Before I visited Caernarfon I knew two facts about the town:
1 – it is dominated by a thirteenth century castle built to subdue the forces of Llywelyn ap Grufydd.
2 – it has the highest proportion of Welsh speakers of any town in Wales.
After today’s visit, I can confirm that the first is visibly and the second audibly true!
I also knew that Caernarfon had a thriving bookshop – Palas Print run by Eirian James – which sells a great selection of both Welsh and English books. I knew this because I’d been swapping emails with Eirian for a bit as I planned the tour. And, today, I was Palas Print’s Lunchtime Author.
Sadly, I didn’t get to meet Eirian as she was away in Berlin. I did, however, get to meet Catrin, her very able and welcoming assistant (that’s her in the photo) and some of Eirian’s family who’d come along today, as well as Palas Print readers.
I had some fascinating discussions in the shop about Welsh history, Dorothy L Sayers, the ‘ceffyl pren’ – an ancient Welsh form of mob justice which makes an appearance in None So Blind – and Welsh emigration to the USA. I also heard how wonderful Eirian is at finding out of print books. And that, dear readers, is one of the joys of a real, flesh and blood bookseller – they will go the extra mile for their customers and search the highways and byways of bookselling until they find what you want in a way which a computer algorithm never will.
And, of course, I signed books, which was the other thing I was there to do.
There’s something very lovely about writing dedications to readers in your own books – being able to refer to something you’ve just been chatting about or just hoping they enjoy the books as much as you’ve enjoyed meeting them – I do hope those I signed books for today will enjoy None So Blind and In Two Minds.
Many thanks to Eirian and to Catrin for welcoming me to Palas Print and to Caernarfon. Diolch o galon am y croeso a’ch cwmni!