There are some daydreams that remain with you throughout your life, as your ultimate benchmark of success.  For me, sitting on the sofa with Richard and Judy, discussing a book I’d written that they’d personally chosen for their book club, was one of those. Before I’d even written a paragraph of a novel, I’d fantasised about getting that call to say ‘this is it. You’re in!’

Can you imagine then my reaction when I got off a plane in France in May this year to a flood of phone messages from my giddily-excited agent, Felicity, editor, Jane, and publicist, Alison, telling me that Dangerous Crossing, my first historical novel under the name Rachel Rhys, had been picked as an R&J autumn book club selection? Now imagine, if you will, how it felt to walk into a basement room in a London boutique hotel last month and find Richard and Judy eating croissants and waiting to tell me their thoughts on my book. My book! Talk about dreams coming true.

Granted, in my more youthful daydreams my hair wasn’t quite so grey, and I was a lot cooler and gave far wittier replies, but it was the same Richard and Judy, the same sofa (or maybe one very similar), the same sense of excitement and stunned disbelief as I’d always imagined.

And yes, in answer to your questions, Richard is just as handsome as he appears, and Judy is just as lovely and they are both hugely professional and best of all, utterly passionate about books.

And no, I didn’t cry, or freeze up or fall to the floor at their feet gibbering ‘but you’re actual Richard and Judy’. Although afterwards, unable to talk to anyone about it as the lists are so shrouded in secrecy, I did start to wonder whether it had really happened at all. So I was glad when Alison sent me this snatched photograph (even if I look 105 years old – what’s with my hair?). Whenever it started to seem unreal I looked at it and thought:  no, that really is me on the sofa, between Richard and Judy.

And now I’m finally allowed to mention it, I find I don’t really have the words aside from  ‘overwhelmed’, ‘ecstatic’ and ‘so bloody grateful’.

(More behind-the-scenes R&J revelations coming up in my next newsletter, so sign up if you haven’t already)

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