I made my first trip to the London Book Fair in 2004. I was there as a new independent publisher and was rushing around to to publishing events, but I also had a meeting scheduled with MQ Publications, a gift-book company with a fast-talking editor who had persuaded me to sign a contract to write a book for them. They had already chosen the illustrator and planned out the chapters. They had the title picked, too: The Armchair Environmentalist.
“I’m not an armchair kind of person,” I said. I was also concerned about the subtitle: Three Minutes A Day to Save the Planet. “You can’t save the planet in three minutes a day,” I said. The editor explained soothingly that that didn’t have to affect what I wrote, and told me that this book would be part of a new Greenpeace campaign to save ancient forests.
I had just signed the contract, hadn’t received the first part of the advance, and didn’t have a pub date. I thought we could iron out details when we met in London and then I would begin writing. I walked down the crowded aisles of the old exhibition hall and stood stock still when I saw MQP’s booth. It was – as you can see from this photo – my book. The Armchair Environmentalist, I discovered, was their lead title for the Summer/Autumn season.