I am an ungrateful turd. I have two novels published by Penguin and a raft of amazing reviews. I can work in bed should the mood take me and I no longer leave an office at 10pm. Had somebody told me a few years ago that this would be possible I would have laughed darkly and muttered things like, ‘Begone, you rotten stinker. That will never happen.’ And yet it’s true!
Which makes me feel pretty ashamed of the sulk I have been in since my first novel came out.
‘What is this sulk?’ You might be thinking. (Not to mention, ‘This girl is horrible. Where is her gratitude?’)
The sulk, I’m ashamed to admit, was that I had never caught anyone reading my book on the underground. Looking around furtively for your book cover on a busy tube must surely be the #1 pastime of every London-based writer – and yet, unless you are the writer of Fifty Shades it’s probably a waste of time.
I’d stare at everyone’s books, hoping that they would morph into mine. I’d squint ‘unobtrusively’ over commuters’ shoulders to see if they were reading it on their e-readers: they were not.
Then last week: IT HAPPENED! I was on the Jubilee Line, heading west from Stratford. It was the middle of the day and the train was almost empty. As I stared longingly at a girl’s handbag across the aisle I was accosted by – and my heart pretty much stopped – the sight of MY BOOK emerging from it! My book! In a Marc Jacobs tote! I nearly died!
Next: what to do? Obviously any decent writer would just raise a nonchalant eyebrow and carry on. Not Lucy Robinson. First, I tried to take an unobtrusive phone picture. My flash went off for no apparent reason. Then, knowing that I was being appalling but too joyous and excited to stop, I got up, plonked myself down next to her and said, ‘Hi! Thank you so much for buying my book! I’m Lucy Robinson!’
The girl looked at me. ‘Oh,’ she said coolly. ‘That’s why you were taking a photograph of me.’
‘Ho hum, erm,’ I blustered. Then I smiled guiltily. ‘Sorry. I’m just so excited.’
The girl sighed. ‘So I see.’
I was crushed, but took it like a man. ‘Well, sorry to bother you,’ I muttered, going back over to my seat and feeling like an insufferable fool.
And then the best thing happened. The girl said, ‘Oi, Lucy.’
‘Hmmm?’ I mumbled.
‘I love this book,’ she grinned. ‘Well done.’
Don’t tell anyone but I had a little cry when I got off at Waterloo. It’s ridiculous; it’s sad. But seeing a real-life human reading my real-life book was hands down the best moment of my career.
A Passionate Love Affair with a Total Stranger by Lucy Robinson is out now!