AFTER an occasion which you have been looking forward to not merely for weeks, but for years (in the case of launching my debut novel Roebuck into the public domain, that unknown world of readers-yet-to-be, essentially since I was a child) there are plenty of things it appears to be necessary to say. About the importance of the novel, about its relevance now, about its inspirations, about the writing of it.
But right at this moment, reliving last night’s launch party, what strikes me the most is just how may people I owe a thank you too. My mum gets the big one (and the dedication on the inside cover of the book states this too): she encouraged me to write down the stories I used to make up as a child. My good friend Yannick – he it was who motivated me to keep on going along to the Cliffs Pavilion in Southend, where we were both living at the time, to churn out another 1000 words of finished prose even when it was late in the day and I was feeling fatigued. The Amazon, generally, for providing such rich material for a fiction like Roebuck. And the venue, the Cutty Sark tavern in Greenwich, who hosted the launch for free, and atmospherically, with graciousness and also with impeccable service.
And, of course, everyone who turned up. The venue was a little crowded in the end, but it was touching to have it crowded with people who clearly wanted to see the book do well. In the room were my good publishers, Urbane Publications, friends, colleagues, family, other fiction writers, journalists, bloggers, book reviewers, book sellers, horror magazine editors, South America buffs, Latin American imagery buffs, maritime Greenwich experts, founts of knowledge on tea clippers, museum workers, wilderness lovers… a couple of people even turned up buying the book for sailors they knew. A mix of people, in short, who came together through one fart of Roebuck or another to celebrate its final launch: out into the shops and onto the websites for purchase.
Wine and ale flowed, the reading was a success (I think) and a few more people came away from the evening knowing more about Roebuck than when they arrived. A few more people also came away knowing about Urbane Publications. And that – to a small publishers nevertheless prepared to take on debut novelists and give them a chance to have their voice heard and become part of the literary conversation – is huge. What everyone who came last night did – and what everyone else who winds up buying Roebuck will do – is to have nurtured the growth of fiction today, is to have watered that flower and ensured it blooms a little brighter.