The Society of Authors’ Party

Last night, despite the sure and certain knowledge I wouldn’t know a soul there and no one has yet heard of Johnny Mackintosh, I attended the Society of Authors party. Sadly, this meant my newly devised Astronaut Training Programme had to be put on hold. Quite what it was a party for was never made clear. Society Chair, Tracy Chevalier (who wrote Girl with a Pearl Earring) welcomed us by saying we didn’t need a reason, that writing is such a solitary profession it’s a good thing to meet your peers. That said, when I did, many of their raison d’etres seemed to be to moan about publishers and agents. I don’t have an agent and love my publisher…

My initial tactic was to prowl the room like a big cat, identifying the prey that was becoming separated from the herd. The flaw in this plan was that the isolated “authors” you meet may well turn out to be as limp as a struggling okapi, perhaps managing the estate of a little known Kazakhstan poet, or writing academic monographs about the unlikely impact of a 12th century Armenian hermit on trade in Genoa, three centuries later.

Time for Plan B. In hindsight, the people already in groups, talking, and not ostracized by their fellows, were always likely to prove more interesting. But it’s harder to break in. Trusting to everyone’s relief that the Charlotte Bronte readings were over but hadn’t been used as an excuse to end the free wine, it was time to pounce.

Clare Dudman and I thought we’d met before (and probably have), but I realized once we were talking it was perhaps because she reminded me of The Daily Politics’ Jenny Scott (watching daytime telly, however good, is one of the perils of authorhood). Samantha David didn’t tell me she’d written I Married a Pirate, an early hit on the YouWriteOn authors website, for which I shall chastise her. But she did provide handy hints about free European travel, and then reached beyond our little group to pull in Sue Cook, former Nationwide presenter and now a Hodder novelist. Sue was terribly kind and said I was far too young to remember seeing the show. If I can fool her, perhaps I have a chance with the European Space Agency interview panel?

Then I found myself with the fabulous Beth Webb, whose Tegan books sounded so fascinating they’ve shot from nowhere to near the very top of my reading list. Beth was talking with a member of the society staff, which proved a wise move, not only because said staff member (unnamed for reasons that will become immediately apparent) was particularly charming, but also because it meant the free food and drink continued throughout the night. As I supped my vodkas and tonic in the comfort of the Victory Services Club, the International Space Station receded ever further into the distance…
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~ by keithmansfield on April 22, 2008.

2 Responses to “The Society of Authors’ Party”

  1. Never give up the Space dream!!! Never!!!

  2. The dream lives! Oh yes…

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