Thursday, 17 October 2013

Let the signings commence

So the time for signings is with us again. Usually the first one takes place in the Harbour Bookshop in Kingsbridge but this year the proceedings started in the Totnes Bookshop on the Friday after publication day. Marcia was really delighted that this year the signings started in her home town. Friday in Totnes is, as you know, market day which means the town is very busy and the car parks are full – and especially so in the morning – so this year it was decided to try the afternoon instead. 

In Totnes Bookshop
It just so happened that Marcia's friend for a couple of hundred years or so, Susie (you may remember that our last dog, Jossie, came to live with us after Susie's mother died), was in the town as was a chap called Terry Ford, with whom I worked about fifteen years ago and have not seen for ages. It was a wonderful surprise to see him and to swap news. While we were waiting for Marcia to finish at the bookshop, Susie, Terry, his cousin and I sat chatting around a table in Rumour – the bistro just down the road from the bookshop – where we were joined by Bob Mann: writer and historian (Bob and I have collaborated in a couple of books on local history), literary critic (it was Bob who wrote the very first review of Marcia's first book - Those Who Serve), publisher (he now runs Longmarsh Press which he describes as a "craft publishing house") and good friend. Eventually Marcia joined us and the party really took off. Indeed, it was gone five thirty before we all decided, reluctantly, that the time had come to move on.

Bob Mann: writer, literary critic, historian and publisher.
Next day it was down to Kingsbridge and the Harbour Bookshop. As always here, there was a group of readers waiting for Marcia and a pile of books to be signed for people who were unable to be there in person.

Work is being done on one of the roads we usually use.
As a result we were driving down a lane we haven't used
for years and there, suddenly, in the middle of nowhere
was this lovely group of cyclamen in full bloom/
There seems to have been a subtle change in the signings over the last eighteen years or so. To start with there were far more people at the signings and virtually no books set aside to be signed in the purchaser's absence. Now that is changing. This is probably because more people work these days and so cannot make the signings but, whatever the reason, the number of books Marcia signs steadily increases each year.

This is the first of the foreign editions of
Postcards from the Past to arrive.
Please note the Newfoundland dof!
There was a report of an interview by Benedict Nightingale with Tom Stoppard in Wednesday’s Times. Here is something he said: “There are too many things I find it difficult to say no to. So I’m clearing my desk and planning to work without interruption. When I was younger I could do something useful just by being free for half a day but now I need five days to get the world I’ve left out of my head and ten days or a fortnight of not talking to anyone to hold what I need to hold inside my head. I can’t just put things aside for a day and come back. My brain just isn’t good enough any more.”

I’m a year younger than Tom Stoppard and I have to agree that getting back into gear is taking me far longer than it used to – and, unlike Mr Stoppard, what I do is not creative. These days I find myself starting to stare at the blank screen and then, without really willing it to happen, find I am doing something else by way of displacement therapy. Sometimes this is something useful (like paying the electricity account) but often it is totally pointless. Clearly this needed to be discussed with another creative writer, Marcia (eight years Mr Stoppard’s junior). Did she recognise this problem?

“Yes, very much so. Every year it is harder and harder and so difficult to get people to understand. It doesn’t take me as long to switch from one world to the other as it does Tom Stoppard but stopping for ten minutes to drink coffee with someone may not look much to them but it probably means it is the end of writing for that day. How can you be, say, down on the River Tamar inside Oliver’s head as the world shifts beneath his feet and be talking about something else, something completely away from your inside world at the same time? You can’t and I am going to have to learn to say ‘no’ more often.”

There is a bit of a story about this week’s very tiny blog dog, Beau. He has been rescued from a home where they could no longer afford to keep him and where he lived with a number of flea-ridden cats. These had been such an irritant that he had bitten himself almost bald. Now, after treatment at the vet’s and a few week’s wearing a collar to stop him licking off the medication, he is as right as rain.

A few weeks ago, we had an Oscar of unknown breed and I was asked what he was. Well, I have been hoping to see him again and find out from the owner but no such luck. My guess is that he is a cross and may even have three breeds tucked away inside that strong little body. Do I see a touch of terrier and a bit of labrador? I think I do.

Signings as of today (all signings last 1 hour):

Friday, October 18: Bookstop, Tavistock 10.30 am
Saturday, October 19: The Torbay Bookshop, Paignton 10.30 am
Tuesday, October 22: Bookshelf, Saltash
Saturday, October 26: Waterstone’s, Plymouth 11 am
Saturday, October 26: Waterstone’s, Roman Gate, Exeter 2 pm

To be scheduled: Waterstone’s, Truro and The Bookshop, Liskeard.

Lastly, Marcia will be appearing at the Taunton Book Festival at 7.30 pm on Wednesday, November 6th in Brendon Books, Old Brewery Buildings, Bath Place, Taunton. For details CLICK HERE.