Last Monday, 9th July 2012, my new Hakim and Arnold crime series was officially launched. There’s a lot that is not exactly fun or glamorous about being an author but book launches, especially your own, are fantastic exceptions. This is not least of course because a book launch is all about you (me – you know what I mean!) and all authors have egos even if they manage to hide them very well.
Organised by my publisher, Quercus, the launch of the first book in my London based Hakim and Arnold series, ‘A Private Business’, was held at my favourite book shop. This is the Newham Bookshop in Upton Park, London which is a treasure box of fantastic tomes on London, women’s issues, fiction, history, children’s books – you name it, they have it, and they know all about it too. No ‘one size fits all’ book advice at the Newham!
In concert with Lucy my publicist at Quercus, Vivian who runs the bookshop provided drinks and nibbles to all the guests who included, staff from Quercus, critics, bloggers, Newham regulars, my agent, friends and family. We all crammed in to the packed book shop sheltering from the hammering rain outside (it’s July and the UK, what do you expect?) and many toasts were proposed to the new book, to my publisher, the book shop, my family and also to my friend Gilda O’Neill who died almost two years ago. A fellow author and fantastic East End social historian, Gilda was sorely missed by so many of us and I was just glad that her husband John could take the time to come along and join in the celebrations.
After the booze in the bookshop we then all went off to an Indian Restaurant just across the road for a fantastic buffet and, for me, lots of time to talk to everyone who had come along. The evening was eventually topped off with a drink in the pub next door to the restaurant, The Boleyn. And this was when I began to fill up, as it were. Newham as a whole, but especially Upton Park, is very special to me. Not only is it where my new series, as well as my World War 2 Hancock series, is based, it’s also where I’m from. My dad used to drink in The Boleyn and being in there again with so many people that I care about was very poignant for me.
Sometimes authors have their launches at very smart and swanky places like The Ritz or in massive, famous bookshops like Foyles. Brilliant though those places and launches are, though, I wouldn’t have swapped what I had for the world. Hakim and Arnold are out in the world now and, whatever happens, I think that they, as Newham people, have come out in just the right way.