With the publishing industry no longer what it used to be, Lord Dalmeny felt the need to make sure no penniless writers got the wrong idea when he invited them into Sotheby’s to celebrate the launch of Lisa Hilton’s new book. ‘Take home nothing but the memories,’ he warned attendees. ‘The pictures are not for you.’
Happily guests were too distracted by the historian’s racy tome to think about nabbing the art. Maestra, which is tipped to be the next Fifty Shades of Grey, tells the tale of a female art worker who goes on the run after discovering fraud at her London auction house — leading to a number of illicit encounters.
Bonnier Zaffre’s CEO Mark Smith recalled how Hilton had charmed him straightaway with her plentiful talents. Alas not everyone at the publishing house was so enamoured, with one member of staff worrying that Hilton’s writing suggested that she suffered psychopathic tendencies. Smith says that the staffer in question went so far as to try to stop him from embarking on a worldwide pre-publication tour with Hilton:
‘Before we headed on the trips we had to discuss the plan with my colleagues. There was one in particular who had read the book and was decidedly cold on the idea.
I had a slew of emails asking me to reconsider: what if Lisa poisons you? I really hope you come back.’
In the end it was Hilton — not Smith — who ended up having a near-death experience over dinner:
‘After a pleasant dinner with her publishing friends in Munich, Lisa moved on to catch up with some friends who were in town.
While she’d already eaten, being ever-polite Lisa decided to take a piece of sushi to nibble on. There was not a lot of nibbling, but plenty of choking. If it wasn’t for the quick-thinking of three very large Danish men who picked her up put her upside down to dislodge it — this all would have been a very different story.’
Happily the story now looks set for a happy ending. The film rights have been snapped up by former Sony chairperson Amy Pascal for her new production company.