Yesterday took me to the lovely seaside town of Mumbles. (Those of you who, like me, are interested in etymology can find some intriguing information about the name here.) The town was basking in the sunshine when I got there and the wide bay looked gorgeous with long-bladed wind turbines and Swansea’s high-rise buildings gleaming in the sun on the far side.
Cover to Cover, the bookshop I had come to visit, was also gleaming and gorgeous, its interior having recently been re-ordered so as to allow table space in the middle for displaying books. This has given the shop an open and welcoming feel as well as providing a very inviting display of new titles. I don’t know about readers of this page but I can’t pass a table with books on it without buying at least one that I’d never heard of but whose cover and/or title has attracted me. And, in that context, I’m really pleased that the covers of None So Blind and In Two Minds are so attractive – as one bookseller said to me ‘they both draw your eye and tell you what to expect’. Yes, exactly. Once again, many thanks are due to Jem Butcher who designed the covers for The Dome Press.
I was delighted to see the signing space that had been set up – a little table with None So Blind and In Two Minds on stands and, behind, two shelves full of both books. (Still a massive thrill…) And, soon, they were coming off the shelves and into people’s hands. Cover to Cover has a very effective social media presence and had been tweeting about my visit for about a fortnight which served us all well.
One lady who’d missed me in Carmarthen came down to catch up with me – she brought her copy of None So Blind for me to sign and picked up In Two Minds. Our conversation about the books drew others in and soon there was a queue forming. That’s a pretty gratifying sight for an author let me tell you.
I had some fascinating conversations with readers about all sorts of things as well as the books – TV adaptations of historical novels, how crime dramas and crime fiction are changing to reflect a more diverse world, what other novels we’re all reading at the moment and Crime Cymru. One of my aims on this tour was to spread the word about Crime Cymru and I’ve given away hundreds of our publicity bookmarks.
I also had a really interesting chat with bookseller, Delyth, about our reading preferences. She’s a book blogger and is currently reading a proof of Ann Cleeves’s latest novel. It’s the first of her new Two Rivers series set in Devon and sounds right up my street. I’m a big fan of her Shetland series so I’ll be snapping up The Long Call as soon as it’s out. In fact, as she’s doing a tour which includes Chepstow Books and Book-ish in Crickhowell, I’ll probably buy it at one of those events.
One of the things I’ve discovered as I’ve visited bookshops this month is how often people who aren’t readers come in to buy books for children. Even adults who feel that they lack the time (or the inclination) to be readers, they still feel that buying books for children – and, I hope, reading to them – is an important thing to do. In the week when we’ve lost one of our most loved children’s authors, Judith Kerr, it seems fitting to pay tribute to all those who have fostered the love of reading in young children. Would I be a novelist if I hadn’t fallen in love with reading as a child and devoured everything I could get my hands on? I doubt it.
Many thanks to Tim, the owner of Cover to Cover for the kind invitation to come and sign books in his shop and to Delyth who, as well as providing me with all the tea I could drink (a lot) made my visit so much fun.