Saturday, September 29, 2012
50th party blog guest - India Grey
I’ve known India Grey since she first sold to M&B. And I met her when I was in bossy PTA chair mode. You want the full story? It was Kate Walker’s celebration for her 50th book, and it struck me that we would all be taking her a present, and wouldn’t it be so much nicer if we all clubbed together and got her something REALLY special to mark the occasion? So I sent India a quick email, explaining that we hadn’t actually met and I wasn’t a total nutter, but would she like to join in with a big present for Kate… and I had this lovely, ‘What, THE Kate Hardy?’ email back. (It still puts a smile on my face today. Actually, I did the same thing when Caroline Anderson first rang me. ‘What, THE Caroline…?’ And Caroline still teases me about it years and years later.)
India is absolutely the most stylish person I know. She’s the one I squeaked to when I was doing a spread in the local paper (a Valentine dinner, using recipes from my books) and two days before the photo shoot I realised I didn’t actually own an apron and I needed a massive amount of style help, pronto. (India came straight back with suggestions, including web links and photographs, and helped me choose an Emma Bridgewater apron.) And I’ve borrowed some of her jewellery and fashion sense for my more stylish heroines. I was delighted to be at an RNA lunch when we’d both been shortlisted for an award and I could cheer her as the winner. (I admit that I do envy her trophy. I didn’t have a trophy, the year I won, though I did spend the entire prize money on a Pandora bracelet and three beads to commemorate it.)
Anyway, over to India:
I’m writing this on my first day back at my desk after the annual Mills and Boon author lunch and toast, where I saw Kate (looking extremely glamorous) receive her pin for 50 books. The rousing applause that accompanied this was a reflection of how much she’s loved by her fellow writers and all at Mills and Boon.
It’s easy to understand why. As a newly-signed writer I was shocked and more than a little starstruck to see her name appear in my email inbox one day, and incredibly touched that she introduced herself by explaining who she was, LIKE I HADN’T BEEN A FAN FOR AGES. Since then we’ve shared more than a few laughs about that. We’ve shared a lot of other stuff too. Stuff About kids (our youngests are the same age), stuff about heroes and writing. Stuff about what to wear for Posh Events and where to go on holiday; stuff about favourite tea and chocolate and shops. But one of the things I love sharing between us most is stuff about music.
I can’t remember where it started, or what were the first recommendations we swapped, but I do know that my CD collection and i-pod playlists are fuller and richer and considerably more fun for Kate’s influence. This is a girl who knows her music, and it was she that I turned to (or emailed) when I needed a classical piece for a particular scene in a book. The Chopin she suggested was perfect, but the amazing thing about Kate is she’s just as hot on contemporary things that hit the spot too. Exotically-named bands I’d never have come to know without her, like Dexter Freebish and Porcupine Tree, new or lesser-known songs by artists I might have already heard of but never really listened to (hope she’ll forgive the poor grammar in that sentence!)
I thought for ages about what music to share here (in fact I had to resort to an hour-long mid-morning bath, with my best and most inspiring bath oil and my i-pod on shuffle) and in the end decided on Frisky and Mannish, who I haven’t yet shared with Kate. I chose them because they’re talented and creative and original, like she is, and because this song – a mash up between Kate Bush and Kate Nash, is the ultimate celebration of All Things Kate. And because it always makes me feel better – just like Kate’s books. (Check out their Lily Allen/Noel Coward mash-up as well, and the Question song and the Busted tribute...)
Congratulations on 50 witty, wise and wonderful books, Kate, and (in the words of ABBA) thank you for the music! (and everything else).
I can’t give away music, so instead I’m going to parcel up some of the other things Kate and I have shared – chocolate and books – in return for the names of some of the songs that mean something to you, or that you’ve shared with special people in your life. I’d love to look them up and have a listen!
You can find out more about India at her website http://www.indiagrey.com or on her blog at http://indiagrey.blogspot.co.uk
Or follow her on Twitter @indiagrey