Early in 2016 I was sitting in the Camden Brewdog enjoying a pint of Punk IPA (btw if you're ever in the position of owing me a drink, that'll be the drink I'm after) - I was waiting to meet a prospective author who had got in touch a couple of weeks earlier.
These meetings are always interesting - especially when the authors I'm meeting are new to the game, they're often nervous and never quite sure what to expect from their first meeting with an 'actual publisher'. There's a bit of me that kinda enjoys the slight look of panic that falls across their faces when they realise that the 'actual publisher' they've come to meet is that punky looking guy in the corner with the weird hair, the walking stick and the skull jewellery.
In this case though it was me who was a little nervous. Nervous because I was meeting Paul Charles - an author of some repute for sure, but more famous to me as one of the most legendary music promoters in London. His roster of artists reads like a who's who of the music industry - artists like Crosby Stills & Nash, Ray Davies, Elvis Costello, John Lee Hooker, Robert Plant, Tom Waits, Van Morrison, The Waterboys and The Undertones. You get the picture - in the Camden music scene he's about as close to royalty as you can get. He walked in, a striking man - dapper I suspect is a word specifically created for him. We sat down and in the words of Christy Moore (one of the artists he represents) - "he called for a drink, then I called for a drink, then we both sat down and we had a drink..."
A scheduled half-hour meeting soon stretched to 2 then 3. The talk was easy, open, friendly. He liked Fahrenheit and what we were trying to do and I'd been a fan of his books for over 20 years. It was clear we'd be able to work together and by the end of the meeting we'd agreed that Fahrenheit would publish his new book One Of Our Jeans Is Missing (which we have -it's a belter - you can find it here).
But that wasn't the end of it. During the conversation we had started to talk about his Christy Kennedy books. There are 10 of them, all set around Camden, Chalk Farm and Primrose Hill and intersecting the worlds of crime and the music industry. Frankly they could have been written especially for Fahrenheit - they perfectly link together all the DNA strands at the heart of our publishing house.
Crime, Music, Camden - seriously if you slapped a decent haircut on them and a pair of hips I could get to grips with I'd be duty bound to sleep with them.
The Christy Kennedy books had never been published as eBooks so based on the motto "if you don't ask you don't get" I made him an offer.
Paul smiled and said he'd think about it.
I thought i'd blown it.
A couple of days later though he got in touch and told me he'd decided to throw the dice and trust us with all 10 Kennedy books - initially we signed a deal for eBooks only but I'm delighted to say that since then we've agreed to publish new paperback editions of all 10 books too.
Literally another dream come true for me courtesy of Fahrenheit.
As many of you know I've got a 30+ year connection with Camden.
It's where I ended up when I packed up my eyeliner and ran away from the mean streets of Glasgow. I was looking for somewhere more conducive to peacock-strut in Cuban heels and I found that place in Camden Town. I'll never forget the first day I walked onto Camden High Street back in the mid-eighties and clocked that EVERYONE there was dressed like me. Head to toe leather and lace with rainbow hair and eyeliner that screamed Lucretia Borgia. I knew then I was home.
While I was waiting to get my big break as a rockstar one of my day jobs was working as a florist in Primrose Hill. The Christy Kennedy books bring back so many memories from that time - they're full of recognisable characters and locations that I hung out in daily. Pubs like The Queens and The Engineer are still regular haunts - though sadly some of the old skool businesses like Welsh's Hardware have taken a property developers bullet to the head. If you've ever walked through Primrose Hill with me you'll have heard all my stories about the now defunct Chalk Farm Tavern, about Mr Mustoe (a restaurateur who if he didn't exist you'd have to invent), about Glen Gregory's whippets, about the scandalous affairs of the rich & famous conducted over the candlelit tables at Odettes, about the late night poker games in the greek garage and about hanging around Mayfair studios like a bad smell waiting for my big break that never came. These Kennedy books bring all of those memories flooding back in technicolour. Paul Charles isn't just a master storyteller he's also a chronicler of an area of London I love.
Essentially where Oxford has Morse, Camden has Kennedy.
Today we've published the first 3 books in the series - the other 7 with follow over the next month or two.
If you remember them from first time around take the time to revisit them - i promise you won't regret it.
If they're new to you, settle down somewhere quiet and get ready to enjoy some genuinely top quality crime writing from a master of the genre.
The Christy Kennedy books resonate for me on a whole bunch of levels and I hope they will with you too. They're a rare treat. Enjoy.