Hachette are very generous too (thanks guys!). Firstly they hired the roof terrace (indoors, thank goodness) at the Century Club on Shaftesbury Avenue, with a continual flow of free champagne and wine, as well as yummy nibbles. Then, when we were turfed out of there at the end of the afternoon, they had hired a second club round the corner, again with a free bar, into the evening.
It's so nice to catch up with everyone, like old friend Damian Harvey and new friend Cassia Thomas, and especially the slightly bonkers Chris Mould (author & illustrator of the Something Wickedly Weird series, amongst many others) whose characters have a wonderful darkness that reminds me slightly of Edward Gorey. Smashing stuff, smashing guy (blushing yet Chris?).
Gradually, a knot of the gigglier illustrators seemed to coagulate in one corner of the room, around our designer Clare Cartey (who did such a fun job on my Class Two and Class Three books). We were kept entertained by the even more bonkers Melanie Williamson, whose work is everywhere, which is no surprise, as her illustrations are fabulous.
I never found Susannah Corbett, author of Dragon's Dinner, but I met one or two other new people, like John Kelly, whose animal illustrations have such great faces! Jack's Tractor is his latest book, coming out next summer. I also met Hayley Welsh, fresh out of university, where she actually trained as a wildlife illustrator. She seems already to be attracting lots of interest and is working with Hodder on a new children's book. How exciting to be just starting out...
Another nice chat was with Jane Ray (who I'm sure needs no introduction from me). We have known each other at a distance for 30 years (we started out on the same Foundation Course at Hornsey Art College, way back in the Middle Ages), but oddly, last night was the first time we have chatted properly. I have always loved her work, as does everyone else of course!
So, I'm pretty sure a great time was had by all. Thanks Hachette! I fell asleep on the train home. Thank goodness Sheffield was the end of the line.