My 14th book.
The book that was written over four and a half years, tried to have different forms, took loads of drafts, was made alongside a (second) breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, and the conception, birth and astounding growth of Fun Palaces. Absurd and huge, all of it. And, as ever, as I always do, I was writing a book all along. I have been always writing a book (different books!) since 1990.
Then the book comes out and I can’t quite recall how there was time or space to write, where it started, when I knew it was a book not a story or a film or merely an idea. They come out, these books, and they are real. Things in and of themselves, stories that are also artifacts. They leave my head and become a thing.
Publication day is odd – people have already read it, reviewed it, responded. And yet there is still a sense that the official date is somehow a curtain-raising.
So, here it is … London Lies Beneath.
I think it’s my best book ever. It is community and class and relationships and families and love and grief. It is London and several pasts, all elsewhere. It’s fiction based on fact, spun round with superstition, prayer and hope.
Here are some events I’m doing, some book-specific, some book-tangential :
Nov 1st, Camberwell Library
Nov 3rd, National Portrait Gallery (not primarily book, but v interesting I think!)
Nov 4th, Exeter Library
Here’s an interview for Foyle’s with some book questions and some Fun Palaces questions and some life questions.
And reviews in the Financial Times, Daily Mail and one in the Mirror which I don’t have a link for, but it says : “The seamy atmosphere of working class life in pre-war London is conveyed in hauntingly beautiful prose.”
I’m going down to the Thames later, I shall give the river my love, and remember the real people who were part of this story, the boys of the 2nd Walworth Scout troop, who drowned off Leysdown on 4 August 1912.