Anatomy of a Scandal: publication day!

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For the past 15 months, I have been focussed on one particular date: January 11th.

Imagine that peculiar mix of excitement and apprehension in the run-up to a wedding. Then add a splash of the fear experienced anticipating A levels or Finals. 

Well, I felt all of this during the long build-up to publication day for Anatomy of a Scandal. 

And in the end, there was no need. I had the most glorious day - in which I finally realised that bookshops were buying my book, that people were excited about it, that I should relish this opportunity because they're rare, these moments in the sun. So, this post is all about celebrating my launch day. I am going to behave with a touch of the swagger of the members of the Libertines - the dissolute drinking club, based on The Bullingdon Club, that I satirise in my novel. And I'm going to shout about a book I wrote out of contract, with no guarantee that any publisher would buy it, and of which I am proud.

Forgive me. Humour me. It won't be long before characteristic self-deprecation resumes.

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The day began with an early train to Westminster, where one of a fleet of 50 black cabs branded with the book's cover was parked. There is little I won't do for this book, I discovered, and that includes sitting in a black cab leaning out of the window while clutching the book, infront of the Palace of Westminster.

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Then after a photo-shoot that involved trying to get pigeons to eat out of the book, we jumped in the cab for the first of my bookshop visits and the signing of 100 first editions at Goldsboro Books:

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Waterstone's Gower St was next, where I'll be doing an event with Elizabeth Day on January 25, details here, before a quick spot of prosecco at Waterstone's Picadilly - and more book signing.

Back in the cab, we were off to Hatchards, where there only a were few copies left. Then on to Waterstone's Clapham Junction - and finally Foyle's, Waterloo, where I saw that Anatomy of a Scandal had commandeered the entire window - a moment that made me positively teary with pride:

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By this stage, I was giddy with excitement as the Evening Standard's survey of London booksellers - at Waterstone's, Blackwell's and Foyles in the capital - had highlighted Anatomy of a Scandal as their fiction "Dark Horse". Things became even more surreal when I discovered I had trumped Trump in this display at the door:

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After dismantling the display, and signing and sticking around 100 copies, it was back to Foyle's, Charing Cross, for my launch. There was the most spectacular cake:

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Speeches:

And several photos with friends. Former journalist colleagues and prime writer friends - all authors commercially published over the age of 40 (I was 41) - turned up, as well as the QC who had helped me hugely with the novel.

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My children and niece and nephew charmed everyone, including the staff of Foyles who let them pore over Fire and Fury (their vocabulary already much enhanced by a cursory glance. "Did you know he said the f word 3 times by page 12?" ) My son and daughter got to pose in "my" taxi - my photo of the night - and, as I continued celebrations with the team from S&S, friends were already texting me photos of the backlit adverts now on the tube:

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Today, it's back to the rainy dog walks, the washing, the staring at the computer, the writing of blogs and marshalling of ideas. But, briefly, there is no self-doubt.

It's a novel, and rather lovely, feeling. And, as I remember this surreal, ridiculous, marvellous day, I'm going to cling onto it for all it's worth.

Anatomy of a Scandal - the blog tour.

The Anatomy of a Scandal blog tour kicks off today with a stellar review from Katherine Sunderland and a Q&A that explains the background to the novel and what I was trying to achieve in writing it. The full tour's listed here and I'll be posting a link to each review each day. Do hope you enjoy:

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Here's Bibliomaniac UK's thoughtful, eloquent review and my Q&A.  

And Anne Cater's, on Random Things Through My Letterbox. Stunned by this.

@zarinatweets asked me several thoughtful questions about my inspiration and writing process - and whether I'm trying out various different genres. I answered them here.

Nicola, @ShortBookScribe, like Anne and Zarina, has read both my previous novels, and gave me another perceptive, 5* review which you can read here.

Joanne from Portobello Book Blog will be reviewing nearer the time, but there's a Q&A I did for her, here.

Kaisha RAVED about Anatomy at The Writing Garnet.

Bibliophile Book Club raced through Anatomy in a couple of sittings, and reviewed it here.

