Trips up to London, website questionnaires, telephone interviews, magazine requests for articles and stories. Yes, it's that time again when I emerge from my cocoon. My new book The Jewel of St Petersburg is about to be published - August in the US and November in the UK - and the exciting process of putting my name about has started.
Last week I was wined and dined right royally by my publisher, Jo Dickinson, with a whole bunch of the marketing and sales bigwigs from Little Brown UK, along with fellow author, the lovely Bernadette Strachan. The venue was a classy restaurant on the Embankment in London overlooking the Thames - though we were downstairs in a private room. I think they were hiding us away in a wine cellar, not quite trusting authors to behave properly!
They are such a super team at Little Brown UK, I count myself lucky. I assure you that not all publishing houses are as warm and welcoming or go out of their way to make the experience easy for you. Bernie and I managed not to drop gravy over any of them or throw wine over our nextdoor neighbour - which was my cringe-worthy pièce-de-resistance last time I was at a restaurant in London.
Most of the year a writer keeps in regular touch with editors and PR, but it is rare to have the chance of a get-together with the marketing and sales teams. These are the people at the sharp end of book selling. It turned out to be quite an eye-opener at times. Like the fact that they get about one minute to sell your book to the supermarket buyers. Supermarkets are now major players in the book world and it's important to get them on board. But ... one minute?? That takes some pretty fast talking and an ability to push the right buttons straight off. I just had to hug these guys. They do such a fabulous job for me.
So while The Jewel of St Petersburg picks up its skirts and starts dancing, I am now deeply engrossed in Malaya where my next book is set. Fighting my way through steamy heat and jungle, sailing the Malacca Straits, lazing on colonial verandas and knocking back the gin-slings. Oh yes, and there's an occasional Zero or two on the horizon. A far cry from the snowy elegance of St Petersburg. That's the joy of writing - you never know what's coming next.