I’m never hugely comfortable with the salesman side of being an author. Not because I don’t believe in my books, but it feels weird and grubby somehow, like I’m peddling snake oil at a sideshow. It can be repetitive, I know, or boring, but when I let myself, it’s the part of the job I enjoy most. I love talking to readers, or meeting them when events allow – I’m genuinely interested in what people think (good or bad; one day I will tell you about the time I sat in on a book club that eviscerated my debut The Last Romeo). Writing these first three* novels has been such a solitary experience, that to get the chance to talk about them is a proper honour. It’s a relief to have everything finally spill out of your head. It’s an old cliché but it’s true: once they’re published, the books you write don’t belong to you any more. They’re out there in the big wide world.
Instead of the little party I’d planned for The Magnificent Sons before coronavirus tore into our lives, I spent publication day mostly on my own. I went into town to sign some books at Foyles on Charing Cross Road, which was very exciting but bittersweet and extremely unglamorous. Most of the floors of the shop were closed and there were no readers at my signing – just me, amid half-constructed shelves, on an upper floor that was being moved around a bit. (Clive was very kind to me, though, and made me a coffee. Cheers, Clive.) When I’d finished, I wandered around town feeling a bit flat and lonely, like I was full of good news but had nobody to tell. I ate a Pret sandwich (jambon de beurre) by myself on a park bench, popped into a couple of bookshops to see the book on the shelves in the wild, bought some books myself – not copies of my own book, I hasten to add – and then cycled home for a celebratory dinner with my boyfriend. It was warm and muggy and clingy and horrible, but I felt hopeful. ‘Well, at least we’ll have the paperback,’ I said to myself as I pedalled through Hyde Park and spat out the numerous bugs and flies that slammed into my mouth, ‘I can give it another go then, in 2021.’
And now we do have the paperback – well, not quite yet, but we do have the cover! And this is it!
It’s great, right? I think so, anyway.
It was designed by the very talented Jack Smyth, who created the central illustration of the hardback cover – the two brothers locked in an embrace – which we’ve kept an element of here. We had many more discussions about this cover than we had about the hardback. I think I saw it in every colour, we tried out all kinds of typefaces. Final decision on this kinds of thing never rests with the author – it was a team effort with the designers and sales team at Little, Brown, and my editor Anna, and my agent, but I did more or less get everything I wanted. I didn’t even have to stamp my foot. The typeface for the title, and for my name, the colours, the positioning of everything, the quotes – it all sprang from my feedback. I like the orange. Stands out. I love the typeface of the title and the S of ‘sons’ interlocking with the looptail G of ‘magnificent’. Glorious.
To celebrate the paperback cover, I’ll be doing a reading from The Magnificent Sons on my Instagram Live – instagram.com/theguyliner FYI – on Wednesday 16 December at around… 6pm? And I’ll be doing another very special reading from the book on New Year’s Eve – for those who’ve already read it, or know my blog of old, the chapter I’m reading concerns a life-changing Hogmanay celebration in Edinburgh…
The paperback version is out in April 2021, but you can still order The Magnificent Sons on hardback, or The Last Romeo, as Christmas presents! See my page on Bookshop.org or details of other retailers here.
And if you hadn’t already heard, a very weird 2020 was rounded off with a brand new book deal – two more novels are coming, with a new home for me at Sphere, and a new editor in Cal Kenny. The first, called The Fake-Up, is out 2022! Can’t wait! (I’m working on edits as we speak!!!)
Thank you for reading, and for getting yourself – and me, for that matter – through 2020. I don’t believe that arbitrary changes in the calendar have that much meaning, but I do believe things are going to get better, whatever year it is.