It’s a week since the launch of Scent (and reissue of my debut Paris Mon Amour) and today I’d like to share some thoughts, links and above all, thanks to so many people for making my publication week so joyful *despite everything*.
Last year I really felt for the authors who had to navigate publication delays, bookshop closures and lockdowns which ruled out in-person launches and events (as well as most other things). I never imagined I’d end up being one of them but Plan B vastly exceeded my expectations. My spoof trip to ‘Ally Paris’ on Twitter was fun – here are some of the photos if you missed it – and a surprisingly emotional Zoom launch hosted by my publishers Sarah and Kate Beal of Muswell Press, included some very generous sentiments from them and my agent Diana Beaumont. It’s an honour to work with such passionate and dedicated people. I was touched to see so many friendly faces in the ‘crowd’ and am grateful to everyone who came for the support and brilliant questions. Hopefully we’ll get to raise a glass together sometime soon. Soonish.
Sarah quoted one of my favourite responses to the novel, from author Mary Loudon: “Scent will resonate with so many women who feel lost in the middle of life; who have no idea what or who or where is next, but who know one thing: that it must not be the same”. Mary got to the heart of the book – or at least the reason I wrote it – with these words, and midlife is one of the touchstone themes readers are picking up on. Catherine McNamara and I are wickedly thrilled with the response to our intense conversation here on the Sofa last week, of which readers have said: ‘full of grrr’ and ‘I love the intimacy in this interaction, the bones of it all.’ The theme of sexuality and writing sex came up both there and in another fascinating chat chez The Librocubicularist, Jane Roberts, and that’s before we even got onto perfumery, a passion I could talk about endlessly.
I’m much more comfortable promoting other writers’ work than my own, but I did wrench this novel from the murky depths of my soul and am proud of it and the fact that it gets people talking. This time round I’ve been invited to do more audio/video events, which I am really enjoying (hard to believe I used to have a terrible fear of public speaking). Here’s my first ever podcast, a lively discussion of French connections, sexual identity and mother/daughter relationships with fabulous New Yorker Donna Freed for Radio Gorgeous – check out her other guests too, there’s an impressive back catalogue.
Free online event with Barnet Libraries, Wednesday 21 April 7-8pm
I’m really looking forward to my evening with Barnet Libraries on Wednesday 21 April 7-8pm, in which I’ll be interviewed about the novel by bestselling author Melanie McGrath, followed by an audience Q&A with book prize for the best question. Tickets are free to book on Eventbrite, it’s open to all and we’d love to have your company. I will finally have been to the hairdresser the day before!
The difference word of mouth makes to the success of a novel can’t be overstated and it’s an honour to be receiving some very positive and insightful reviews. I love Anne Goodwin’s description of Scent as a midlife coming-of-age story. She finds Clémentine ‘both highly relatable and distinct. We all know people like her, people loyal to their unhappiness because change is so tough.’ I’m delighted by Anne Cater’s appreciation of the French angle, something many readers are mentioning, especially as we won’t be going there anytime soon: ‘it’s the author’s beautiful portrayal of Paris and the French way of life that really won me over […] her descriptions of places, the sounds, the smells, the people are exquisite and really quite perfect’. A huge thank you to the two Annes and all the other book bloggers featuring Scent – I know the time and dedication that goes into this labour of love AND how much authors value it!
Gleaming gold stars to the aptly named All Good Bookshop for being such an enthusiastic official supplier of signed and dedicated copies – and artistic book displays – and of course to everyone who has purchased Scent. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I’m loving it being out there in your hands and soon (counting the days) on the shelves of bookshops. Send me a pic if you spot it!
Un énorme merci – vous êtes adorables!
On 21 April I’ll be welcoming Marika Cobbold with a Writers on Location piece on Hampstead Heath, which happens to be the title of her new novel.