Some imagine a writing life to be sedate, organised, leisurely: mornings spent writing in a picturesque summerhouse, overlooking a garden with an orchard and a pond; literary lunches with author pals; evenings lounging on a chaise longue, daydreaming the next scene, or waiting serenely for inspiration. My Tuesday began with builders; they arrived at 8:30 to begin repairing cracks in the garage wall, and propping the roof extension, which had been botched by a previous builder. I’d promised a blog to Chrissie Poulson (sent in yesterday!), and having just finished an outline for the third A.D. Garrett novel, I’m outlining a fourth – this with a new pair of detectives. I’m also working on a retrospective blog, which will detail mine and Dave’s research trip to the USA for BELIEVE NO ONE, due out in July. Woven in amongst these tasks was the preparation for a presentation. Kate Ellis (a fellow member of Murder Squad) and I had been invited to speak at Tickhill Library on Wednesday, 3rd April. I had a blend of forensics and fiction planned; I’d found the photos, put together a short intro to Alternative Light Sources, ordered fluorescent powder and a UV torch, I’d even rehearsed the readings – I was ready. But the gizmos and fluorescent powders I’d ordered didn’t arrive on time, and anyway, I’d got so caught up in all the excitement of forensic-y things that I’d overlooked the fact that this was a daytime talk – Alternative Light Sources don’t work in broad daylight! So I had a rethink, and decided to present the forensic aspects on a tablet. Which meant an hour or two of choosing images, tinkering, and practising the new format.
The journey to Tickhill Library began on a very grey, misty Wirral at 9 a.m. on Thursday, 3rd April. On to Manchester, where I’d arranged to meet fellow Murder Squad pal, Kate Ellis. I’d left Murf in charge of the builders repairing our garage wall. Roger, Kate’s other half, had volunteered to drive the rest of the way, and boy was I glad! We hit fog within ten minutes, and it just got thicker, and we with the bonus of a long queue at roadworks high on fog-bound hills, we didn’t arrive until after midday. So, getting there wasn’t easy, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth the effort…
Tickhill Library is a lovely old Carnegie building. Directly opposite, a flower shop had set out its displays on the street, lining the little arcade, giving the place an air of festivity. We had been warned that the library closed at midday, but the side door was open, and hearing our voices, organiser, Lesley Nicholson, came smiling to greet us. We couldn’t have had a warmer welcome! They’d sold 59 tickets and had had to disappoint some people for the very practical reason that they’d run out of chairs!
By 1:40, the doors were open and readers already finding their seats ready for the 2 p.m. start. The readers listened attentively and laughed in all the right places (evidently a discerning audience…). They asked interesting and probing questions about our writing process and more generally about our writing lives, and they bought books – by the armful! Kate was better prepared than me, with a good range of titles, which were sold fast (didn’t I say this was a discerning audience?); I had brought a modest half-dozen each of Everyone Lies, and the Murder Squad anthology, Best Eaten Cold, and other stories. They all sold, and three readers even asked me to send books out to them! People lingered to have a private word with us, and one reader, who had come all the way from Hull, had brought books for both of us the sign. I think it was around 4:30 when the last of the readers left. Just time for a very welcome cup of hot tea, and then we were off again, and even the fog couldn’t dampen our spirits on the way back.
Many thanks to Roger for photos of the event, and The Lesley and Denise for a fantastic author event.