Hours spent having massages: 1
Hours spent having room service: 7
Hours spent enjoying meeting my readers: 46
Hours spent writing: 0
Every summer I leave the comforts of home, and set off on the road for book tour. It’s always a hard time to leave – my house is never more beautiful than in summer, and best of all, at least three of the children, sometimes four, are off doing some kind of camp-like thing, leaving my husband and I to lounge around our swimming pool by ourselves, and have naked hot tubs at night. I shall say no more about that.
Generally, publishers are very lovely about book tours. They understand that although we completely adore meeting our readers, the actual travelling is quite grueling, and exhausting, and we are leaving our families to get out there and sell our books, so they make an extra effort to ensure we are okay.
I did have a publisher once upon a time not very long ago who didn’t understand the need to take care of authors. They once flew me from New York to Seattle for an event, back across the country to Chicago the next day for a huge interview and photoshoot in the morning, then event in the evening, and back to the West Coast, to San Francisco, the day after that. Imagine flying from London to New York, back to London, then back to New York in three days, filled with events. Yes. That’s right. It was horrific. I twice phoned my editor in floods of tears because I was so exhausted. This is only remarkable because I think I have cried twice in the past ten years. And this was both times. A crier I am not.
But now that I am back with lovely, lovely Penguin, I am back to feeling very loved and looked after. I had a wonderful book tour, and the best thing of all was being put up in delicious hotels, one of which had a sumptuous spa attached, so I managed to squeeze in a massage as well. I am a hotel snob, and it is lovely once again being put up in lovely hotels.
On the last night we pulled into a city that I remembered having been to years before, and it wasn’t very nice. I took my key, went up to what was a perfectly nice room, except for a giant brown wet stain on the ottoman at the end of the bed.
I moved. This time to a gorgeous room, right by the lift shaft and the open air bar one storey below. Clearly this was not happening. I was beginning to get tired and grumpy. I was moved again to a large corner room which was perfectly fine. It was only one night. How bad could it be?
I showered, crawled into bed at 10pm, closed my eyes, whereupon the entire room was flooded with bright sunlight. Outside my window (that had no curtains), were sports stadium-like floodlights, turning night very successfully, into day. I flew to the window and looked out, and there, below me, was a film set, complete with scores of people waiting around, a few actors in period dress, and, I’m pretty sure, John Travolta.
Had I been less tired, I might have gone downstairs for a goggle. As it was, I climbed into bed, pulled the duvet over my head, and dreamed of being back home.
(This article was first published in The Lady Magazine.)