A month after Oli phoned me to say Preface had offered a deal for The Mango Orchard, he calls me again to say the deal is agreed, and that Trevor, my publisher, has invited us for a drink at his club to celebrate. “You can tell your friends and family about it now,” he says.
I don’t tell him that I did that a month ago and am already receiving daily e-mails from friends and members of the Mexican family, wanting to know why the book isn’t already in the shops.
I meet Oli en route to the club and he leads me to an unmarked black door off a busy street in the heart of Soho. I follow him up the uncarpeted stairs to what looks like a toilet. “Sorry,” says Oli, realising that he has led me into a toilet, and tries the next door along the corridor.
The club reminds me of a sixth form common room, albeit one with more affluent looking clientele, and a much more impressive wine list. The furniture smacks of house clearance, the table cloths are patterned plastic, yet the coats hanging on the hat stand are of the most fashionable brands. This is Soho, after all. Parading in between the tables is a man who I’m pretty sure was in a prominent 90s dance act. He is wearing a velvet waistcoat, purple shades and is swinging a cane. No one pays him any attention. He looks mildly crest-fallen and returns to the bar and orders a brandy.
It strikes me that meeting your publisher for the first time is a bit like meeting your future spouse after your parents have arranged the marriage; the dowry’s been paid, it’s a done deal, so you just hope you get along.
Trevor, I realise as soon as he walks in, is someone with whom it would be very difficult not to get on. He reminds me a bit of a young Charlie Higson, and is garrulous and funny. He greets me with the enthusiasm of someone meeting a long lost Mexican cousin and tells me how much he loves The Mango Orchard. He goes on to say that he would like me to write more books and tells me that he might be able to offer me a further advance. How can I not get on with someone like that?