Friday 27 November 2009

Shop Girl Special Delivery

8 o’clock Monday morning.
I’m sleepy and have no intention of moving until the last minute (which is 9.19, if I don’t wash my hair).
Mum comes into my room. I reluctantly turn and open my eyes.
She’s holding a long brown box.
Suddenly I’m wide awake.
Because I know exactly what’s inside it.
“Oh my God,” I say, jumping up and taking it from her.
“This is it.”
“This is crazy.”
She looks on as I fight to open the box which has clearly been sealed with super glue.
I tug and pull and bite until finally I manage to rip it open.
And there I am, staring back at myself from the book cover of my first published book.
Can I write that again?
My first published book!
Not an image posted on my blog, but the real 3D version.
It’s so smart and smooth and...
“Square,” Mum says, “good shape.”
It’s beautiful and I feel so happy and so proud of it.
“Almost too good to sell,” I say, holding it close.
Across the country Postmen are loading up their red bags with little brown boxes. People could be reading me now in a cafe on their lunch break, or maybe with their legs up on the sofa with a cup of tea.
What an exciting and scary thought!
I hope you’re enjoying it if you’re one of them.
If not, then check out my video for proof that it exists.
I apologise in advance for these 2 minutes of dodgy recording!

Thursday 19 November 2009

Shop Girl on the Case

Today we visited the Fashion and Textile Museum.
Me, Petra and the Date.
We wanted to be certain everything would run smoothly on the night.
The launch is all I think about and have done for weeks. Every minute of the day.
I'm e-mailing as if it's just been invented, spreading the word with the efficiency of a tummy bug.
Of the many things I've learnt this week, the most important is this:
When organising a book launch don't assume anything.
For instance: don't assume the colour of the wine you've ordered is compatible with the venue.
"Nothing red," our contact said.
I wasn't sure what she meant at first.
We weren't allowed to wear red?
But my launch dress was red!
I couldn't believe she was referring to wine.
"We're having red and white," I said, to clarify.
"No, there can't be any red."
I gazed at her blankly.
Did she hate red that much?
Couldn't she just ignore the people drinking it?
"There can only be white drinks," she explained, "because of the exhibition."
I'd only just upped the wine order. It was being processed at that very moment.
My mind went into a panic as I wondered how I could stop it.
"Usually we only have white wine or champagne," she continued.
I held on to that thought for a moment.
Then let it go.
We headed to The Woolpack after that and coaxed the owner, Michael, out of his office.
"You're joking!" he gasped, looking dumbfounded. "What do you mean only white drinks?"
He'd promised us 20 litres of hot Pimms.
That was now out of the question.
"What about Vodka?" we wondered.
"Mixed with?"
Thoughtful silence.
"What about soft drinks?" he asked.
The museum had suggested Elderflower cordial.
"That's alright if you like flowers."
Despite the hiccup, we left the Woolpack feeling confident we'd find an alternative.
Next Stop: My Shop.
Petra, theatre designer by trade, has been determined to give this lauch a wow-factor ever since she found out I was getting published.
Petra plus Mum and you get a pretty dynamic team.
Within ten minutes, they'd put together a mock-up of a very elegant, free standing chandelier.
Now, cross an artist, designer, an electrician, paint and lots of crystal... and you get a decoration that sums up the Shop Girl experience.
I am.

BTW Petra, real name Piera Lizzeri, is a Rada Theatre Design Graduate, for all those theatre directors in need of a creative genius.

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Shop Girl Book Launch Preparations

If you're thinking about asking me for a free book, please reconsider.
I’m not about to make a fortune and head off into the sunset in a Ferrari.
For a start, I can’t drive.
I’ve tried to drive.
My brother took me to a car park.
I mixed up the brake with the accelerator and almost ran over a couple and their dog.
Neither am I about to move from Mum’s house into some vast mansion with state of the art lamps that switch on when you blink.
“Oh, you’re going to go off and make millions,” customers say, after reading my interview in the Southwark News that’s now sellotaped to the shop window.
“Not really,” I say.
My bedroom is so small you’d mistake it for a walk-in cupboard. The Date even suggested I use my tiny bed for kindling wood in our Guy Fawkes’s bonfire.
I’m not moaning, I’m just trying to offer some perspective.
Give a guess, how many books do you think are being printed?
Because this being published lark is all very new to me.
It’s not just about writing a book, it’s getting it out there.
The Date designed me some Shop Girl postcards and the publishers agreed to finance the printing.
On Monday, I loaded my rucksack with my postcards and feeling somewhat apprehensive, I headed to the South Bank.
I walked along the river from Bermondsey to Waterloo distributing them.
Only one cafe said ‘no’. (The posh ‘illy’ one. )
“What’s it for?” some staff asked.
“I’m promoting a local book*,” I stammered. (*What does that even mean?)
Mostly they nodded and asked no more.
Your book?” a man in a trendy bar wanted to know, comparing the neat picture on the card with the messy haired version in front of him.
“Uh, yes...,” I said, and for a moment I felt genuinely surprised that it was mine.
As my rucksack got lighter I felt happier.
By the time I reached Waterloo Bridge the weight was off my shoulders in more ways than one.
Now for my next challenge:
The Book Launch.
Yesterday I learned that the publishers don’t fund book launches.
Reaction: Panic! (and the following thoughts:)

1) I’m going to have to use up all my savings!

2) What savings?!

3) I don’t have savings!

4) No one will buy my book unless they’ve had a drink!

5) It’s just going to be a room full of books and people looking for their free glass of wine!

6) I’ll have to tell everyone to forget my birthday and support the cause instead! (typical, late November/December birthday money was designed for other people's Christmas presents or book launches!)

7) And forget that new launch dress!

Today I’m much calmer.
I’ve summoned the creative powers of my friends and family.
Tonight all three of us are meeting.
May the force be with us.

*The Book Launch is on Wed 2nd Dec, from 7pm at the Fashion and Textile Museum, Bermondsey St, London SE1. All welcome. RSVP to