Claire King


Archive for September, 2012

Bloomsbury Debutants 2013

Posted on: September 27th, 2012 by Claire - 15 Comments

This is where I try really hard not to gush.

This week I went to a party at Bloomsbury, held in the honour of the authors of their 11 literary debuts of 2013…and one of them was me!

The idea was to introduce us to some of the people who will be selling and hopefully talking about our books over the next year, over drinks and nibbles, and it was so much fun! I met so many lovely people who work at Bloomsbury that I’ve not had a chance to meet so far, as well as book retailers and people who work in radio, or newspapers or magazines. I talked about The Night Rainbow of course (elevator pitch, no pressure…) but also about things like the future of book covers, about the difference in reading ebooks and paper books, about the journey to publication. It didn’t matter who I found myself standing next to in the room, conversation was easy and passionate because the magic in the room was that everyone loved books. Utter, utter bliss. So much so that despite being scheduled to run until 8pm, I eventually left at 9.30, and there was still a lovely kind man that kept coming and refilling my glass of champagne. So much so that I was sad to have to go, because I still hadn’t chatted nearly enough to people, particularly my fellow authors. So much so that I didn’t tweet one single tweet, and I only took one photo. Here it is:


In this pic you can spot Ciarán Collins, Seb Emina (or is it Malcolm Eggs?) and D.W. Wilson.

At one point, Alexandra Pringle, madly glamorous doyenne of Bedford Square, declared herself to be a little woozy after having just flown back in from launching Bloomsbury India, but then promptly ditched her heels and stood on a chair to give the most thoughtful and heartfelt presentation of the authors and our books.

Surprise! As part of the evening, a booklet anthology of each of the first chapters (or so) had been put together and all the guests got to take a copy home. What fabulous reading for my flight back to France!

It is such a privilege and a huge treat to read these extracts, from novels, memoirs and non-fiction books. Honestly, 2013 is going to be a Very Good Year.


So, (ahem) I would like to introduce you.

Debutants, these are my blog readers.

Blog readers, these are my fellow debutants:


January 2013

Melissa Harrison (@m_z_harrison) whose novel Clay, we are told, whilst set in the city, has similar echoes to The Night Rainbow: a central child character, an unlikely friendship, a connection to the natural world. The first chapter is so compelling, thank goodness I only have to wait until January.

Lara Feigel‘s The Love-charm of Bombs looks intriguing. A chronicle of wartime London as experienced by five writers – driving ambulances, fighting fires and falling in love. the taster already hints at glamour, drama and fascinating insights.



Seb Emina (@sebemina) – along with Malcolm Eggs (@malcolmeggs) the editor of The London Review of Breakfasts – whose ‘The Breakfast Bible’ appears, from the extract, to be a work of culinary magnificence. Forget innaccurate and unhelpful egg timers. Now you have…SONGS TO BOIL AN EGG TO. Genius.



She Rises by Kate Worsley (@KHWorsley). What Alexandra described as a rollicking novel is vividly descriptive and has such a confident and unique voice. Can’t wait to read the whole book!

Servants by Lucy Lethbridge. An original and fascinating portrait of domestic servants in twentieth century Britain.



Ciarán Collins (@ciarancollins77) – The Gamal. I never even got to say hello properly to Ciarán, but I’ve read his first few pages and, oh boy.  Shades of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime, but in a bold, irreverent adult voice and the hint of something very dark to come. Set to be a star.



Maggie & Me by Damian Barr (@Damien_Barr). I don’t know what I was expecting from the ‘manhattan swigging, chicken loving salonnière’ but it wasn’t this. In the space of a couple of pages I am nine again, as if by magic. I now have a bit of a crush on this man.



Ballistics by D.W. Wilson. I only managed the briefest of chats with D.W.: “Do I have to call you D.W.?” “No, my friends call me Dave.” before being whisked off to meet someone else. Pity because I wanted to talk to him about his short story writing. But there’ll be another time I’m sure. Another really fresh voice, but with echoes of American classics, his opening pages grabbed me from the first sentence. June? Seriously?



The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon (@say_shannon). You may have heard of Samantha, “suddenly” super-successful whilst still an undergraduate, ‘The next…J.K. blah blah blah”. Let us not forget that people who are “suddenly” successful have practised their writing, a lot, and written an entire novel (at least one, there’s usually a practice novel) and all of this before their “sudden” success. What’s interesting about Samantha is she’s managed to get a book published with Bloomsbury in a genre they don’t usually include in their lists. I bet a lot of fantasy fans will be deeply envious when I say “I’ve read the first chapter and it’s soooo good!” It’s a double edged sword though, as the launch isn’t until August.

