... this is what happened on a very chilly February morning earlier this year! A fantastic photoshoot at Trader Vic's, the gloriously old-school Honolulu-chic bar in the basement of the Hilton Park Lane. (With rather wonderful serendipity my parents went on their first date there - Mum took the tropical flower out of her blue cocktail, put it behind her ear and - well, I don't want to ruin reputations or anything, but let's just say that my father was smitten.)
The girls in this photo are, from left to right:
the sublimely elegant Victoria Fox, whose butter-wouldn't-melt appearance belies the blush-making raunch of her unputdownable novels (think a younger, sexier Jackie Collins and you're only halfway there!);
moi - with flower firmly behind ear;
my lovely pal Carrie Duffy, whose books are beautifully-written, glamorous and sexy as hell - don't be fooled by that angelic smile (a theme appears to be emerging here);
ah - the wonderful Belinda Jones herself, the brains behind the whole operation; the Svengali, the Maestro, possessor of extraordinary vision and brilliant writer of 11 much-loved novels that take you to (almost) every corner of the globe;
instantly likeable and friendly Michelle Gorman - a wise American in a sea of chattering Brits - whose first book, Single in the City, was described by Novel Escapes as: 'like Sex and the City told through the eyes of
an American Bridget Jones... it was so funny that I laughed out loud...';
Anna-Lou Weatherley - ha! Difficult to know where to start, but she's an absolute one-off. As well as writing glamorous and intriguingly dark novels, Anna-Lou teaches pole dancing and is probably the only one of us who looks just as glam in real life as she does in these pictures;
cool Lucy Robinson. You can tell just by looking at her that she's fun, can't you? Her first book, The Greatest Love Story of All Time, had me laughing and crying simultaneously within the first few chapters.
From left to right: Rosie Blake, Kate Harrison, Abby Clements, Emma Garcia, Chrissie Manby, Ilana Fox, Molly Hopkins. Wonderful writers, to a woman.
But to what end such glamour?
Well, I did mention in an earlier blog that I was thrilled to be part of the Sunlounger anthology of travel-based short stories by female authors, coming out on the 1st of July. The range of destinations is extraordinary, from St Tropez (moi) to Dubai to Argentina to Tuscany to Thailand to... oh just look at them all here!
More than half of the contributors to the anthology couldn't make the photo shoot. Look at all the names here, and I defy you not to agree with me that this book is going to be the ultimate summer beach read.
Carrie and I (top right) possibly outstayed our welcome partying with the team that made it all happen (spot TV's ever-entertaining Nigel May -the sole male contributor - and best-seller Tasmina Perry in these pics). At one very blurry stage I seem to recall a random Frenchman trying to lure Carrie up to his suite (trying being the operative word, natch). And the absurd grimace in the second picture is me trying to practise pouting (Anna-Lou had been teaching us earlier).
The Cote d'Azur has a place in my heart as my Dad had a villa company there in the Seventies - meaning that we spent every summer on that idyllic coast for at least 6 years. Going back to school in rainy September was always a bit of a shock to the system (although, nerd that I am, I kind of relished the return to lessons).