Welcome to my At Home party, where I am launching The Woman Who Drew Buildings. At first I think it will be casual evening, where people will drift in and out of the rooms and we we will talk writing, novels, books, inspiration, Poland, publishing and possibly the state of the nation.
Not a bit of it! By seven o’clock more than seventy people are through the door – chatting, talking and filling the rooms and the hallway with wonderful life.
It’s been a busy week, a hectic few days and today has been truly mad. G has worked his socks off making sure everything in the house is right and he and the lovely T have made sure that the tree is lit by fairy lights. And, thanks to B, G, and my good friends Avril and Gillian of Room To Write – I am still sane and the party looks set to go.
(Here are Tony and Penny from WHSmiths who brought the books and kept smiling…)
Here is my friend Gillian in the kitchen with A, (The Boy Who Likes Chocolate), and Lynn, who is off soon to Australia. A and his stepbrother C play a blinder, pouring drinks, chatting and charming the socks off strangers. The food is fantastic: I’m allowed to say that, because I only did the humble things like charcuterie, boiled eggs with paprika, and cheese. But my friend, chef Anton did the proper dishes – Polish meatballs with sour cream dip, Polish* fresh plum cake, and Polish cherry dumplings. He has researched them especially for me and they are fantastic. We catered for masses and I wonder if we have gone well over the top and will be eating leftovers for a week. But no – the food vanishes in double quick time, so that must be thumbs up for Anton’s wonderful food.
Gillian (a chartered librarian, writer and literary Good Egg who reads my manuscripts last, before the publisher sees them) holds the fort brilliantly in the kitchen while I hold fort in the rest of the house trying to greet and talk to everyone. My friend Avril talks to many people, not least the wonderful writers from our group project in Easington.
Then, at seven o’clock, I get to say my few words my study. It’s very, very, crowded and unfortunately not everyone can squeeze in. Still, I know they’ll get the message as I float around between the rooms as the evening progresses.
The few words are of course about the The Woman Who Drew Buildings and also about the wonderful Mary Davies who was the inspiration for the novel. I tell them that my secret mission is to take this opportunity to celebrate twenty one years as a published writer. (I ask B how many words that is and he says, ‘Oh! About two million.’ Well here’s to the next million, then…)
Gillian McKay has helped me dream up this party. She’ s in command of marketing for Headline Publishing for York To Aberdeen. (I think that’s right…)
She’s an apparently quiet, small Scottish dynamo of a woman who is both supportive and protective of her writers and will always go the extra mile (often literally…) to help them. She loves bookshops and writers in equal measure and is secretly formidably efficient.
She arrives at five and never stops smiling, working, talking, helping, pouring wine, reassuring me right through the evening. She has this lovely smile and really looks as though she is enjoying herself, which she assures my she is. B – a hard worker himself – thinks she’s marvellous.
They are great – so helpful and interested. Tony tells me he has just finished the new Dan Brown and takes an interest in my display of my back-list novels on the bookshelves. He asks about my novel called Self Made Woman - set in Russia in 1991 - but, alas, out of print unless you can find one on good old Amazon. I’m thinking maybe someone should bring that one out again…
(Note here my battered 35 year old desk that I bought at an auction for two pounds. That desk has seen a few manuscripts.)
I would love to list simply everyone who came but the list would flutter out of the window and up into cyberspace. Still, Terry from next door caught a few guests with his camera. So I’ll try to name at least these:
Here above are Elaine and Janet from the library and Eileen and her sister Marion. And the backs of the heads of Linda and Mary, very keen writers.
Another David from Easington is there (with glasses), as is Bill Gates (facing).
I meet his wife, my friend Judith every time they are in England to continue our decades-long conversation. Alas, they are off to back to America again soon.
With her back to us, writer Norma - whom I always want to call Marilyn - and Sheilagh, in the green dress, who brought a triple layer chocolate cake and her blessing from Lourdes. Just inside the door is John, Avril’s husband, who likes writers.
And here is Lynn again, with Steffa who has just retired from running a primary school with a very fine reputation. And below Jane and Jeannie who always seem to be laughing
G and the lovely T keeping an eye on things.
Talking to Pat after signing Lynn’s copy. You can see my little writer’s doll sitting on the library steps…
And here are the flowers sent from London by my very special Debora and Sean to underpin a terrific day.
As with all parties , this one was simply made by the people who came. And thank you also for coming to my party…. wx
Looking out at the tree with fairy lights and looking forward to the next party …wx
* To those not yet in the know, Poland in 1981 is a central theme in The Woman Who Drew Buildings.