“Here it is!” I hold up the proof copy of You’ll Never Walk Alone to Cynthia and Conner, who are sitting outside in the little garden wasteland outside Cynthia’s flat. It is pleasantly and unseasonably warm for an April afternoon in mid 80s Liverpool.
Connor stretches out his hand. “Let’s have a look then.”
I hand the pristine proof over to him. He turns it over in his hands and nods. “Look rather fine, I must say, Ms Hall. Worth the wait, so it is.” He flicks through the pages and frowns. “Print’s a bit small.”
Cynthia takes the book from him. She riffles the pages, holding it up to her face. “I love the smell of a new book.”
I nod and grin enthusiastically. “What do you think?”
“It’s very nice, my dear.” She looks at the pages more closely. “Oh look, Connor, there’s a little drawing of a cat here.” She holds the book out to him, open at the title page. “Is that my clever boy, Asmar?”
As if on cue, Cynthia’s beautiful Abyssinian cat emerges from the bushes and stretches languidly in front of us, mimicking the pose in the drawing.
Cynthia turns to the back cover. “Nice photograph of you, Ms Hall.”
“Thank you!” I smile delightedly.
“It must’ve been taken quite a while ago.”
I wince. Cynthia leans forward and pats my hand. “Well why not? None of us is getting any younger.”
Before I have the chance to reply, we hear voices coming around the side of the house. It’s Gina and Lucy. As soon as they see me, they call out in greeting. I hold up the second proof copy I have ordered for my household of characters.
“She has our book!” Lucy and Gina say together. Never mind that it’s my book. Whose name is on the cover?
They take it from me and sit down on the tatty wooden bench next to the wall. They exclaim in delight at the opening paragraphs. Lucy and Gina are, of course, in the opening scene. They start to read and for once they fall silent. After a couple of pages they look up. I can see in their eyes that they approve.
‘You’ll Never Walk Alone‘ a novel by Chris Hall will be published next month (we hope).