This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
By Kate Appleton
The evening kicked off with a rather cold walk from London Bridge to The Club Room at Christopher’s, the martini bar and restaurant in Covent Garden. Freezing hands intact, it was slightly awkward greeting people without giving them a deep freeze experience. Despite my chill, the Orion publicity ladies were effusive with their welcomes as Gabby and Sophie bundled me into the room and fiction editor extraordinaire, Kate Mills, seamlessly led me into a speed dating event with Orion’s fabulous female authors.First up was the lovely Lezanne Clanachan, whose debut novel, Jellybird, was published for public consumption last week. Her novel tells the story of Jessica, who boasts a loving husband and a growing reputation as a jewellery designer. That is, until she discovers her friend Libby alone with her husband – heads together in whispered collusion. With her life unravelling, she flees to the seaside town where she grew up. The discovery of an old postcard sends Jessica in search of her first love, Thomas, ‘the ghost boy’ who disappeared one night seventeen years ago. Now, to find him, Jessica must confront the secrets that link her to Libby, the missing boy and a brutal murder. Already embarking on her second novel, it’s clear that Lezanne is not going to be far from the bestsellers list for quite some time.
Included in our chats was fellow author Katherine Webb, whose novel, The Misbegotten, is set in Bath in 1921. It follows the life of Rachel Crofton, who escapes her unhappy employment as a governess by marrying a self-made businessman. But her new life soon takes an unexpected turn. Katherine’s forthcoming book is set in Italy in the early 1920’s and the emergence of Mussolini’s Fascist Party. As a former history student this immediately piqued my interest. The story sounds like a political Romeo and Juliet with two young people, one on the fascist side the other on the socialist side, falling in love.
Swiftly passing through the now rather busy room, I was placed in front of Harriet Lane and her publicist and editor at Orion Books. I was treated to an insight into Harriet’s latest novel Her, which was described as an urgent book – one you can’t stop reading once you’ve started. It sounds like a creepy, slightly sinister story that will leave the reader breathless until the bitter end.
With a top up of champagne I was presented to the bubbly Liz Fenwick whose vivacious personality instantly endeared her to me. Liz is author of The Cornish Affair, which won her Novelicious’ coveted Alternative Thursday Award. After chatting about her writing career I was treated to a whirlwind trip through her life. I learned that Liz has achieved an English degree and worked in insurance before embarking on a world trip with her husband, who works in oil (forgive me for wanting to quote Stewart Lee’s ‘Are you a Sardine?’ sketch). Three children born on different continents later, Liz splits her time between living in Cornwall and Dubai – although she assures me Cornwall is her real home!
A quick trip to the toilet and a sample of the delicious canapés later (ranging from a spoonful of pea & mint risotto and seared scallop to posh chicken nuggets and mini fish and chips), it was on to author Deborah Lawrenson. Deborah’s novel, The Lantern, has won wonderful acclaim and has been likened to the writing of Edgar Allan Poe and Graham Greene – praise indeed. The Lantern has already earned a place on my reading list! It was lovely discussing her previous life in entertainment PR and hearing anecdotal stories about actors who were surprisingly short in real life and the iconic Lauren Bacall. Also involved in this discussion was the lovely Karen Howlett of Cornflower Books, who has been blogging for over seven years, putting me slightly to shame.
After so many wonderful chats with a variety of female authors, I was feeling quietly satisfied with a tinge of sleepiness (I blame the bubbles), so with one last glance over to see the illustrious Rebecca Front at the other side of the room, I made off to retrieve my things from the cloakroom.
Suited and ready to face the outside world again, I was approached by the Orion group marketing director, who wanted to know what I liked reading before describing a fantastic sounding forthcoming non-fiction title, Berlin. Business card pocketed, I’m hoping to receive an advanced proof soon. Fingers crossed!