Saturday, 21 January 2012

Finding good luck in a bookshop

On Wednesday night, as you know, I went to The Bookseller Crow in Crystal Palace to sign some books and meet up with Jonathan Main (who co-owns the shop) and Karen McLeod (who is writer-in-residence there).

I mentioned to Karen that the coin I had put under my doormat to bring good luck - on her advice - had been sucked up by a powerful hoover wielded by a diligent plumber (whose number I would be willing to supply if anyone in south London who is not superstitious wants a new bathroom installed and needs a good job doing).

I explained that it seemed greedy to put another coin under the mat to replace it, but I have been waiting for good news connected to my writing (I never wait for bad news, obviously) and had started to worry that, now the coin was gone, it would never come. If this sounds irrational, I ought perhaps to explain that by this time we had drunk three bottles of white wine with nothing to ward off drunkenness except a dish of garlicky olives and some chips with mayonnaise. And some prawns. Even though I had eaten almost all of the food, we were both equally drunk, and every so often I had to navigate back to an important point I was trying to make about the process of writing by shouting Giacometti! which would get me back on track. Still, at least I now know that combination of carbohydrates, fruit and protein doesn't seem to be particularly effective at restoring sobriety. Next time round I will try asking for a cup of coffee or a punch in the face.

But, drunk or not, if at any given time someone hasn't published one of my books in, say, the last two weeks, I start to panic that I will never be published again. You can imagine how difficult life became for all of us in the long period between my last book being published in the UK and Alison Wonderland being published for the first time in the US a few months ago.

Fortunately, while I was at The Bookseller Crow on Wednesday, I found a penny on the floor by the till and picked it up. I asked if I could keep it for good luck (let's face it, it might not help author relations to go into independent bookstores and remove cash from the premises without asking) and they said yes. I had brought along a home-made cake (gingerbread) as a thank you for stocking my book, so it all seemed fair and square.

The next day I received an email that contained very good news from my publisher. I can't really say much more, which is why I have given you seven paragraphs of nonsense instead. But I hope it will be another good year. I will be writer-in-residence at Black's private members' club in June. And... I have this good news, which I will share when I can.

I always pick up pennies for good luck when I see them, and I always forget to put them in a separate compartment of my purse or in a pocket, so I never know which are the lucky ones and end up spending them. That's a good thing, isn't it? It means I pass them on, and that doubles the luck for the recipient. I hope the penny from the Bookseller Crow brings good fortune to whoever ends up with it.