We were a very new press, barely begun. The daughter of an old school friend had been diagnosed with cancer and was writing a blog. A bunch of us who’d been at school together began to read it. One of our group, illustrator Fifi Colston, sent me an email: ‘You could do worse than make a book about this.’ I agreed. This young woman knew how to write. Her blog posts had strong read-me titles and energetic don’t-argue-with-me first lines. They were focused on one event or idea and they told that story with economy and humour and knew where to end. She didn’t feel sorry for herself. She celebrated life. She often said how lucky she was.
Harriet came to meet with us – that’s me and my son and publishing sidekick Paul Stewart – in our shoebox office. This vibrant young woman with creamy skin and a red shiny coat that squeaked when she walked, who adored food – brownies, pizza – and friends and skiing, had osteosarcoma and things weren’t looking good, but she had an enormous love of life and capacity for hope. She was 19, after all. We talked about what a book would look like.