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 before Finals.
I felt all of this during the long build-up to publication day for Anatomy of a Scandal.
Insomnia plagued me for the first time in my life; my hair began to fall out; my fears grew out of all proportion. Imposter syndrome - which dogged me at Oxford, when I joined the Guardian, and when I became a political correspondent - raged in the still, quiet hours of the night. What if I was about to be found out? And what if, in tackling a novel about consent, I was baring too much?
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. I didn't know it but within its first three days, enough copies were sold to thrust Anatomy of a Scandal into the very apt number 10 slot of the Sunday Times bestseller list.
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 immensely proud.
Forgive me. Humour me. It won't be long before characteristic self-deprecation resumes.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.