What a week it turned out to be.
About two weeks ago I received an email from my agent, Peter. Could I come to London to meet some publishers?
I hadn't let my hopes get up. I didn't realise that Peter had only recently gone out with it - he'd been waiting for the right moment.
So when Peter began with all the phone calls, I didn't take it too seriously. I was deeply into my new project - working title - 'Realm of the Jaguar'.
Monday rolled around. I met Peter at his club and we chatted for half-an-hour, mostly about a certain press story involving him and a well-loved celebrity, which had caused Peter to be chased by paparazzi.
Then I started to meet publishers. One in particular had some excellent ideas about how to improve the book. Peter sat by and said very little. Later he told me that I'd been a tad too business-like. "It's not a business meeting," he said.
We jumped into a taxi and drove to yet another publisher, where I had one of the major surprises of my life. As we sat down with the editor, I was presented with a suede-covered box, on which a sticker decorated with Mayan glyphs pronounced something about a prophecy from a codex... Inside was another sheet, continuing the story...
(I'm honestly too embarrassed to write the contents of those sheets, but in short, it said that in 2008 they would like to launch my book.)
There was a marketing proposal stuck onto papyrus, and a separate sheet (folded concertina-fashion, like a Mayan codex!) with the 'Offer', which I passed straight to my agent. Everything was gift-wrapped and tied with a bow. There was a box of Maya Gold chocolates on the table, I realised. I frankly could hardly believe my eyes. It was one of those situations where there's a two-second gap between perception and reaction. "Wow," I said, nodding, struggling to comprehend what I was seeing. I was banking on 'wow' being the appropriate reaction, but I wasn't exactly sure.
Then I met the rest of the team. They told me how much they liked my book, asked me some questions about what inspired it and where the story was going...
Well, I used to tell anyone (who'd listen) anything I could about my books, but for the past year I haven't. Guess I've realised that unless you've read and love a book, it's no fun to hear about one. And sometimes even then...yanno. So to suddenly have a crowd of people being so fascinated, was pretty overwhelming. As we left their office, I had the sense of being slowly disconnected from reality. What the hell is going on? I thought.
Back at Peter's club, we met even more publishers. One carried a large aluminium tube decorated with stickers made up in black and red, with the book title in a logo. This 'offer' came gift-wrapped with six bars of Maya Gold chocolate, toys that tied-in with the book and the financial and marketing proposal printed on glossy, "Joshua Files" logo-headed paper. They'd actually knocked up a logo! More enthusiastic chat about the book, favourite films and TV shows, writers, influences, things in the story pipeline, plans for how to sell and launch the book.
I simply didn't know this kind of thing happened. "I need to take a moment," I told Peter after they'd left. "This is a little overwhelming."I wasn't kidding. I worried that I might actually burst into tears...I was having a pretty unprecedented experience. The last time I remember feeling anything close to it was when I was interviewed for a place at Oxford and my soon-to-be-tutor put me out of my misery and told me that he would be offering me a place.
Peter was sympathetic. When I told him that it was beyond my wildest dreams, he said, "This is just the beginning."
So...that's how it begins. Who knew?