember that email very well. Cue the happy dancing.
After that it was a whirlwind of good that came sweeping in. One of the lovely editors, Cat, at Accent asked to see the whole manuscript and anything else I’d written. I went down into the vaults and dusted off some manuscripts. I sent them over with all extremities crossed but given all that had come to pass over the past decade, I retained a healthy dose of pessimism to prepare myself for, ‘we love it…but…’ Then we went to Holland. Center Parcs. Remember with all the swimming and the naked TV shows? My phone rang. It was Cat. She’d just come out of a meeting. They’re signing Souper Mum, its sequel and the first novel I ever wrote, I See You Baby. How does that sound? Cue more happy dancing.
And that was how it all happened. I got a release date for the following year. We changed the book’s original title (read about that here) and I edited and proofed like my life depended on it, usually through the night, with tea and whole packets of biscuits. Souper Mum, she’s 82% chocolate covered Malted Milk, I’ll have you know.
And now we’re a week away from launching her into the great unknown which leads me to today’s blog: The Book Launch. I remember when we first spoke about a book launch at home. The idea was a bit cringey. I had visions of me in an empty shopping centre, sat at a folding table with piles of my books, waiting for someone to approach me while I drank all the champagne. On my own. Please buy my book, please. I’d never been to a book launch before and like most people, the only one I’d ever seen was the one in Sex and the City when Carrie’s book got itself a fancy New York shindig (Season 5, Episode 5: Plus One is the Loneliest Number).
For research’s sake, I watched that episode the other day. I can confirm that at my book launch, there will not be the following: shrimp, waiters, press, Cosmopolitans, Sarah Jessica Parker, anyone called Jack Berger, the author’s outfit will most likely be from ASOS with New Look shoes in case you were wondering. I would like to dissuade anyone from having a chemical peel the day before the launch. There will be no limos and most likely I will be transported there in our Honda which will also be carrying the glass hire and twenty odd bags of savoury nibbles.
Because we’ve upgraded from the folding table to a room that we’re hiring for about £30 an hour. I’ve road-tested all the best supermarket Proseccos for under a tenner, I’ve asked Kono (the sister) to make some cupcakes (read this to know why this was a good idea) and my mum, sister and I have had the following conversation:
Me: Surely, we should serve soup?
Me: In shot glasses?
Kono: What, like Cream of Mushroom?
Mum: No. There will be no soup.
Which takes me onto my mum. Given everyone else has a nickname on this blog, it’s kind of right to give her a TV themed moniker. Let me tell you about my mum: she’s the original tiger mother, protective, cool and just downright fierce. She can come over to my house and within minutes, the bed sheets have been changed, a roast dinner is on and she’s looking inquisitively at my eyebrows asking me why I’ve decided to adopt this strange Frida Kahlo look. The lady has standards, she’s efficient and organised, always there when I need her, most importantly, she can cook. Like a boss, as Jon Snow would say. So I know she’ll love this, she’s the Barefoot Contessa. The Contessa for short.
Me and the Contessa.
Anyways, the Contessa didn’t want soup. Soup was a bad idea. So was my idea of serving little bits of fish finger cut up with cocktail sticks and a bowl of salt and vinegar twirls in the corner. If people are coming, they have to eat and there was no way the Contessa was going to stand at a party and let people go hungry. This is a very alien idea to her.
Contessa: I got this.
Me: Can we have savoury eggs?
Kono: Can we make bunting with your face on?
So what started as a folding table with some books is now a full-on shindig. Today, I’m going up in the loft to dig out the fairy lights and I’m sorting out a playlist that will allow for conversation but some light swaying if people are so inclined to have a little dance. I have recently heard the school mums are organising minibuses to transport them to the venue so this makes me more inclined to buy in a few (dozen) more bottles of Prosecco (you know I joke, but I’ve seen how you ladies drink at Christmas dos). To make this whole thing less about me and to put something back into the universe, I’m going to do a prize draw on the evening with all proceeds going to Maternity Worldwide, a charity that helps provide maternal care in low income countries. I’m not sure what the prizes are yet but there will be a tin of soup up for grabs. I've also ordered bookmarks. Everyone loves a bookmark.
And so now, I’m slightly cacking it. What if no one comes? What if we run out of alcohol? What if they don’t like the book? Surely, I’m also just eating into my book’s profits here? All eyes will be on me. Little ol’ me….*does small sick.* But then again, it’s also a party. Who doesn't love a party? And it's a party for the best reason ever. At the end of the book launch episode of SATC, Carrie gets in her limo:
Limo Driver: So, what was the party for?
Carrie: Me. I have a book coming out…
Limo Driver: You wrote a book?
Carrie: It’s just a collection of…yes, I wrote a book…
Limo Driver: That’s amazing! Congratulations!
Carrie: Thank you…
Of course, I won’t have a limo waiting outside. It’ll still be the Honda, the glass hire will still be in the boot, along with a few dozen black bags of rubbish and my fairy lights all in a tangle. I’ll most likely be legless, Ned may have to carry me into the house. Most likely, the conversation will go as follows:
Me: (drunk) I fucking love you…do you think it went OK?
Ned: (designated driver, sober) I think I may have put my back out carrying you in... Jesus, woman. How many people did the Contessa think was coming? We’ll be dining off those sausage rolls for weeks...
Me: I wrote a fucking book…
Ned: That you did. Keep your voice down or you’ll wake the baby…
Me: (tearful) I actually wrote a book…
Ned: Yep. Now take out your contacts before you pass out…
Me: (silence, passed out)...