Hobnobbing Harper Collins Stylee

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Well. I am not a frequenter of fabulous, oyster-lavished* parties, let me tell you, but wowsers… what a truly fabbo do the Harper Collins lot put on last week!

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Last Tuesday was something of a surreal experience for me. Having spoken to several fellow authors that evening, I had the distinct impression that most of them were having a delightfully surreal experience too. Phew. I thought I might be the only one wandering around the V&A in my best frock, mouth slightly agape, bubbly in hand, thinking Whoa, this place is way-HAY bigger than the Blue Banana…

Never mind bigger. The V&A is stunning. The John Madejski Garden provided a slightly more impressive backdrop than the garden parties I’ve thrown at my place, you don’t have to wait so long to get a refill at the V&A either.

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It was perfect. The weather was perfect. The Alexander McQueen exhibit was perfect. Everything was pretty darned perfect. Fair enough, as someone who spends most of her life in jeans and flip flops darting from one health-hazard to the next while my 11 month old son tests my reflexes, I was already pretty excited about the whole affair, the invitation landing on my hall floor had kicked that whimageeel into motion a few weeks before.

After months slogging it out on my third novel, the prospect of a full scrub-up and an evening schmoozing with the likes of David Walliams** was nothing short of giddying. However, it wasn’t until I’d slurped a couple of cocktails with my editor at the Mandarin Oriental and flip-flopped my way down to the venue (heels were in handbag, obvs) that I realised how lucky I was to be there.     

By all accounts, the annual Harper Collins Summer Party is a pretty exclusive bash. Authors published by them (or indeed like myself, published by Harlequin – now part of the HC group) must have a book due for release during the same year to get a toe in the door, I’m told. I only hope they’ll have me, and my toes, back again next year… the chances of which are probably not helped by the fact that I accidentally managed to tip a glass of bubbly over the beautiful black silk dress of one of my colleagues. Groan.

Oh, and I also said something to the MD of Harlequin about feeling like I’d gotten my ‘big girl pants’… in the authory sense, of course, but still. Double groan.

Social ineptitude aside, I had the BEST time. One of the first people I spoke to was an enviably-attractive blonde called Rosie who I’d practically pounced on because she was sporting a lovely little baby bump which obviously bonded us in some exclusive way, I tried to explain, simply because I’ve recently added another sprog to our own clan, plus I’m always a little awed by women who manage to look anything other than the bloated sweaty mess I had when my pregnancy met the summer months.

I probably bored her senseless but she was very lovely and polite and didn’t at all show it if I had. Trust me, this was something I gave a lot of thought to later on having learned that Rosie is the editor of Hello magazine. Agh. At least I didn’t utter I carried a watermelon… I don’t think?! No offence to my colleague but thank goodness it wasn’t the editor of Hello‘s dress I lobbed my champers at. Shudder.

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Amid the fun and frolics though, despite my excitability, I did find myself having a brief moment of calm clarity. Not so long ago, while idly pondering how people ever actually got a chance at being ‘proper’ published writers, I felt as if I was stuck on one side of a very high wall, without the faintest clue how to bust through it and become one of the privileged minority I imagined on the other side, writing their novels, mingling with other equally privileged beings at delightful gatherings in London. It’s not all like that, as any author will say. Writing is mostly about late nights (not the fun kind), baggy clothes and baggier eyelids.

But last Tuesday night, for a few wonderful hours, there was no question about it. I was on the other side of that wall.

So keep writing, writers. Because you never know what may come x

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Think I was the only one who looked like a snap-happy tourist. Again, groan.

*I’m a bit of a philistine. I didn’t brave an oyster. My best friend warned me ‘it’s like licking phlegm off a turtle’. She’s a nurse. I trust her about this stuff.

**I didn’t schmooze with David Walliams, I didn’t even realise he was there until the next morning – doh.