I first began being invited to publisher events and parties when I was reviewing for The Scotsman (teenage fiction), Literary Review (adult biographies and general children’s books) and the TES, so my name label would read variously Michael Thorn TES, Michael Thorn The Scotsman or plain Michael Thorn reviewer. Once the website was established, it gradually became a toss-up as to whether my badge description would name TES or ACHUKA as my credential. Eventually ACHUKA took hold, and it is a long while since I reviewed for TES or anywhere else for that matter.
Last night was the first time I arrived to find my badge had been printed as Michael Thorn, Freelance Journalist. I have been wondering what that means. Certainly the number of people I meet at events who are aware of ACHUKA is diminishing year on year. For that reason it’s quite useful to have ACHUKA on my badge, as it prompts people to ask and allows me to explain.
Anyway, your ‘freelance journalist’ was delighted to be included on the guestlist once again for what is always one of the most pleasant events of the year. Last night’s was especially so and had something of the atmosphere of Puffin Summer Parties of old, in the time of Philippa Milnes-Smith (who can be spotted in the photogallery) when they were held on the Kensington Roof Gardens. Here, just as there, when the gathering crush diminished somewhat with the onset of the twilight hour, small groups of four or five found somewhere to sit together on the perimeter of the garden, or in one of the interior rooms.
As always when I go through the snaps (and very much just ‘snaps’ they are this year, taken with my tiny RX100) I see people I regret not having had the chance to speak with. It was a gloriously warm evening – this summer looks set to equal that of 1976 – so inevitably nearly everyone moved immediately to the outside courtyard, making it very difficult to move around. I was delighted early on to spot Anne Fine and determined to speak with her, but the opportunity didn’t arise. I’m embarrassed to admit my failure to have read a book sent to me especially by another of the guests last year limited me to a friendly acknowledgement but not the usual catch-up chat we generally have.
It was good to meet Kyoko Nemoto, author illustrator of How To Fly Like An Elephant, and to hear about her recent 25-day Camino de Santiago trek (a walk she plans to comnplete next year). Check out the photos on her Instagram @kyoko_nemoto_illustration
It’s always a joy to meet Natalia and Lauren Ohara and I can’t wait to see their second picture book due this autumn.
Just before leaving I spoke with a BBC writer who has been part of the team working with a YouTube star that PRH have high hopes for, so I’ll be watching that space with interest.
According to one agent I spoke with, publishers are not as excited as they have been for YA. They’re now mainly looking for younger fiction but placing it is really difficult as everyone wants something that’s going to have instant appeal, so representing new writers who may need a book or two to build a reputation is really tough.
The event was held at Home House, a Georgian property that once housed the Courtauld Collection (before its move to Somerset House), now a private members’ club.
Here’s a link to the Snaps Gallery https://goo.gl/w4dEt4