Tag Archives: publishing

Working Lunch

I know I’m lucky to be a novelist, but I have to admit, sometimes I miss working in an office. Only because the lunches were so great.  Especially on Fridays.

Back in the days when I worked in Sales Promotion, flexing my literary talents by writing such copy gems as Honey Monster’s Soccer Pop-Up’s for the back of Sugar Puffs cereal boxes, we’d all down tools at lunchtime.   And even if there was a boardroom lunch and we had to stay in the building, it was always fun to nick sandwiches from the trays from the outside caterers, sneaking corners of coronation chicken from under the cling film.

But on Friday lunchtimes, we’d religiously pile into All Bar One to reward our week’s work with a big fat lunch and a couple of large glasses of chardonnay.   Oh, happy days.

The non-participation, non-event lunch is the writer’s curse. And the concept of a whole hour of free time in the day, outrageous.  You’d think since Emlyn and I both work at home and we’re kid-free at noon, that we’d slope off for long lunches, but the guilt is too great and the time for writing always too short.

But we still fantasize about lunch, like real working people do – usually from about 9.30am in my case.  But there’s no fancy ciabatta, or sun-dried tomato or salady nonsense round here.  Instead, ravenous at 1pm, we meet like cave-people down by the fridge to forage for last night’s leftovers.  Sometimes, we’ll splash out on some supermarket sushi, or take-away chips, but only on Fridays.

It’s not so bad now the sun has come out and we can eat our cold curry in the garden, but we eat and then get straight back to work.  Only yesterday, Emlyn was reminiscing about his old office lunch hours when he’d eat his sandwich in the park and ogle at all the girls for the other 58 minutes.  It’s not quite the same with just me.  And I don’t think my tracky bottoms are doing it for him.

But I have to admit that I get very jealous when I hear about people having a big corporate lunches.  Fancy being paid to do my favourite thing all the time.  I only get to have a lunch date once a month, if that.

We met a lovely MP on holiday last year who diets during August, because he has to attend so many big lunches the rest of the time.  I couldn’t bring myself to get the violins out.  And city boys are the worst culprits, although our rich friends say times are leaner these days.

But it’s not just them.  Publishers, of course,  are renowned for their lunching habits. There was once a fantastic panto at the end of the London Book Fair when a famous agent and publisher got up on stage to sing the ballad, ‘the long and winding lunch’, to the tune of The Beatles, ‘long and winding road’.  Never a truer word sung.

With that in mind, I’ve spent this week corrupting my fabulous new editor into a Friday  lunch date in May.  To be honest, it wasn’t that hard.  But I can’t wait.

In the meantime, my March lunch date is today.  (I’ll tell you about April’s exciting lunch plan in a future blog.)  I’m off to glam up to go to the AGM of ‘Rubbish Mothers’, an elite club of which I am a proud member.  It involves bunking off for a boozy lunch to a nice Thames-side restaurant with some wonderful girlfriends. Do I feel guilty?   Course I don’t.  The long and winding lunch and rubbish mothering go hand in hand.  Try it sometime.

Leave a comment

Filed under Jo Rees

The name game

If you were going to be an author, what would your pen name be?  It’s a fun game to play.  I’ve published books as Josie Lloyd and Jo Rees, but for my latest venture, I’m going out as Joanna Rees.  So posh.  So grown up.

Yep, finally, after all these years, I’ve left behind my maiden name and nickname and I’m writing under my full and proper monica.  The thumb twiddling is over, people.  It’s back to work for me.

This is what it says this week in the press:

Wayne Brookes at Pan Macmillan has acquired UK/Commonwealth rights to two new novels from Joanna Rees via Vivienne Schuster and Felicity Blunt at Curtis Brown. Rees will move from Transworld to Pan Macmillan for her next novel, TORN, to be published in spring 2012.

Brookes said: “Torn is epic storytelling at its very best, and as soon as I read the first chapters I knew I had to have it. Full of glamour, corruption, murder and romance, this is what a real blockbuster novel should be. It spans the decades, taking sibling rivalry to a whole new level. Torn is like your favourite soap opera all wrapped into one mammoth novel and will appeal to fans of Penny Vincenzi and everyone who found themselves devouring the pages of Kane and Abel.”

Rees commented: “I couldn’t be more thrilled to become a Macmillan author and delighted to be working with a creative editor of the calibre of Wayne Brookes. Torn is my most ambitious project to date and I feel very lucky to have the expertise of the excellent Macmillan team behind it.”

So there you have it.  Great news for what’s supposed to be the most depressing week of the year.

Anyway, I mention it, because I’ve started practising signing my own again – something I haven’t done since I was eight, when writing one’s signature endlessly seemed like an essential thing to do.  It helps that Emlyn bought me a Mercedes for Christmas – a pen – not a car (damnit). It’s a chunky silver thing with funky burgundy ink.  TORN, by Joanna Rees looks particularly good in it.  And they say writers are narcissistic…

But the nuance of names is very important.  Now I’m fully into writing TORN, I spent lots of my day deciding what to call my cast of thousands.  Of course, names do fall in my path.  The name of the bully in school – she’s in as the arch bitch.  The woman who was snotty about my credit card bill payment being overdue (not my fault)  – she’s in too.  You cross me lady, you get botched plastic surgery.

Seriously, you’d be surprised how many fictional serial killers are named after real-life traffic wardens.

Emlyn and I once did a book signing in Amsterdam and this very handsome man turned up called Fox Mulder.  It happened that we were renting his house.  At the time the X Files were huge and we thought it was great he was called after the lead.  It turned out that his assistant at work was called Dana Sculy.  He suspected that the script writers for the X Files had nicked the employee list of the IBM Corporate Law department.

So if you have any good names, sling them my way.  Today I’m after a New York wedding planner, an impotent lawyer and a Soho pimp.   I can’t use my ex-boyfriends, but I could use yours…? Suggestions please.

4 Comments

Filed under Jo Rees