Autumn had arrived. Winter would follow in January 2018. The cycle continued with Spring, in March 2019.
Hannah: Spring was one of the first books I worked on from start to finish, and that was while I was on the traineeship, from September 2018 to March 2019, which was a unique way to get started in publishing.
Annie: I remember when Spring came in. We were in the office and you can see it on Simon’s desk. You’re keyed up, it’s almost as if you’re about to go on some really exciting adventure; you know it’s coming and you’re counting down the seconds until it comes to you and you can have your turn.
Hannah: I remember reading Spring overnight, I remember staying up late to read it. I remember feeling like I had this big exciting secret that everybody else was waiting for, and I had to myself.
Hermione: Spring, in particular, I found very, very affecting. About the resilience of nature, I guess, and the way that it persists regardless of what’s going on. Ali manages to offer the reader that consolation and that reassurance without ever disconnecting us from the ongoing moral responsibility of recognising what’s going on in the world – seeing it for what it is – which is a series of crises and atrocities. To hold those two things in balance and say, things will go on, but also we have a responsibility to change the world we live in.
Lindsay: Our ambition for Spring, three books in was to make it a Top Ten bestseller. For those two days waiting for that chart to come out, the anticipation really kept building. I remember Simon coming round to me at one point and saying, “Lindsay, I think we’re going to get Top 5,” and I said, “Well we might.” And then he came back again and he said “Lindsay, do you think we’re going get top 3?” I replied: “Maybe, we could. We’d need a spring miracle! But it’s possible to get to top 3.” And he replied, “Yes, yes, it would be a spring miracle!”
Ruppa: I didn’t have a feel for what was going to happen. I knew the ambition was there but I couldn’t tell. In terms of stock levels we probably did put similar stock levels out in the market.
Hermione: We get the results of the bestseller chart emailed every week, so if there’s a book that’s in a bestseller list we kind of all know at the same time, and go round to each other’s desks and celebrate a bit.
Lindsay: Of course, we got number one.
Simon: It felt like a miracle. Ali’s Jilly Cooper moment, as one of us joked when I called her, the instant after hearing.
Anna: I’m pretty sure there were tears. I think I probably cried, Lindsay would have cried.
Lindsay: Anna and I both cried, which sounds a little bit ridiculous but a number one feels like something beyond just a commercial success. It meant that people were reading this very important book at the kind of volume that actually can effect change, do you know?
Hermione: Ali had never charted in the Hardback Bestseller Top 10 before, and for her first entry to be number one, and for this incredibly risk-taking, brave, generous-spirited, totally sui generis piece of work felt, so joyful and special.
Ali: I don’t remember! I reckon I block this kind of thing. Fluke – not the kind of thing that happens to me, it’ll certainly never happen again.
Lindsay: I have wondered if it meant more to us than it did to her in a way. We told her and her response was just so characteristically Ali, she said, “It’s like Top of the Pops, and we’re toppling populism.”