Like writers, book launches come in all shapes and sizes. I’ve attended glitzy affairs for high profile authors – sometimes held at literary festivals where you have a glass of fizzy plonked in your mitt by a smiling publicist – as well as the more usual signings at bookshops. With the demise of the latter, writers are finding different ways to launch their brand new novels.
Recently, I’ve been invited to a couple of virtual book launches and, no slur intended, but I don’t really get them because, for me, I like talking to people face to face and, if lucky, finding other writers with whom to swap gossip and generally chat about word on the wire. Let’s face it, there’s so much you can’t possibly pick up online. Wasn’t it Gore Vidal who said: ‘Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little.’ Well, there is nothing like a book launch to observe that sentiment at close quarters! Sure, there’s lots of grinning and glad-handing, and well wishes, and they are genuinely meant, but it’s also human nature for the less successful to have a little pang when clutching hold of a brand new novel that isn’t theirs while thinking (read this in a dramatic voice): ‘This should have been mine!’
My first novel was launched at the London Book Fair, which was a lot less glamorous than it sounds. I lurked around a stand for the best part of a couple of hours and as, no pun intended, nobody knew Eve from Adam, I was studied by very few punters and in the same way a scientist views a new variety of algae. The best bit was the dinner afterwards with my agent and husband. Since then, I’ve had less formal launches at hotels and libraries. Frankly, I’m more interested in ‘getting around a bit’ via radio interviews, talks, and participating in panels at literary events when I’ve got a new book out. I enjoy this side of the business, although in common with many writers, there is a point where I yearn to be at home writing my next tome.
So with all this flowing through my head, I set off for deepest, darkest Shropshire last week to attend the launch of ‘The Testament of Vida Tremayne’ by Sarah Vincent. If you’re not familiar with the novel you can catch my review in the online version of the Cheltenham Standard. Suffice to say, that the main protagonist Vida Tremayne is a writer who lives on erm… the deepest, darkest Welsh borders. Honestly, when I stepped inside Sarah Vincent’s home, I thought I’d stepped into Vida’s! Relieved to find that all Sarah’s friends were perfectly lovely, (no obsessive fan lurking around the kitchen sink or puma stalking the grounds – please buy and read the novel) I spent a jolly afternoon eating scrummy chocolate cake and chatting to her friends. These included a couple of writers, Suzanna Williams and Lisa Carey, and it wasn’t long before we were in a coven of three discussing writing methods, which was pretty fascinating. And before you ask, no, the green-eyed monster consumes none of us!