I hate parties.
Amend that to “I hate parties where I don’t know a single soul and there are lots of famous people and I’m just a little nobody and know it.”
Case in point: the HarperCollins Summer Party 2004 at the Serpentine Gardens.
I’ve never been good at small talk, and once again this not-so-fatal flaw became all too obvious. I stuck to my agent’s side as she introduced me to this publishing person and that, only to clam up when it came to conversation.
I met one famous person: Doris Lessing, whose hand I was honoured to shake.
The rest is all a blur.
I rememeber lots of elegant literary people walking about the lawn with flutes of champagne in their hands, and everybody knowing everyone else except me.
Did I ever mention – I’m shy?
I did meet one first-time HarperCollins author and we stuck together in our anonymity for most of the party. I even remember her name: Anita Anderson.
Luckily, she was quite chatty so I didn’t have to speak much myself. I’m always grateful for that. I’m a listener.
And of course I met my editor.
She immediately drew me aside.
The whole party heard the hammering of my heart and stopped to stare.
Or so it seemed.
I was about to get – The Verdict.
And now a Break for Commercials.
Like its predecssor, Noces Indiennes, it was in the French Top Ten but this time you’ll really have to take my word for it because I’m not scanning any more lists. But yes, it was up there rubbing shoulders with books by Robin Cook and Danielle Steele and Stephen King and lots of French authors I’ve never heard of.
End of Commercial Break.
“I love it!” she said. And my little heart soared.
We had a great conversation. I told her that I was now far enough into the story to know where it was going and I was sure I could write a synopsis.
I even had a working title: The Cry of the Brain-Fever Bird.
She was happy, I was happy, my agent was happy.
Driving home later that evening, light-headed from all the bubbly, I giggled to my agent:
“Of course I can play the game! I’ll give them their bloody synopsis, if that’s what they want!”
Oh, the silliness of Aquisitions people!
I’d give them a nice little story to get a contract – I was a writer, of COURSE I could write a synopsis! – and then just write my book the way I always did – by following the characters.
That’s what’s called Playing the Game!
I was a Professional, and I’d give them just what they wanted!
Call it Ecstasy, if you will! Champagne induced ecstasy!