Thursday, 6 February 2014

The Boss, Wendi Deng and a serious shortage of lipstick. Oh, and how my book was made, part one.

Thank God for Wendi Deng and her (alleged) "thing" for Tony Blair.

Greg's so distracted by the note she apparently wrote about Tony's physical charms that he's spent all morning forging versions addressed to The Boss – which has kept him so quiet that I'm finally able to concentrate on writing a proper post about my book being printed.

"Quite right, too, Molly," says Greg, when I tell him that's what I'm doing. "You need to get on with marketing that book, otherwise you won't sell a single copy and then you'll be stuck working for Andrew – for the rest of your life."

Greg's tone makes that prospect sound even less pleasant than it normally would, but I'm not following his logic at all.

"Well, that's what you'll probably end up doing as well," I say. "So I don't know why you're going on at me about it."

Greg gestures at me to wait while he scrawls "Wendi" at the bottom of his latest draft love-letter, then walks up to me and shoves it against my lips. Hard, so he almost knocks me off my chair. When I push him away, he inspects the results, then rolls his eyes.

"You've worn all your lipstick off eating that bloody croissant," he says. "And when I expressly told you not to, too."

I didn't have any lipstick on in the first place, which shows how much notice anyone ever takes of me and, anyway, I needed to eat that croissant, fast. The Boss has just called to say he's on his way in.

"My mouth's nothing like the shape of Wendi Deng's," I say, "so Andrew wouldn't have been fooled by kisses I'd done, anyway. And talking of him, you still haven't answered my question about why you're warning me against being stuck here forever, when you're just as stuck as me."

"Well, that's where you're wrong, Molly," says Greg, drawing a large heart on the letter, then adding an arrow. "I have youth on my side, so the world remains my oyster. Whereas in your case..."

He doesn't finish the sentence, but then he doesn't need to, does he? I seriously hope someone's going to buy this bloody book.

Anyway, talking about that, I can't believe how complicated books are to produce. Just wait 'til you see what the process involves! I couldn't believe my eyes.

So, without further ado: here is how a book is made. My book, in fact. (I may have got the various processes a bit out of order, though, so don't even think about trying this at home. I was a bit over-excited, which is not a feeling with which I'm over-familiar, so the adrenalin went straight to my head.)

To re-cap, the printing was done at Clays, which is in Bungay, in Suffolk (though only just across the border from Norfolk, which apparently matters a lot). 

It employs hundreds of people, and is miles bigger than I realised. It's also been responsible for printing the books of some very important people (obviously not including me), and you realise this as soon as you walk into the building and are confronted by this wall of famous names:

I shouldn't think my name will ever be added to the wall but, even so, I was treated as if I was pretty famous myself, despite what I looked like – and there were some very important people from Clays and HarperCollins there to greet me. They were nice people as well, which is much more important than being important, as I'm always trying to tell The Boss. 

Here are some of them, anyway:

(Left to right: Dave from the bindery, of whom more later; Vicky Ellis, Account Director at Clays; Steve Jones, Account Controller at Clays and Charles Light, Production Director at Avon/HarperFiction at HarperCollins.)

I didn't get to talk to Steve Jones much, which I feel a bit bad about as we only met very briefly and I got distracted when I was introduced to him, but the others all came round the factory with me. 

Charles Light was rather handsome (though don't tell him I said that), and Vicky Ellis was absolutely lovely – but the star of this show's going to be Dave from the bindery, of whom much more in part two. 

I'm doing this in two parts because I'm thinking of your eyes, which will cross if I write one very long post, and anyway, The Boss has just arrived, so now I've got to go and pretend to listen to one of his entirely pointless "briefings", while Greg hides the Wendi Deng love-letters somewhere safe. 

He's refusing to give them to Andrew until he's found someone in the building who's wearing lipstick. Good luck with that, seeing as they're all men apart from Joan – and I shouldn't think she's ever worn lipstick in her life. It would ruin her resemblance to the bus driver from South Park, which would be a tragedy as far as I'm concerned. 

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