I'm a book designer! I'm famous!
This week I got my contract from the BBC for ‘Teeth’. It will be recorded in the same studio as the Archers, although not at the same time. Then it will be broadcast in July. I’m not going to be reading it, people ask me that. Nor will I be famous. Some people say that too.
“You’re going to be famous. You’re on the radio.”
These are the same people who when I mention my book ask, “How many pages is it?” Then when I show them the cover, “Did you design it?”
That’s right. I’m a book designer. I’ve just kept it quiet.
Then they go on to say, “It might be a film. Just think.”
I’m thinking. I love books. I write books. I’m happy that it’s a book and that’s why I wrote it as a book. If I wanted to be famous I would have a sex change, swim the channel to the Netherlands and then tie myself to the wing of a windmill while local children throw wet flannels at me denouncing the plight of Iraqi wildlife.
“Those bombs, played havoc with the camels. Yes sir!”
So I’m excited, I’m going to be on the radio. It might be a film! And while we’re not talking about money I’m being paid £260. People want to ask that too.
I admit it. I am famous and rich!
Move out of the way of the roller-coaster of my life before you completely lose your breath and asphyxiate yourself slowly.
This is at exciting as it gets. Today I’ve been moving between the sofa and my bed reading ‘Penguin Special’. This is a history of Penguin books. This is what the rich and famous do.
Penguin Books was started by Allen Lane in about 1935. Before that cheap, high quality paperbacks weren’t available. Penguins were sold for 6p and you could buy them in Woolworth's. The fist ten included books by Agatha Christie, Hemingway, Dorothy L Sayers. Other publishers thought Lane was mad.
The first twenty included reprints of ten Jonathan Cape books. Cape had a literary list second to none (and still true today - they are my publisher). Lane went to see Cape. Cape negotiated Lane’s offer up from a £25 advance per book to £40.
Cape was described as the ‘most tight-fisted bastard’. Cape thought the Penguins would be a disaster but if they were going to be a disaster he ‘wanted to get £400 off Lane’.
Of course they were a huge success, selling millions in the first year to the new mass market of the 1930s, offices were springing up everywhere, there was a new middle class.
Virginia Woolf was horrified. She didn’t think that kind of person should be reading. But she wasn’t very nice, was she?
I bought a Penguin myself this week. A new edition of The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton. It has the most brilliant cover and is part of Penguin Red Classics. In the same series, Books for Boys, are The 39 Steps, The Lost World, The Prisoner of Zenda, The Riddle of the Sands, She.
I’ve read them all except She.
What a brilliant world, with such things in it.
Currently reading - see above
Currently listening to - Strangefolk by Kula Shaker