the "agent's agent" in the world of publishing. It's not something I knew anything about. I knew Carole as a friend.
For those of you other regular readers of this blog Carole was the person I have referred to in the past few blog posts.
Carole was a massively important person in the world of publishing. Her importance could not and should not be underestimated. She had a list of big names and some bright new talent as well. She knew the publishing industry inside out. Carole knew how to negotiate, how to get the best for the authors she represented. Her job often sounded as if it was a constant round of lunches, dinners and parties. It was also damned hard work and long hours. She loved it and had no intention of retiring.
But, for me, Carole was a friend. She read my blog for years. At first I didn't know about it. I don't know how or when she started to read it but it can't have been too long after I started writing it but gradually she came to send me little comments - and sometimes longer ones. On a couple of occasions when I questioned whether anyone was even bothering to read it there were sharp remarks. "Well, I'm reading it. Keep writing it," was the first one. Later she told me, "I never miss it."
It seems she didn't either. Almost every day there would be a little tick on the Facebook page to let me know she had read it. Almost as often there would be a public comment there or a private one to me.
How in the hell did she find the time to read it - and not just read it, but comment? There were huge demands on her reading time. I felt, and still feel, immensely honoured that she not only read it but apparently wanted to read it. She encouraged me to keep writing, not just the blog but my other writing.
I don't write the sort of thing Carole represented. We both knew that. I would never have asked her to look at anything for me. We both knew that too. It didn't stop her keeping on at me. What was I writing? Had I sent anything off recently? I think she had more faith in me than I have in myself.
It would have been the middle of the night in London when she sent me a message saying she couldn't sleep so she was sitting up in bed reading a manuscript with the little shawl I had made for her draped around her shoulders. Recently she mentioned it again for much the same reason. She didn't sleep well.
Not that long ago Carole was diagnosed with bowel cancer. She had just one lot of treatment for that before she was hospitalised with another condition. Throughout it she sent messages to me. Some of them were public and others were private. She was determined to get over the diagnoses of both conditions. We agreed that, if she needed it, I'd knit her a purple chemo cap.
Yesterday there was an uncharacteristic silence. I knew she had gone home and "kissed the carpet" at being away from the hospital but then there were five and then six hours of silence. I told myself, "She's sleeping" but when another two hours passed I knew something had happened. I went to bed without any news, stopped myself getting up to check. What could I have done? But I "knew" in the way one does know these things.
I'll keep writing Carole. I'll honour your memory by doing that. I just wish I could knit you that damn chemo cap.