You’d never know it from my home page, but I have a new book out next week. LIFE ACCORDING TO LUBKA feels like it’s been a long time arriving. First there was the year I lay fallow after my publishers declined to offer me another contract. It happens. Fate smacks you round the head with a wet towel and says, ‘So, think we’re a respectable mid-list author, do we? Well take that!’
Finding a new publisher is like dating again: the tentative enquiries, the meetings, the lunches, the cagey circling and sniffing before the first embrace. In the end two publishers ardently sought my hand. Nice.
Then, having made my choice and enjoyed a little post-nup stroking, I had to get back to work. I had to remember how to write a book. I can’t say it came easily. I was rusty and I’d set myself a tricky feat; an arcane subject narrated by two voices. It took more time than I thought, I missed my planned publication slot and here we are, in mid-2009. But now I have finished copies in my hand and LUBKA is ready to meet her public.It’s still kind of thrilling even after all these years.
I’m reminded though of the day my first book was published, in the summer of ’86. I can remember what I wore – white trousers and a baggy striped linen blazer – as I sauntered up William IV Street to be lunched by my publishers, convinced that the world and his wife were whispering, ‘Oh look, there goes Laurie Graham, published novelist.’ My cold shower came shortly afterwards when the receptionist at Chatto & Windus announced me as ‘Gloria Graham’ . Sic transit etc.
I remember the other lunch guest that day too. Andrew Motion, until very recently our Poet Laureate but in those days Poetry Editor with an armful of silver bracelets. How young we were, how very young.
That novel, generously reviewed, slipped beneath the waves, as others have done since, but I press on. Like biting your nails, writing is a hard habit to break.
LIFE ACCORDING TO LUBKA, published by Quercus on June 4th. An adornment to your bookshelves. Also sturdy enough for use as a doorstop. Buy one, and be the envy of your friends.