"Also," said Jennifer Barth, my editor in New York, "What are you thinking in terms of an author photo for the new book?"
Hmm, I'm not sure I was thinking about it at all. Possibly that I might just get away with using the one that went out last time...have I changed that much in the three years (nearly) since it was taken? Some long hard stares into the bathroom mirror. Some even harder questions to long-suffering husband.
I don't really like having my photo taken. I'm not sure I ever did, being forensically self-critical and possibly a bit vain. Not that I think I'm marvellous in any way, you understand - it's more a question of wanting a bit of a break for trying hard with what I have. Or, these days, simply bearing up without recourse to anything stronger than Dior moisturising serum when women of my age (and much younger!) in the public eye have so often developed strange bulbous lips and oddly sculpted expressions.
The nuclear option would be to have a full makeover and airbrushed studio portrait. But for someone like me, is that just a bit desperate? And I do have an ace up my sleeve: the photographer Rebecca Eifion-Jones, whom I met through a friend, and who took the last set of author pics. She is quite simply brilliant. And it was only the thought of going along to see Bex, not in a scary studio, but in her own light-filled home in Kent that tipped the balance. For these kinds of pictures, she uses only natural light, of which she has an almost magical understanding.
So off I went this week. The most intervention I considered was going to get my hair cut - and then decided against, as hairdressers tend to take one look at my thick mop and go in for the kill, and it's weeks before I feel myself again. I got out of the car and straight into the shoot. Bex makes it all look so easy, chatting and laughing as she moves around with her camera, no fuss, no artifice, just her unerring eye.
I haven't yet seen the full results but she sent me some samples of what to expect, of which this is the one I like best. It may well end up on the book sleeve.