Richard Osman, Ali Smith and Dolly Alderton were among the line-up of authors at a packed Penguin General 2020 Spring Showcase on Thursday night (13th September).
Held at the Tanner Warehouse in Bermondsey, Cathy Rentzenbrink hosted a roster of the publisher’s most talked about authors.
They included Osman, who revealed more details of his highly-anticipated first novel The Thursday Murder Club, out on 3rd September 2020, which was bought by Viking editorial director Katy Loftus in a 10-publisher auction for a seven-figure sum earlier this year.
Osman told the audience he had written the book in secret for 18 months before taking it to agents so he could see “the whites of their eyes” when they told him if it was any good.
Cathy Rentzenbrink and Richard Osman
It tells the story of four people in a retirement home who investigate a real life grisly murder, against the wishes of the police. “I’m not saying if they do solve it or not,” joked Osman, “but it would be a fucking weird book if they didn't.”
The "Pointless" host told the crowd that writing a crime novel was a dream come true, saying: “I've absolutely loved it and I'm about to start the second one. I'd love to do it for the next 20, 30 years. I love it more than presenting telly.”
Elsewhere on the bill, Smith spoke about her seasons series of novels, with Summer coming on 2nd July 2020, a book she hasn’t written yet. The manuscript for each of the novels is handed in six weeks before publication to keep them fresh, a process for which she thanked her publishing team for “making the impossible possible”.
Publisher Venetia Butterfield interviewed Rosamund Lupton about Three Hours, out on 9th January 2020, a “shocking” novel about a school siege, while John Preston revealed details of Fall, a biography of Robert Maxwell he described as “Citizen Kane, The Great Gatsby and King Lear all rolled into one”.
Everything I Know About Love (Fig Tree) author Alderton read a section of her debut novel, Ghosts, which follows a 32-year-old food writer whose life is falling apart, exploring the dating scene and impact of dementia along the way. Alderton said she had turned to fiction because “I finally got bored of writing about myself.”
Also on the night, Sophie Mackintosh discussed Blue Ticket, an inquiry into free will and motherhood out on 18th June, Nikita Lalwani was interviewed about You People, published on 11th June, and Ann Napolitano talked about Dear Edward, due on 27th February.
Joanna Prior, m.d. of Penguin General, told the audience: “There really couldn't be a more important time for books and authors to take their place in this very strange world that we're living in at the moment. They help to both distract us and instruct us as we try and navigate the crazy times in which we live. Whether that's through helping us to understand things or, indeed, helping us to forget them and just dive deep into a fabulous plot or understand the point of view of someone else altogether different from ourselves.”