Phew! I'm so incredibly grateful to the book blogging community for their time and effort in taking part in this, and for ensuring I'm *even* more excited about Anatomy of a Scandal being published on January 11th. 

Anatomy of a Scandal - the trailers.

In the long run-up to Anatomy of a Scandal being published, nothing has made me more excited than the creation of a video to promote the book.

It's a Netflix style trailer that's dark and tantalising with a soundtrack of searing strings in a minor key, a moody midnight blue and grey palette, and words which appear and disappear, teasing the reader with questions at the heart of the novel. Every time I play it I get goosebumps. Here it is:

Not content with creating one video, the S&S team have created a further two: one from the viewpoint of Sophie - the wife who wants to believe her husband - and another through the eyes of Kate, the criminal barrister who's convinced he is guilty. 

Here they are. First Sophie:

And then Kate:


The videos mirror the two main points of view in the novel, although we also see events from the point of view of James (who doesn't merit his own video), Ali and Holly. I think they capture the claustrophobic, introspective nature of these women's points of view, while the camera's gaze moving across and up the House of Commons, highlights how these personal dilemmas have wider moral and political implications. As current allegations in Hollywood, Westminster and beyond are revealing, some secrets go all the way to the top.

Simon & Schuster in the US have been so inspired they've created their own trailer, see below. I'm intrigued by their take on it, and love seeing how it's captured their imaginations, too:

Anatomy of a Scandal - cover reveal

The literary agent Jonny Geller recently tweeted that there were three components  crucial to a novel selling: title, cover, and timing of the release.

As a reader, I'm hugely influenced by that second part. Unless I've read a review or have read the author before, it's the cover that draws me to pick it up - particularly if it's placed alluringly on a table at the front of a shop.

My first two novels - dubbed women's fiction for the reading group market - have the swirly font associated with women's fiction in their UK editions. It's something that has perturbed some readers when they found unanticipated darkness within the covers of the books.

For my third novel, Anatomy of a Scandal, published by a new publisher, I needed something very different. Because although I'm still interested in female psychology and relationships, the truths we tell ourselves and the compromises we make, Anatomy is more deliberately suspenseful and darker with a very current and problematic theme at its heart.

I'm thrilled that my editor Jo Dickinson, and Simon & Schuster UK's art director Jack Smythe, had such a strong vision for my novel. Anatomy of a Scandal is partly a courtroom drama and the black strips conjure up the shredding of legal documents or the spooling of cassette tapes - the ripping up of words, of different truths - because the idea of differing perceptions of the truth is key.  And the woman glimpsed through these ripped words, enticing you to enter the world of this novel? Just watch her carefully:

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Anatomy of a Scandal will be published in January in the UK and December this year in the US as well as in 15 other languages. It will be fascinating to see how the covers vary - or whether this striking version is adopted elsewhere. The US cover, by Simon & Schuster US, brilliantly complements this - with another black cover, and another woman glimpsed through a gap. But that reveal's for another day.

Meanwhile, here's the blurb, which will run on the back, and should hopefully further entice the bookshop browser - a person intrigued by this cover - to go ahead and read:

Part courtroom thriller; part portrait of a marriage; part exploration of how our memories still haunt us, Anatomy of a Scandal is a disarming and provocative psychological drama.

Sophie’s husband, James, is a loving father and a successful public figure. Yet he stands accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is convinced he is innocent and desperate to protect her precious family from the lies that threaten to engulf him. She’s kept his darkest secret ever since they were first lovers, at Oxford. And if she stood by him then, she can do it now.

Kate is the barrister prosecuting his case. She’s certain that James is guilty and determined he should pay.  No stranger to suffering herself, she doesn’t flinch from posing the questions few want to hear. About what happens between a man a woman when they’re alone: alone in bed, alone in an embrace, alone in a lift . . .

Is James the victim of an unfortunate misunderstanding or the perpetrator of something sinister? Who is right: Sophie or Kate? This scandal – which forces Sophie to appraise her marriage and Kate her demons – will have far-reaching consequences for them all.

And here are some comments from some of the very first readers. Almost pinching myself that it's resonated in this way.

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