Pianist James Rhodes, comedian Bill Bailey, actor Greg Wise and TV presenter Katie Piper were among the Quercus authors appearing at an evening for booksellers hosted by the publisher at London cabaret venue Cafe de Paris last night (23rd May).
Quercus' first guest, in conversation with Cathy Rentzenbrink, was "feminist powerhouse" Louise O'Neill, who wrote Only Ever Yours and Asking for It to start conversations about body image and consent. O'Neill told the room she had to take a break from Twitter for her mental health after she was trolled for what she had to say about rape culture, even receiving death threats. Of her latest book, Almost Love, her first novel avowedly for adults, she said it was in the editing stages ("where the real work is") while she is also currently drafting the screenplay for Only Ever Yours.
James Rhodes, author of How to Play the Piano, part of Quercus' new Little Ways to Live a Big Life series, played several pieces, including a prelude by Bach, to a transfixed room, one of which he dedicated to the people of Manchester, referencing this week's terror attack. He talked about his new book coming out in January, called Fire on All Sides, and spoke about music as a great "unifier".
Christophe Galdard, who in the past has worked under the supervision of Professor Stephen Hawking, took to the stage to share his special talent - accessibly explaining the laws of physics. His forthcoming book on the theory of relativity, How to understand E=mc2, is also part of the Little Ways to Live a Big Life series.
Left to right: Quercus publisher Jane Wood, Hazel Broadfoot of Village Books, Dulwich, and crime writer Elly Griffiths at the Café de Paris
Crime writer Elly Griffiths told how a visit to the chalk undercroft beneath Jarrold's in Norwich inspired her latest Dr Ruth Galloway novel, The Chalk Pit; Christopher Fowler shared his fascination with authors whose work is no longer remembered, in The Book of Forgotten Authors; and Jo Spain the merits of the psychological thriller ahead of The Confession publishing in January. "The thing about the psychological thriller is you really have freedom [...] you can come up with deliciously bad people," Spain said.
Susan Wightman, author of Book Typography: A Designer's Manual, told the room she got her latest manual, Typographic Style Handbook, off to press just prior to the presentation. Notable typographers on Wightman's whistlestop tour of fonts included "dog botherer" Eric Gill of Gill Sans fame.
Other guests included award-winning translator Frank Wynne, and in-conversations with consultant oncologist Sam Guglani, author of Histories, TV presenter Katie Piper, on the topic of her new book Confidence, and Greg Wise about the book, Not That Kind of Love, which he wrote with his late sister Clare Wise, exploring his experience as her carer last year before her death of bone cancer. In a powerful interview about society's attitude to death, Wise said: "We seem to have no relationship with death at all - we are all in beautiful denial... Death is a very important part of our life; we need to talk about the leaving as much as about the coming in."
The evening was rounded off with an appearance from Bill Bailey. He spoke on the topic of his next book with Quercus, the paperback edition of Bill Bailey's Remarkable Guide to British Birds, drawing the biggest laugh after Amazon took the shine off the book's success in hardback as an item "frequently bought" with a £14 "I Love Tits" mug.