Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Mince Pies and Sweeney Todd

What do you do if your publisher invites you for mulled wine and mince pies, but their offices overlook the former shop of Sweeney Todd Demon Barber of Fleet Street?
Accept and vow not to touch the mince pies? Warn everyone else not to touch the pies? Pretend to eat a pie but secretly drop it behind the book displays?
Answers on a postcard please.

As many of you know, my great passion is History and so imagine my delight when my editor, the lovely Lucy Cuthew, at Meadowside Children's Books,  informed me that their offices off Fleet Street overlooked Sweeney Todd's barber shop. The pie shop was next door."We get tour groups down there all the time, " Lucy said as we looked down into the Hen and Chicken Court from the fourth floor windows. "They love it, snapping away like mad."

So of course when I returned last week for the Meadowside Christmas Party I took my camera.
Here's the entrance to the courtyard, off 186 Fleet Street. Spooky, isn't it? You can almost imagine Sweeney Todd hurrying down there to his next victim, saying a cheery hello to the pie man as they squeeze past each other, water dripping down the walls and mangy stray cats brushing against their legs. Gorgeous!

The gruesome site itself, in all it's Victorian glory ( or should that be gory?) Sweeney Todd's window is on the right hand side above the wheelie bin.  Imagine what the dastardly barber would have done with wheelie bins!
The courtyard has very deep cellars too and you can look down into them through huge iron grids. Very grim, like some deep medieval dungeon prison.

But fortunately the Meadowside offices are lovely and bright and there was a real surprise of a welcome when I finally reached the fourth floor ( toilets on the floor below.) "We've got something to show you," said Lucy with a grin and pulled me to a bookshelf display at the back of the room. And there is was! My novel, HIDDEN, in proper novel format! I was so excited.
Here I am with Lucy proudly showing off our hard work!

It was a lovely party. I saw some old friends, Lynne Chapman and Anne Rooney, from Facebook, SAS and SCWBI. Made some new friends and got a bit squiffy on the mulled wine. I even bravely ate half a mince pie and it was ok - promise. I had a lovely chat to the publisher, Simon Rosenheim who talked about how fiercely independent Meadowside is  and I said I felt really at home here. Its good to have a publisher who is 100% behind your ideas. I also talked to Catherine about foreign rights and New York Art Galleries and to Rupert about sales. Meadowside publishes over 40 titles a year and has an established reputation for good books. That feels the right place to be. 2011 is going to be a great year!


  1. Lovely blog Miriam. So glad you are happy there but then I am slightly biased. I love the cover of your novel. It will really stand out.

  2. Great post! I don't know if I could have eaten the mince are a brave one! ;) Also, I love the cover of your book. I keep looking at it going, I want to open that door?... It seems like a great way to grab people before they ever start reading.

  3. Glad you both like the cover and Jessica, of course I felt sooo brave!

  4. Looks like it was an excellent party. Love the photo of you with your editor and THE BOOK! Apparently Sweeney Todd had a swivel chair positioned over a trap door so never mind the mince pies, I'm glad you didn't sit on any swivel chairs!


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