Waterstones Piccadilly asked 36 writers to hang out in the bookshop from 6pm to 10pm, talk to customers and sell our books.
As I was blow-drying my hair and putting on lipstick, Peirene was teasing me: ‘Sounds like a meat market of authors. And since there will be some really famous authors, I doubt people will queue up to buy your books.’ I gave her a playful slap. ‘You don’t have to be jealous. I’m sure there will be opportunities to talk about you, too,’ I reassured her.
At the shop, we were dispersed across four floors. Two writers shared a table, with our books piled high in front of us. I sat next to Jonathan Gibbs, whose debut novel ‘Randall’ was published earlier in the year. Booksellers walked around serving wine and mince pies to authors and customers.
Of course the Nymph was right. I can’t claim that our table was mobbed by hysterical fans. However, we did receive a measured flow of cultured, interesting, people.
I talked to an artist, a man passionate about German literature and a woman who knew my cousin in Germany 15 years ago. I had a fascinating conversation about the art of the novella and I met my fellow Salt author Alison Moore for the first time. A number of Waterstones booksellers introduced themselves.
As I walked home from the tube station I was once again surprised how much I enjoy – and receive energy from – such events.
‘And did anyone buy your books? Did you sign any?’ Peirene shot down the stairs as soon as I stepped into the house.
‘Yes.’ I replied.
‘And…what about my books?’
I knew the Nymph hadn’t stayed up to enquire about the success of my novels.
‘There is a whole shelf of your books.’ I smiled. ‘Some people came up to me because they knew I run Peirene and others I’ve pointed in your direction.’
‘Good,’ she muttered, apparently satisfied by my reply. ‘As long as people are aware that I am the source of your inspiration, I don’t mind you going out without me…occasionally.’ She turned on her heel and skipped back up the stairs.
Image by www.audio-luci-store.it