Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain leads list with non-fiction account of the roles she has played during her life; new novels from Dorothy Koomson, Deborah Moggach and Richard Lumsden
Headline unveiled 10 'greatest hits titles' for 2019 at a presentation in 100 Wardour Street, Soho, attended by authors and company top brass.
The evening used a breakfast TV-style sofa, with the evening's host, book blogger Simon Savidge (Savidge Reads), firing questions at the authors from an armchair.
Hussain (pictured) explained that her book, currently untitled and slated for release in October 2019, would be "about the different roles I play, wife, mother, daughter, cook etc. It's going to feel like a tell-all book but it isn't, it's the little memories that make up what I am." She has written 8,000 words so far.
In the book she will take readers into her upbringing in Bangladeshi-British household: "I want to tell people about it who wouldn't understand", right up to her current incarnation as cook and TV personality. "I'm this 5ft nothing cook in a world dominated by these six ft male chefs."
The presentation saw four other non-fiction titles. The first is Perfect Sound Whatever from stand-up comedian James Ancaster, who suffered a breakdown in 2017 when his girlfriend left him, and sought solace by obsessively buying every album released in 2016, the last year when he had been happy. In all he collected 450 albums from 75 countries, ranging from classics, to one of washing machines and another devoted entirely to wasps - he playing an excerpt from that, complete with obligatory Wasp Factory quote, to the audience. "People always ask - 'How do you discover new music?' Have a breakdown!" he concluded.
Sinclair McKay took to the stage to talk about his Secret Service Brainteasers, sequel to the bestselling Bletchley Park Brainteasers, which has a series of puzzles and tests to establish if readers have what it takes to join MI6, including codes, maths puzzles and memory exercises. Sample question: how do you arrive at the number 100 from four nines, using only -x etc? (Answer: 99 (9/9=1)=100)
Also on stage was Debbie Frank, Princess Diana's astrologer, with her guide to astrology Written in the Stars, and Rhik Samadder, whose I Never Said I Loved You is an account of his recovery from depression.
Dorothy Koomson and Deborah Moggach led the fiction, with Koomson talking about new her new thriller, Tell Me Your Secret (June), about a serial kidnapper of women, whilst Moggach spoke wittily about The Carer (July), a novel about an elderly professor, his carer, and his adult children who won't look after him.
Moggach was inspired to write about the tensions created by extreme old age in part because it is a burgeoning phenomenon. "When we think we are about to die, we get hauled off and made better. Where I live is full of people in their 80s, striding the length of Offa's Dyke, all going on five holidays a year, spending their children, and their grandchildren's, inheritance. My theory is that we should have trained marksmen at National Trust properties to cull us and give the young people a chance."
Actor-turned-novelist Richard Lumsden also addresses the theme of old age in his The Six Loves of Billy Binns (January), about the oldest man in England recalling in detail the loves that have defined his long and eventful life.
The two other titles presented were the thrillers As Cold as the Grave, by James Oswald, and Blood Orange, by Harriet Tyce.
Afterwards guests, authors and publishers mingled at the bar, where the Foyles takeover by Waterstones was a common topic of conversation. There was confidence that Foyles could be run by Waterstones successfully as a larger version of Hatchards, but that the story for both retailers could change when the American VCs want to get their cash out of Waterstones in three to five years.