The Palace of Curiosities Launch, 27.3.2013, Waterstones Deansgate, Manchester.

The Arvon Foundation The Arvon Foundation

However many readings I've done (and I've done plenty over the *ahem* years) this one was different. This was The Big One. I was so nervous I couldn't sit still. Seventy tickets pre-sold, and 30 more folk turned up on the night. The room was packed: standing room only. I found out afterwards that Waterstones had to shift the event to the largest room they had.

There was my novel, stacked on a table. Posters with my name. No, I didn't think I'd ever get to this point, yet here I was.

The audience were, in a word, wonderful: so much love and generosity. What an astonishing launch event. I honestly don't think it could have been better. Waterstones even sold out of books! I thought no-one bought hardback fiction any more. Clearly I was wrong. The manager emailed me and said the event was 'one of the best of Deansgate's history'. What, me? Yes, I'm stunned.

There's been some great feedback – the mistressful Elizabeth Baines has posted a blog review of the night, here:

And what a sign-off! 'The characters are fascinating, and Victorian London is vividly captured, and of course the language sparkles like sharp-cut jewels.'

The Palace of Curiosities is number one in the Waterstones hardback fiction chart!

This is amazing news. Picture snapped 16th April 2013 at Waterstones Deansgate in Manchester. If you look closely there's a black sticker on each cover, reading 'Signed By The Author'.