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Romancing the word

It must say something about my love of bubbles that I remember the champagne served at a London book launch, but not the book being launched. The Pol Roget lubricated my passage around the room as I drifted from one conversation to the next, pressing the flesh, sharing opinions, speaking with affected authority about the now-forgotten book between reaching for refills from passing silver trays.

The conversations are also forgotten — ­except for one. Tony Colwell of Jonathan Cape had recently published a book by a mountaineer called Joe Simpson. 'Touching the Void' had received rave reviews and had won an array of awards, and not understanding how books came into existence, I’d imagined it had been all Joe’s work.

Tony was quick to set me straight: ‘I had to work so hard with Joe,’ he said, shaking his head with a fondness no doubt facilitated by the Pol Roget. I can’t remember what else Tony said, as it was thirty-odd years ago and recall tends to be impaired by too many champagnes on an empty stomach. But I got Tony’s point: A book is the product of the chemistry between author and editor.

Rossy. My editor-in-chief.

'Chemistry' is a term more often applied to romantic relationships, which might explain why editors are so choosey. But I remain confident. Despite being white, straight, and unfashionably old, I know there's someone out there for me.


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