Less than a year ago, I praised the owner of our little independent bookshop for convincing Jodi Picoult to come to town.
Two weeks ago I was in the shop, chatting and getting his advice on books for Missy.
Yesterday, walking down the
main high street in my little town I saw this:
I went straight in to tell the owner, Trevor Johnson, how saddened I was. He was philosophical. The man has done so much over the years to promote books and reading – guest speakers, children’s events, cross-marketing with other businesses in town. But, as he said, even with all those efforts, there was a steady decline in book sales. In his opinion, it wasn’t just online book buying, but the increased use of e-readers.
It’s not news that the British high street is in trouble; there are twenty empty shop fronts on ours. In my fourteen years in this village, I never entered some of those that have now closed. But others, like this one, I treasured. But maybe not enough. How often have I bought books and e-books on Amazon?
Happy Valentine’s Day to Trevor, who fought the good fight for seven years, and to bookshops and readers everywhere.
Last week my friend Rebecca Alexander gave a talk at Winchester University (where we met a few years back on its creative writing M.A. programme). I was desperate to go but couldn’t swing it. So, even better, Reb (and her lovely husband who I hadn’t met before) came to my house for tea on their way back to Devon.
It was so great to see Reb and hear all about her journey to publication. The paperback version of The Secrets of Life and Death comes out in March and hopes are high for strong sales. The book’s already got my vote, as you know.
After sharing all her news, Reb turned to
nagging encouraging me to get back to my manuscript, sadly neglected since December. I told her I was having trouble figuring out the end.
“I know what happens in the end, or at least most of it, but I don’t know how to get there,” I wailed.
Her advice was genius. ”So write the end and work your way back.”
Her other tips:
If you’re stuck, write something else, a description you can add in later or a bit of backstory.
Try to write everyday or at least try not to let too much time pass between writing sessions.
I’m going to try both of these.
Oh, and while Reb was here, I finally managed to get her to sign my copy of The Secrets of Life & Death:
Right back at you, Reb.
Where do you get your inspiration?
After a few
months years of rational reasoned discussions, begging, whinging and tantrums, the children have finally convinced us beaten us into submission.
She arrived on Saturday and is eight weeks’ old tomorrow. I haven’t owned a dog since I was 14, so I’m a bit rusty, but eight weeks is old enough to be housetrained, isn’t it?
I gave a good friend The Secrets of Life and Death for Christmas and she emailed to say how much she was enjoying it, describing it as a “dropper”:
“I’ve been reading your friend’s book. Really enjoying it. It’s a “dropper”. I read in bed and it’s so good I want to keep reading it even though I’m tired and next thing I know I’ve dropped it on the floor and woken myself and the dogs up. “
I have to agree with that assessment and I’m stealing the term “droppers.”
I read several good books over the holidays, but there was only one dropper:
This book was an absolute delight and a hoot! It’s hard to do humour well, but Semple aced it. I loved Bernadette and Bee and their mother-daughter relationship. I couldn’t put this book down. Well, except for when I dropped it.
A near dropper was The Uncoupling by Meg Wolitzer – my first book by this author but definitely not my last – great writing, wonderful characters, gentle humour and an examination of the vagaries of desire.
The also reads were:
Hope: A Tragedy by Shalom Auslander - that Auslander can skewer Anne Frank and the Holocaust and still have you laughing says something. Reading this book is like watching a car wreck – you can’t look away, even when you are horrified.
The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year by Sue Townsend – this kept me entertained for quite a while, but, sadly, not quite until the very end.
The Glass Wives by Amy Sue Nathan – Can the first wife and the widow become friends – even room-mates – after the husband’s death?
Read any droppers lately?
I just bought The GoldFinch by Donna Tartt because:
- I read Tartt’s The Secret History years ago and loved it; and
- the Kindle version is on sale (on Amazon UK) for £1.99. That’s less than a fancy schmancy coffee!
But I nearly changed my mind when I saw Amazon’s boastful little comment: “Contains Real Page Numbers”. Seriously?
In other news, our sunroom …
*pause for hysterical laughter at oxymoron of sunroom in England*
… contains real buckets.
Yes after escaping to the sun over Christmas, we came back to rain-soaked England and a bad leak. But, compared to what others have suffered while we were away, (our little patch in the South-West is badly flooded and friends and family in Toronto struggled in the ice storm) we feel very lucky.
Did you survive?
This blog is closed for Christmas.
Wishing you all a safe and peaceful holiday, with lots of fruitcake and no shame.
Let none of these songs be the soundtrack to your Christmas.
See you on the other side.