A few months ago I read an interview with Sebastian Faulks in which he discussed his “pre-publishing nerves” prior to the launch of A Week in December. I couldn’t understand how someone with his body of work and track record of success could be apprehensive about a new book coming out.
Now I am less than five weeks away from The Mango Orchard’s appearance in the bookshops, I understand what Sebastian (if I can presume to be on first name terms – we have the same publisher after all) meant, and I don’t have his reputation to fall back on.
Last week I received my first review. Having spent every other week for a couple of years being exposed to the rigorous assessment of my writing group, and then by my agent and publisher, I felt that I was inured to criticism. But with the arrival of the review in my in-box, I realised that while the incisive Jo-Jo, eagle-eyed grammar queen Caroline, Scrabble-session Charlotte and “that’s bollocks” Justin of my writing group might offer some unwelcome truths about my draft chapters, nothing would be as wounding as a mauling by a renowned reviewer of the finished book.
The review was written by the noted biographer and journalist, Andrew Lycett, and it was generous. I scanned the screen, bracing myself for a harsh assessment. Instead of rubbishing the book, he offered phrases such as “very exciting” and “cleverly constructed”.
Apart from the reviews, more of which are expected soon, there’s the launch party to plan.
I love going to parties but I’ve never enjoyed any of my own. The first I ever had was for my third birthday. It didn’t go well. My friend Patrick Edwards lost a tooth in a toffee apple incident and I was sent to my room for sneaking away from a game of pass-the-parcel to eat my entire birthday cake.
I must look up Sebastian’s interview again and see if he offered any crumbs of comfort.