My book has gone to press
The first time I interviewed Charlotte Roach, I was in my bed, a hot water bottle burning my stomach, exhausted, wanting nothing more than to turn off the phone and the keyboard and close my eyes, my brain, close it all.
Instead I called a semi-stranger, a friend’s friend nicknamed Roach. The line kept breaking up. “I’m sorry,” she apologised from the start. “I’m on a train. Can you call me in a bit? An hour?”
It was late and I was tired. I wanted to interview her for a story I was doing for The Independent looking at athletes at Oxbridge. Someone had told me about Roach. Someone told me she was amazing.
“One hour,” I agreed, annoyed. Tired.
After that second call, I fell in love a bit. Sometimes, when interviewees fascinate me, when their stories wrap around my mind with words and sounds, I fall in love with them, the idea of them, the ideas of their worlds.
I emailed Roach the next day. “I want to pitch a story on you to the Guardian. Would you mind?”
“That’s fine.” I didn’t know it then, but that was the easy sort of genuine warmth which marked Roach’s character. She didn’t expect it of me. But when I came, asking, wanting something of her, she agreed.
The editor liked the story. It went up on the Guardian.
A week later, maybe two, Nick Sidwell messaged me. “I read your story. I think it’s interesting. Would you consider a book?”
I have always considered a book. From the time I was six, seven, from the time I could push sentences across paper and sit in my closet writing stories about my cat, I considered a book.
“Do you think there’s more in the story?” He questioned on a call later that afternoon. “I mean, more to Charlotte, the experience?”
“Yes. She raised a lot of money for the air ambulance. She cycled from Beijing. Of course there’s more.”
“Then let’s talk about this book…”
And now, months later, months and months later, it’s gone live. Here it is. The Roach book. Charlotte’s story. I feel grateful, terrified, humbled, but most of all blessed by this chance and the opportunity, and by all the amazing people who rallied around me to help make this possible.
All my royalties are going to the air ambulance that saved Charlotte’s life.
It only seemed fitting.