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

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