One of the things I love about working at Four Colman Getty is that I’m never bored. September has been a brilliant example of why that is – there’s simply been no time for boredom with the plethora of projects we’ve been working on.
I mentioned last month that we were looking forward to Totally Thames - the first month-long festival of arts and culture along the 42-mile stretch of the Thames through London. What I hadn’t predicted was what enormous fun it was going to be to sail from Tower Bridge up to Nine Elms to view the HippopoThames in her autumn mooring. She was a joy to behold and has attracted no end of comment and attention from Londoners of every age. If you haven’t yet seen her she has now moved just round the corner to St Katharine Dock until the end of October.
Back in our London Bridge offices we’ve got two new senior level people on board. Natasha Bennett joined as Marketing & Digital Director at the end of August after working for almost a decade in marketing and brand management across the UK. Most recently Natasha worked for The Famous Grouse where she curated the first ever Famous Grouse Whisky and Music Festival. Another of her crowning achievements there was to produce the world’s largest bottle of whisky (standing 5ft 5” tall and holding 228 litres) which was then featured in The Guinness Book of Records.
Miriam Laverick recently joined us too to head up the campaigning team after four years at EngineeringUK. Her responsibilities there included a number of large-scale projects such as the annual Big Bang Fair, including the National Science & Engineering Competition, and Tomorrow’s Engineers Week. Both Natasha and Miriam have excellent connections across a wide range of sectors and specialisms and we’re very much looking forward to working with them.
The Man Booker Prize was even more in the media spotlight this year because of the recent change of rules which allowed writers of any nationality to be entered, as long as they were writing in English and were submitted by a UK publisher. Contrary to the naysayers’ fears, the shortlist announced earlier this month was not dominated by American writers. Instead the six authors were finely balanced across the Commonwealth, the US and the UK.
We celebrated the shortlist with a super party at Smiljan Radic’s Serpentine Pavilion. The champagne flowed and the sun shone on some very happy writers and publishers there that night. Newsnight went big on the story, with a crew at the press conference and a live debate in the studio over the importance of the now global prize.
On finding out he had been shortlisted (at 3am local time), Tasmanian Richard Flanagan said he was ‘speechless in Seattle… in equal parts astonished and delighted’.
There’s still time to place your bets before the winner is announced on 14 October – you can find out more about the 2014 list on this Newsnight clip or come along to the Southbank on Monday 13 October to see and hear all six writers on the eve of the winner announcement.
The fifteen-strong longlist for the 2014 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction - often referred to as the non-fiction Man Booker - was announced this month. The list, chosen by chair Claire Tomalin and judges Lorien Kite, Alan Johnson, Ray Monk and Ruth Scurr, include biography, memoir, histories, nature, science and current affairs and range from a woman’s story of training a goshawk, to the history of a slave rebellion to Nick Davies’s account of the recent phone hacking scandal (Hack Attack which Four Colman Getty launched in July). There’s been a fantastic response to the longlist, so watch out for the shortlist on 9 October.
Still in the world of books Liz Sich, Truda Spruyt and Chris Baker were at the heart of an international media storm surrounding the revelation of the real identity of Jack the Ripper. Such was the interest that our phones were ringing off the hook, with calls from as far afield as Australia, Japan, Canada, America and Brazil. The full story is told in Russell Edwards’ book, Naming Jack the Ripper, published by Sidgwick & Jackson.
Still on the theme of crime bestselling author and queen of crime Val McDermid published her 28th crime novel, The Skeleton Road, this month. Little, Brown had lauded the new thriller as ‘a standout in an extraordinary career’ and the reviews have borne that out. Literary Review described The Skeleton Road as ‘gripping, thought-provoking and original – a tour de force’ while the Express claimed ‘The Skeleton Road is McDermid back to doing what she does best: dispensing utterly riveting crime fiction’.
Val is indefatigable when it comes to interviews and her broadcast appearances ranged from BBC Radio 4 Saturday Live to The Arts Show on Radio 2 and the Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk. Print interviews included The Sunday Times News Review and the Sunday Express. Keen McDermid fans were also treated to a special short story – The Ministry of Whiskey – in a recent edition of popular woman’s magazine, My Weekly.
There was yet more crime for us in September with the launch of Sophie Hannah’s The Monogram Murders, the first- ever Hercule Poirot continuation novel.
We celebrated by taking over The Ritz, London to re-create the opening night of a fictional hotel from the novel, The Bloxham. Working with immersive theatre company RIFT, we welcomed over 100 guests who were then witnesses to three totally inexplicable murders…
Sophie was also star guest at the opening event of the Agatha Christie Festival in Torquay a couple of weeks later. An ‘in conversation’ with Sophie, Mathew Prichard, Agatha Christie’s grandson and David Brawn, her publisher at HarperCollins, drew a record crowd to Torre Abbey and the queue for a signed book after the event snaked round the block.
Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish For shot straight to number one where it stayed for over two weeks. Meanwhile Dame Mary Archer assembled a team of Great Dames to compete in the Chariots of Fire race in aid of the Arthur Rank Hospice in Cambridge. The team was coached from afar by Dame Edna Everage who sent this advice from Melbourne: ‘I love Danish pastries and these girls are just as scrumptious. Speaking as their personal trainer and nutritionist I am with them every sprint of the way. After all, I knitted their knickers.’ You can still donate here.
Somehow, in the midst of a very busy schedule of exciting new projects, Charlie Higson has found time to write another fantastically grizzly book, The Hunted. This is the sixth and penultimate book in his best-selling horror series The Enemy, which was published by Penguin at the start of September. With interviews in The Times and The Sunday Express, and appearances on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, BBC Radio2, 6Music, Classic FM, amongst others, it is great to see such an appetite for Charlie and his zombie tales of an apocalyptic London. We, along with his army of fans old and new, are eagerly awaiting the epic conclusion to the series next year!
We’re building up a good head of steam for the Women of the Year lunch which is taking place at the InterContinental Park Lane on Monday 13 October. I was thrilled to see that three of our clients – Sue Biggs, DG of the Royal Horticultural Society, Julia Fawcett, CEO of The Lowry and Dame Barbara Stocking, President of Murray Edwards College - are all on the guest list and I’m looking forward to celebrating with them on the day.
That’s all for now, more next month