Saturday, 12 September 2009

Three celebrities, Two strangers & One fantastic day out in London

If you were in London on September 10th and saw a woman hopping about the tube with one shoe on and one shoe off that may have been me....
Let me explain further!
Last Thursday, I went down to London to meet with my agent, Hannah and my new editor, Caroline. I had arranged to meet up with Hannah outside Temple tube station which is the nearest to the Unilever building which houses the Little Brown Book group (just in case you get confused Sphere who are publishing my novel are an imprint of Little Brown.) Well unlike some women who (and I take my hat off to them, but heaven knows what it’s doing to their posture, muscle and back alignment for future years to come.) can totter around in heels all day, I sadly can’t. And so I chose to go for the comfort of trainers with my smart trousers until I got to the Embankment tube station where I planned to change my trainers over to my smarter heeled black boots.
Well when I arrived on the platform a train was just pulling out of the station, those of you that have ever travelled on the London underground before will know this usually means you have a couple of minutes at least before the next train arrives. ‘Perfect’ I thought, loads of time to change into the afore mentioned boots. Yes, you’ve guessed it, just as I got one trainer off and one boot on, another train pulled in, so I had to hop on the train holding a boot and a trainer in one hand, and wearing a boot and a trainer on either foot! Not a very elegant sight... However (and not for the first time that day) something very unusual occurred as a result. Someone actually spoke to me on a tube train! Yes, they didn’t hide behind their newspaper or bury their face in their book and pretend like there wasn’t a lunatic hopping about on the train in front of them in odd shoes, a man opposite me made comment about it, and we had a laugh and I told him where I was going.
So after I finally managed to get a matching pair of shoes on! I hopped off at the next stop (Temple) where I met up with my agent, Hannah and because we had a few minutes to spare we had a chat in a coffee shop along the way. This was lovely, you spend so much time emailing people about work matters that some real life contact with someone who has done so much for you is really lovely to have for a change.
Then we set off for the Unilever building where Little Brown’s offices are housed.
Unilever house is extremely impressive on first sight. It was originally built in 1931 but was grade II listed in 1977. It’s very open plan, very light and modern, yet it retains the feeling of the art deco building it once would have been in the 1930’s. It was very exciting to arrive in the huge foyer and look up – even though two people entering through the revolving door at once is probably not such a good idea!
It’s such a vast building we even had to have our photos taken for security passes – think bad passport picture! :-/ But even though bad photos are usually something I hate, nothing was going to spoil this day!
We rose up in the lifts to the Little Brown offices where we waited in a lounge area full of their already published books. Hannah picked up Ewan McGregor & Charley Boorman’s book – Long way down. (How exciting Ewan McGregor is published by Sphere like me!)Which is quite funny because at home my children have become quite fed up of me constantly saying "He/she/they/it are in my book." every time we see a celebrity on TV, or hear a song or see a place that’s mentioned in my novel. There’ s a lot of famous people in there as you will eventually find out... and yes Ewan McGregor is one of them!
Then we met my new editor, Caroline Hogg for the first time, and she was lovely. She took us for a quick tour around the offices, which again are very modern and open plan just like the rest of the building, and then we sat and talked about my book and it’s future plans which was fantastic! December 2010 my seem like a long time before its published, but when you hear about all the different stages it has to go through, really its no time at all. We talked about possible marketing and publicity ideas which was very exciting to hear, and ideas I have for future novels also. And then we went for lunch - appropriately at a pub called ‘Shaws Booksellers'!!
But the main thing was, I left the meeting and the lovely lunch we had that day, confident that I was putting my novel in the hands of someone that, like Hannah, loved my novel almost as much as I did. And as an author you really can’t ask for anything more. :-)
Oh and there’s more...
After my lunch (which wasn’t boozy – although I was given the opportunity for it to be!) I went back down one stop to the embankment tube station and got off and stood and looked at the London Eye for a few minutes. I think I’ve mentioned on here before what a key part the eye plays at the end of the novel and it seemed only fitting to go and pay it tribute on this most significant of days!
And then what’s a girl to do when she has a few hours to spare in London but.... go shopping of course!
And in a ‘homage’ to my own novel where Scarlett, the heroine bumps into a couple of films stars on her travels about London, who should I spot out and about on Oxford Street. Well not quite film stars, my celebs have a fashion in common rather than movies...
First Mark Hayes, GMTV’s fashion expert coming out of River Island and then diving straight into Next. I always wondered whether TV fashion expects actually bought their own items of clothing when they’re styling fashion segments or whether assistants go out and get the clothes for them, but he was definitely shopping for female clothing - with a list! And then later I saw Caryn Franklin who used to present The Clothes show many years ago, in Marks and Spencer.
And if you’re still hanging in there with me on this extremely long blog. I would just like give a shout out to the very nice chap I met on my train on the way home, who was the second stranger of the day I got into a conversation with on public transport. This time it went on a bit longer...
He heard all about my novel and where I’d been that day. Who I’d been meeting with, how long it had taken me to get published and what it all meant to me. And bless him he actually looked interested. ;-)
So to you stranger on the train, Hannah, Caroline, and for all of you reading this to the end, I say thank you.
Till the next time,
A x

