Friday, 21 January 2011

Being a writer: a good day

Regent Street

For me, being a writer usually involves being slumped at my keyboard, staring desperately at a blank screen and fretting about deadlines.  But every now and then it’s much more fun, and yesterday was one of those days when I really loved being a writer. 

I went to London to meet my agent and new editor for lunch (how cool does that sound??)  The day started well, with the train bang on time.  Coincidentally, a friend had also booked a ticket on that train. She had an incredibly cheap advance ticket so I squandered the first class I’d extravagantly booked and slummed it with her.  But the carriage was practically empty, she had bought date and walnut cake to have with our coffee, and we yakked all the way to King’s Cross, so it was a very pleasant journey.

RIVA at Selfridge's
Lunch in Covent Garden was very jolly.  We started with a glass of champagne to toast my new deal, and I was relieved to discover that my new editor was lovely, with an infectious enthusiasm, so that I am newly inspired to finish my ‘time slip’ now.  We had some discussion about what my name should be (Pamela or Pam) and what the second book should be (the same but different -  no surprises there!) but otherwise it was really a celebration and getting to know each other lunch.  For you foodies out there, I had quail’s egg mayonnaise with truffle, followed by a little square of roast pork on some sort of basil salsa.  A momentary worry about the absence of vegetables was allayed when I discovered tiny slices of new potato lurking beneath some cherry tomatoes and a drizzle of basil oil.  Very yummy but I certainly didn’t feel stuffed when I left.

Hey, where's MY book?

Piles of RIVA books in the Wonder Room

The Wonder Room

After lunch, I walked up to Oxford Circus and jumped on a bus to Selfridge’s where the Wonder Room has an exciting display of the new RIVA titles.  It was indeed a wonder to see all the bright new covers flaunted on tables and displayed on shelves instead of being hidden away on the bottom shelf the way so many M&B titles are. I took some photos and bought Kelly Hunter’s With This Fling for the train on the way home (fabulous, but not nearly long enough –  after I’d devoured it, I  still had half an hour trying to keep my eyes open.  Next time, write more, Kelly!)  

From Selfridge’s, I thought I’d walk down to St James’s where I was meeting my best friend for more celebration.  I bought her a nail polish called Throb, and myself a lipstick called Maneater, which seemed suitably inappropriate for both of us, then set off down the back streets of Mayfair.  London looked wonderful in the fading light.  I love walking then, when the lights go on in the houses and you get glimpses of luxurious looking rooms, and can wonder who lives in those incredible places, and why they never pop down and invite you for a drink so that you can have a proper sticky beak.  I found myself walking through Georgette Heyer territory, too: Half Moon Street, where Sherry and Hero first lived in Friday’s Child, and along Piccadilly to St James’s Street where all those bucks used to lounge around in their clubs.

In fact, we were meeting in Dukes Hotel off St James’s, but it turns out that I don’t know how to use the GPS on my iPhone, as I ended up in the middle of St James’s Park, and had to ask a policeman the way.  He pointed me back the way I’d come, by which time I was so late, I flagged down a taxi, which, embarrassingly, drove me round the corner – the shortest taxi ride I’ve ever taken!  Never mind, it was worth it to get there and see Diana. We had the most fabulous martinis, which are made at your table by a white-coated bartender, who just shakes the vermouth at the frosted glass before topping up with gin from the freezer and a garnish of lemon peel.  Neither shaken, nor stirred, I noticed, but very delicious.  We had two, and then a gin and tonic, and then I staggered back to King’s Cross to get the train home. 

Buckingham Palace at dusk

So apart from getting lost – and even then the park was very romantic in the half light – a fabulously glamorous day, I felt.  But now it’s back to work, and to looming deadlines, so no more glamour for me for a while, I fear.    

Oh, and before I forget,  congratulations to Ros, who has won a copy of Isabelle Goddard’s new book, Reprobate Lord, Runaway Lady.  Ros, don’t forget to email me your address to and Isabelle will put the book in the post to you pronto!


  1. Hi Jessica,

    Thanks for the trip, I feel I've been all over London with you!

    And the Riva titles displayed like that looks marvelous.

  2. I loved the displays. The Wonder Room name is certainly fitting :) It sounded like you had a fabulous time!

  3. Jessica I could just cry with the want of being able to have a day like that in London. Of course it would have to be one of many but oh it sounded just so lovely. You deserve such a glamorous spoiling and I am so glad your new editor was so inspiringly enthusiastic. Congratulations.

  4. Hi Jessica,
    Sounds like a lovely day, but then as a writer I'm sure you need to recharge your batteries every now and then. There is something about chatting to girlie friends that gives you a boost nothing else can match. Interesting that you are writing a time slip, those are my favourites to read and write. Mx

  5. Thanks, Nas and Lacey, I did indeed have a lovely time and was glad I got to the Wonder Room.

    One of these days you must get to London, Elissa. It's a great city. I didn't like it when I lived there (too big, too much hassle) but I love visiting and really appreciate it now - there's so much to see and do, and the history from every period is fascinating.

  6. Morton, you're so right about the restorative power of a chat with a girlfriend!

    And delighted to hear you're a fellow fan of time slips. Keep me posted on yours - no doubt I'll be boring everyone to death about mine in the run up to October 2012 when it comes out ... always supposing I get it finished, that is!

  7. Hi Jessica,

    What an interesting post!
    Are the Riva books colour coded?

  8. Hi, Janet

    Interesting question re the colour coding. As far as I know the RIVA books that came from Romance aren't distinguished from those that were Modern Heat, although they might have decided to indicate relative steaminess that way, I suppose.

    I did wonder why I got the sickly pink, I must admit. My book is the most traditional of the four, but I don't *think* that's it. Other ex Romance authors like Fiona Harper, Nicola Marsh and Nina Harrington whose covers I've seen have lovely funky colours for their covers (subsides, grumbling) Will just have to write funkier books myself in future!

  9. Yay for my win! I've just emailed you my address.

    I was in London at the weekend and hoped to get to Selfridges but sadly didn't quite make it. It looks amazing though and great to see M&B books being displayed so publicly.