Thursday, 19 February 2015

Helen Lederer's Losing It

The first time I met Helen was at her Christmas party a couple of years ago (or, to give it its full and proper title, the Best Christmas Party Ever). I was there because my writer buddy extraordinaire, Kathryn Eastman, is friends with Helen, and I'd been invited along as the friend of a friend. I stood behind Kath at the front door, feeling a bit nervous and shy, wondering what Helen would be like, and then the door opened and light spilled from the house, illuminating a petite blonde lady in a beautiful black dress.

'Kath!' Helen said, giving her a huge excited hug before turning to me. 'You!' she said, giving me the same hug. It was the most perfect way of making me feel instantly at ease and thoroughly welcomed - and, after meeting Helen a few times, this is exactly what she is always like - warm, fun, and totally lovely.

And now I have her debut novel Losing It in my hands. The story revolves around the character of debt-ridden, divorced, and totally desperate Millie, who, at the age of fifty-something, has been given the opportunity to rid herself of financial woe by losing weight. However, being the front-woman for a promotional diet feature may not be the answer to happiness that Millie is banking upon! Losing It is laugh-out-loud funny, wickedly observant, and is every bit as entertaining as the author herself. Helen's personality simply shines through the pages.

Book launch the First
The first book launch, or rather, the pre-launch blogger's party, was held at Blacks Club in Soho, London. Blacks is hidden within one of those elegant addresses on Dean Street - a house that still looks like it did in its Georgian heyday.  The party started at 4pm, and as we were ushered downstairs to the basement bar, it was like each step had swiftly transferred us through time from a quiet afternoon into a raucous evening already at full-swing. A crowded room of laughter, wine, and book chat awaited us, and it was great to catch up with Cesca Major, to say hello to her literary agent, Clare Wallace, and to meet new folk such as Jane, the lady behind the great blog My Midlife Fashion. I blame Cesca in an entirely nice way for highlighting the macarons laid out for the party, which led to a chain of thought that was simultaneously happy (oh wow, these are the best macarons ever!), sad (I am not a member of Blacks, how will I ever eat these again?) and slightly sneaky (can I make friends with a Blacks member solely to come back for the macarons?), thus revealing no doubt too much of my true personality.

Before I lose it entirely on a sugary tangent (see what I did there?) it was time to hear from the author. Standing on a chair, book lit up from mobile phone torches, Helen's speech was incredibly funny (which had nothing to do with the wine) and she gave a reading from the book. To my total happiness, this was recorded and look below to the right - it's me! In Helen's video! I am the lady wielding the wine glass (as a prop, you understand, but luckily not stuffing my face full of macarons; it was a close call). So from now on (in my mind) this video is Helen reading to me, an exclusive.

The second book launch, celebrating the fact that Losing It is out now in all good bookshops, was at the Hospital Club in Covent Garden.

Book launch the Second
 Another packed room full of warm celebration - people threading their way through the crowd to congratulate Helen, people happily flicking through the pages of the book, people gathering in excited circles to talk about Losing It. Here I had a lovely chat with the artist Jessica Ecott, and it was good to see author DJ Connell again, as well as a quick catch up with Katy Kendrick and her friends. 

So now Losing It has been well and truly launched, and I am enjoying reading about Millie's escapades. And with the book gaining accolades from such luminaries as Stephen Fry, Dawn French, Ben Elton, and Joanna Lumley, I'm in very good company indeed!

Praise for Losing It by Helen Lederer
Stephen Fry - 'Desperately funny, desperately engaging, desperately readable and desperately adorable.'
Dawn French - 'Helen Lederer is the third funniest woman in the world. Read this!'
Ben Elton - ‘Helen is a wonderfully funny woman. I’ve known her for thirty-three years and always thought she should write a novel. She took her time but it’s worth the wait.’
Joanna Lumley -‘A brilliant creation: scene after scene of blissful agony: savagely funny and I couldn't put it down.'

Read a fantastic interview with Helen on Kathryn Eastman's Nut Press blog.
Buy Losing It from Waterstones | FoylesAmazon | or local bookshops!