Thanks to for the photos of Unilever house

Saturday, 5 September 2009

When you wish upon a star...

Well this is the entry I’ve been dying to write since I started blogging. Yes I’ve finally done it - I’m going to be a published author!

My novel From Notting Hill with Love...actually. will be published by Sphere in winter 2010 and I’m thrilled to bits!

Now if you’re the sort of person that doesn’t believe in fate, coincidence and all things mystic then stop reading now, because I’m about to tell you all about the rather weird things that happened on the run up to me finding out this wonderful news, & even what happened on that fateful day itself...

You remember how everyone was talking about the Perseid meteor showers in August? Well just after that in the week preceding my big news, me, my husband, and my two children all saw lots of shooting stars over our garden at night. And amongst all the other things we’d wished for separately, this was the one thing we’d all agreed on...
If you’ve ever read my blog entry on here for 5th November 08 which tells you how I started writing, you’ll know that the very beginning of that story starts with me buying Ronan Keating’s CD Destination. Well I found my original copy of that CD the other day and put it on in the car, but it was scratched and kept jumping, so I added it to my Amazon wish list meaning to buy it some time, and when we wanted some other bits & pieces the other day I ordered a new copy. Guess which day it arrived? Yep the same day I found out I was going to be published...
Oh yes there’s more... one of my friends – Carol who was heavily involved in making that first internet story such a success, told me she had got her old copy of the story out that same day I got my news and began reading it again...
And the big one. Even though I wasn’t really expecting to hear anything on that day, (my novel had been to an acquisitions meeting the previous afternoon and I knew it might be a few days until I had any news,) I couldn’t really settle down to do to anything because the it was playing on my mind all the time, so I thought I’d put a DVD on. Ok I was probably punishing myself a bit with this choice – especially if it had been bad news, but I choose Notting Hill. Notting Hill is such an important part of my novel (you’ll see why when you read it – wow I can say that now!) that for a while it would give me mixed emotions when I watched it. Desperation, when I wondered if anyone would ever love my novel as much as I did, would then turn into a determined hope, when I just knew that one day they would.
Anyway the point to this is, on this day the film was just ending and was in the final scene - the press conference when Hugh Grant asks Julia Roberts the question about staying in England, and my phone rang...
I swear I’m not making this up when I tell you it was my agent, Hannah, and as she told me the good news (just as well it was good or I may never have been able to watch that movie again!) and was talking, and I was trying to take it all in, pinching myself that this wasn’t all a dream. I could hear the strains of ‘She’ by Elvis Costello playing in the lounge as the final credits began to roll up the screen on the TV. It could have been a scene from my book it was so perfectly timed!
So next time you see a shooting star be careful what you a wish for, because you just never know it might just come true...
Until the next time,
A x
Oh I almost forgot I’m on Twitter now! Alimac141 if you’d like to follow me for more frequent updates.
The Blog will be kept for my infrequent yet longer ramblings on life ;-)
Photos of me celebrating below. The rest will be on the Facebook link at the end should you wish to take a look ;-)

Me with Champagne!

At the restaurant with balloon and flowers!

These are the two signs I bought in Notting Hill when I first went to do research for the book, and they've been pinned to my wall above my desk ever since!

Presents from my children: A poem from my son & a collage of all the films from the novel from my daughter - I cried!