Orion Books: A Celebration of Women’s Fiction (& Non-Fiction)

inviteMe and Liz

Event: Orion Publishing Group celebrate their list of female fiction and non-fiction authors.

Who: I got the invite through a literary website I write for Novolicious but obviously it was thanks to Orion that the event was available for me to attend!

When: Wednesday 12th February

Where: The Club Room, Christopher’s – an American style Martini Bar & Restaurant

Refreshments: Greeted with champagne which was kept topped up by the dangerously attentive waiters we were then treated to a series of delectable canapés ranging from a spoonful of pea & mint risotto to a seared scallop, posh chicken nuggets and mini fish and chips.

Freebies: Aside from the free advice about writing from all the wonderful women authors and the rather frank advice about the publishing industry from the rakish group marketing director I was given a stylish copy of ‘Landline’ by Rainbow Rowell.

Review:

The evening kicked off with a rather freezing walk from London Bridge to The Club Room at Christopher’s Martini bar in Covent Garden. Freezing hands in-tact it was slightly awkward greeting people without giving them an experience similar to that of sticking their hand into a deep freezer. The Orion publicity ladies were effusive with their welcomes as Gabby and Sophie bundled me into the room and fiction editor extraordinaire Kate Mills seamlessly led me into a speed dating of Orion’s fabulous female authors.

First up was the lovely Lezanne Clanachan whose debut novel Jelly Bird is being published for public consumption today. Her novel tells the story of Jessica, who boasts a loving husband and a growing reputation as a jewellery designer that is until she discovers her friend Libby alone with her husband heads together in whispered collusion. With her life unraveling, Jessica flees to the seaside town where she grew up. The discovery of an old postcard sends Jessica in search of her first love, Thomas, ‘the ghost boy’ who disappeared one night seventeen years ago. Now to find him, Jessica must confront the secrets that link her to Libby, the missing boy and a brutal murder. Already embarking on her second novel it’s clear that Lezanne is not going to be far from the best sellers list for quite some time.

Included in our chats was fellow author Katherine Webb, whose novel ‘The Misbegotten’ is set in Bath in 1921 and which follows the life of Rachel Crofton who escapes her unhappy employment as a governess by marrying a self-made businessman, but her new life soon takes an unexpected turn. Her forthcoming book is set in Italy in the early 1920’s and the emergence of Mussolini’s Fascist Party, being a previous history student this immediately piqued my interest. The story sounds like a political Romeo and Juliet with two young people, one on the fascist side the other on the socialist side, falling in love.

Swiftly passing though the now rather busy room I was placed in front of Harriet Lane, and her publicist and editor at Orion Books. I was treated to an insight into Harriet’s latest novel ‘Her’ which was described as an urgent book that once you start reading you cannot stop, through in a creepy slightly sinister angle and you’re left with a novel that will leave the reader breathless until the bitter end.

With a top up of champagne I was presented to the bubbly Liz Fenwick whose vivacious personality instantly endeared her to me. Liz is author of The Cornish Affair which won her Novolicious’ coveted ‘Alternative Thursday’ award. After chatting about her writing career I was treated to a whirlwind discussion of her life where I learned that she had achieved an English degree, worked in insurance all before embarking on a world trip with her husband, who works in oil (forgive me for wanting to quote Stewart Lee’s ‘Are you a Sardine?’ sketch), three children born on different continents later Liz splits her time between living in Cornwall and Dubai – although she assures me Cornwall is her real home!

Quick trip to the toilet and then it was on to Deborah Lawrenson whose novel ‘The Lantern’ has won wonderful acclaim being likened to the writing of Edgar Allan Poe and Graham Greene – praise indeed and one which has definitely put itself onto my reading list! It was lovely discussing her previous life in entertainment PR and anecdotal stories of meeting actors who were surprisingly short and Lauren Bacall. Also involved in this discussion was the lovely Karen Howlett of Cornflower Books who has been blogging for over 7 years, putting me slightly to shame.

After these wonderful chats with a variety of female authors I was feeling satisfied with a tinge of sleepiness, I blame the bubbles, so with a last glance over to see the illustrious Rebecca Front at the other side of the room I made off to retrieve my things from the cloakroom. However, suited and ready to face the outside world again I was accosted by the rakish Orion group marketing director who wanted to know what I liked reading before proceeding to describe a fantastic sounding forthcoming non-fiction title ‘Berlin’ – business card pocketed I’m hoping to receive an advanced proof soon, fingers crossed!

Thanks again Orion for having me!

Rating:8 out of 10

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