Science and the City: T-1 month

Well. It’s all getting very, very real now. In one month, on 11 August, my city-inspired baby will be released into the world… or at least to Europe, Oz and NZ. The US publication date isn’t until 25 October, I’m afraid. But regardless of where you are, Science and the City is already available for pre-order –  just click one of the many links at the end of this post 🙂

Putting that bit of shameless self-promotion aside, I also wanted to let you guys into my brain for a bit. I’ve been unbelievably slack in my blogging of late, for which I apologise. Life has been rather busy – aside from the book promo, I’ve been writing lots, which makes me very happy. But freelancing means constantly chasing work (and payments!!), which makes me considerably less happy, if I’m honest. I thought that I’d reached ‘peak juggling’ at the end of 2015, but no. 2016 has been absolutely flying by, and in my head, every day has been accompanied by this tune 🙂 Still, I’m in no position to complain – I have achieved one of my childhood dreams …I’ve written an actual, real-life book! (The other one was to be an astronaut, for the record)

So, let’s rewind to Friday 1st July. I’d been out at meetings all day, and returned to see one of the red “missed delivery” cards from Royal Mail. Now, I am a big online shopper, but I knew I hadn’t ordered anything. A tiny voice in my head said “Maybe its the book?” and I couldn’t quash it. The next morning, I headed down to the post office to collect the mystery parcel. When a saw a box with a Bloomsbury label, my heart stopped.

When I eventually opened the box, I didn’t react AT ALL in the way I’d expected. In my head, the moment would be accompanied by much leaping around. In reality, I went all quiet (unusual for me!!) and tearful. I think it was all just a bit overwhelming, and I guess it made me realise that, at times, the book-writing process was really rather lonely. It’s not that I wasn’t supported – I absolutely was, and couldn’t have done it without my friends and family – but I think in that moment, the scale of what I’d done just hit me. I’d survived a war of attrition, and for the first time, I felt a twinge of pride 🙂

Generally, I’m not very good at celebrating personal success – I’m always thinking about the next thing – but (at the risk of sounding like a hippy) I’m going to try my hardest over the next few weeks to just ‘be present’. To make the most of the experiences that are to come… I mean, this could be a once-in-a-lifetime thing! Hopefully not, but I think it’s important to remind myself of that.

Anyway, I’ve kept one copy of the hardback for myself, sent one off to my parents, and another to my undergrad supervisor, who I owe a huge favour to. Two other copies will also make their way to people who have had a major impact on me / my career. Honestly, I wish I could give free copies to everyone, but as yet, I haven’t been paid anything for writing this book. While I’ll never regret that decision, I think it’s time to start recouping my losses! And as uncomfortable as it makes me, that means I need to do everything I can to sell as many copies as I can.

On that front, there’s been quite a bit of activity. Those of you who follow me on Twitter will have seen some pics from a feature I wrote for the July issue of British Airways’ in-flight magazine, BA Business Life. It’s all about how banknotes are made, and includes an interview with the Bank of England’s Chief Cashier, Victoria Cleland. You can read an abridged version of the feature here: but if you’re on a BA flight this month, please turn to page 30 of the magazine to see the full thing 🙂

Two weeks ago, I also spent the day doing some filming with the lovely team at Crossrail. We walked through the tunnels, stopping to film things along the way. I have basically no experience of being in front of a camera, so I was absolutely bricking myself. While it ended up being a less scary experience than I expected, it has made it clear to me that I don’t hold ANY secret desire to be on TV! Anyway, Tom and Lewis at Crossrail will edit it into a short video (cut with other filmed content) over the next few weeks. We’re still figuring out where the final video will live, but once we have a link, I promise to share it here and on Twitter. Until then, here are a few embarrassing pics for your perusal 🙂

Fingers crossed that you’ll see a few other outputs from me in the next month or so – aside from the usual Forbes stuff, I’ve also written a feature for How It Works, with others pending for the Evening Standard, Londonist, and London Reconnections. I’ve also got lots of talks lined up – Wilderness Festival, Institute of Physics, How to Academy, University of Liverpool, Science Gallery Dublin, to name a few! And I’ll be doing some interviews too – I’ll bore you with links to those too, as they emerge!

I’ve also been truly honoured to receive endorsements from some amazing people. The first one is an excerpt from my first critics review, from Booklist, the journal of the American Library Association (which is read all over the world). The following two images show those that appear on the book’s back cover – huge thanks to Prof Mark Miodownik, Prof Dame Athene Donald, Prof Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell and the wonderful John O’ Farrell, who has been behind me through this whole process!

The official launch party is scheduled for Friday August 12th, and I’m delighted that so many of the people I love and respect can join me for a few well-earned drinks. And while I’d love for it to be an open invitation, space is very limited – sorry. Dress-making progress is dangerously slow, so I now have a slightly more sensible / achievable Plan B. I’ve been practising my signature too, after one of my friends said that she didn’t want my terrible scrawl on her signed copy 🙂

Oh and news that is particularly relevant to you guys is that my new website is ALMOST done. This blog will migrate over to, but I’m hoping that it wont impact on subscribers – you should automatically be redirected. My nephew Keith Murphy is the web development genius behind it, and the design features have been put together by talented graphic designer (and my “nephew in law”) Rory Martin. I cant wait to share it!

Phew. That went on considerably longer than I’d planned, but I think I’ve now told you everything. Pre-order links for the hardback and e-book are below 🙂 Thanks, as always, for reading

L x

PUBLICATION 11 AUGUST:  UK hardback Bloomsbury (£15.29). UK Kindle Amazon (£10.04). Ireland hardback Eason. NZ hardback Fishpond. Oz hardback Fishpond. France both AmazonPUBLICATION 25 OCTOBER:  US both Amazon. South Africa Raru

… and others to come!