See Samantha’s take on this party here.



Pig’s Foot by Carlos Acosta. As Alexandra pointed out, not only is Carlos one of the world’s greatest ballet dancers, he’s an amazing literary talent. It’s hard not to compare the feel of his narrative to Isabelle Allende or Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but at the same time it’s clear that this story is going to be unique, and uniquely told. A treat coming up in a year’s time.

A huge thank you to Jude and everyone at Bloomsbury for organising this fabulous evening. This is a picture of me flying over London. No, I am not in the plane. I am flying over it. I am whizzing and soaring through the clouds.

In the clouds.

[Ed.] Tess from Bloomsbury just kindly sent me this lovely pic of me with Tram-Anh and Erica. Thank you, Tess!

Claire at the party


Win a proof copy of The Night Rainbow

Posted on: September 5th, 2012 by Claire - 32 Comments

Still 5 months until The Night Rainbow hits the book shops and it seems I’ve been talking about it for so long. I signed the contract back at the beginning of 2011, so actually the build up has been quite long. But all of a sudden the launch doesn’t seem so far away.

Recently uncorrected proof copies were sent out and here —–>

…is me holding one. It has a few typos and so on that went in with the copy edits, but it’s in the shape of a book and look, there are Margot and Pea on the cover.

These proof copies have gone out to the great and the good as Advance Reading Copies, in the hope that one or two lovely authors somewhere love the book so much that they will say something about it that we can put on the cover. I wrote about author blurbs here, by the way.

Anyway, the lovely people at Bloomsbury have a spare proof copy, and here’s the plan. I’m going to give it to one of you. I’ll even sign it.

Here’s what you have to do to win:

In The Night Rainbow, there is a lot of attention to the detail of things: the sound of a staircase, the taste of a tomato, the feel of water on your toes… When you’re a child, you have plenty of time to notice these kinds of things. They’re important. (Below you will see a quote from from the book from Margot, the narrator’s little sister, who explains things).

What I would like you to do is to notice something important in your day to day life, and post it in the comments. If you have children you are also allowed to ask them for help because sometimes they are better at this than grownups.

When there are plenty of important things I will pick out a selection of my favourites, and then I’ll post them up for people to vote on. The voting will close on 24th September, when I’ll be in the Bloomsbury offices and I can sign your book and send it to you. Voilà.

Good luck and have fun!

Thank you everyone for all you beautiful thoughtful and surprising comments. I loved how they ranged across the senses and it was so hard to choose a shortlist, but I have… You’ll find it below.

I’ve summarised the comments that are on the list, but if you look down in the original comments you can read them in full.

Please take a second to cast your vote(s) you can vote for up to three of the five and the winner when the poll closes next Tuesday morning (25th September) will get the book.

Good luck everyone!

[poll id=”2″]

The poll is now closed. Congratulations, Nettie and thanks to everyone who took part!

Prepare for Re-entry

Posted on: September 3rd, 2012 by Claire - 12 Comments


In September 2002, after our first summer here, people began to ask us “Êtes-vous prêt pour la rentrée?”

We were confused because:

a) We didn’t have any children back then and

b) Our French wasn’t very good.

We were missing the huge cultural significance of La Rentrée which goes far beyond the ‘Back to School’ idea of September in the UK (where we came from).

La rentrée in France is a re-entry into the rhythms of day to day life after a general slow down that has lasted all of August and much of July as well. Many businesses close completely, politicians go off on long holidays, schools shut for 9 or 10 weeks…things just don’t get done over the summer and everyone knows that.

September is back to business. A new year begins. Life seems like a fresh notebook. Things get done that people have been putting off over the summer –  “I’ll take care of it à la rentrée” – and routines fall back into place.

For book lovers there is also the excitement of the literary rentrée – la rentrée litterraire – which sees the mass publication of new books between August and October, including 646 novels this year. 

Ten years on from that first summer and it’s time for la rentrée once again. We now do have children and, since my husband and I are both self-employed, we don’t work during the French summer-time, spending it at home together.

Today, after a summer of bare feet and at most sandals, we are putting our feet into socks again and for the girls there are new shoes and satchels. I’ve just dropped them off at their new school and I’ve a bouquet of sharpened pencils up here in my garret. The air smells of ripened grapes and it’s cool enough to let the morning air in through the windows. I’m all set.

And you? Êtes-vous prêt pour la rentrée?