The Grand Staircase of the St Pancras Midland Grand Hotel, which is about to open after years of renovation
. I have a tender spot for the place: it was the setting for the opening of my novel Fairyland
, and very early on its hapless hero sweeps down this very staircase:
Gilbert Scott's great curving stair takes Alex down to the busy lobby. He shakes out his black, wide-brimmed hat (yeah, Oscar Wilde) and claps it onto his head, trying to look nonchalant despite the ball of acid cramping his stomach. A doorman in plum uniform and top hat opens a polished plate glass door and Alex walks out into bronze sunlight and the roar of traffic shuddering along Euston Road.
To the north, black rainclouds are boiling up, bunching and streaming as if on fast-forward. There's a charge in the air; everyone is walking quickly, despite the heavy heat. Every other person carries an umbrella. It's monsoon weather.
was published sixteen years ago, while the hotel was still more or less a wreck (a great collection of pre-renovation photographs can be found here
, showing what it looked like when I visited it, during a Christmas Art Fair, about a decade ago). Fifteen years ago, it won the Arthur C. Clarke Award - the first but by no means the last Clarke Award success for my publisher, Gollancz. To celebrate the anniversary, and the e-publication of various of my backlist titles, including Fairyland
, there's a bit of promotion
going on at their site right now, complete with a competition. Adam Roberts has put up a generous and long review of Fairyland
(first published in a book about Clarke Award winners) on his blog, and there'll be other stuff turning up here and there too, including a special Gollancz newsletter, and some kind of competition for free books right here on the blog, towards the end of this week.