It’s that time of year again…the leaves are turning and hordes of book lovers are descending on my home town.
The Cheltenham Literature Festival is always such a great event, particularly when it’s on the doorstep. I am renowned for being useless at catching buses and frequently miss them … I swear I have timetable dyslexia!
So it was a miracle that we made it to Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s talk about the impact of her work and fantastic feminist views. I have enjoyed all of her novels. My favourite is probably Purple Hibiscus (another lent out never to return) followed very closely by Half of a Yellow Sun. If you enjoy great fiction with superb characters and plot and fancy losing yourself for a few days, read them. You won’t be disappointed.
The following day we made it (I know, weird right? Two days in a row and I negotiate the bus network!) to a superb discussion on the Syrian conflict hosted by Lindsey Hilsum. Lyse Doucet, BBC’s Chief International Correspondent was a great speaker; passion and knowledge abounded.
I couldn’t resist buying a copy of No Turning back by one of the other panellists, Rania Abouzeid; an outstanding journalist with many stories to share. Alfie (my son and companion to the festival) was very happy with his signed copy.
After a delicious smoked salmon and cream cheese crepe in the food tent and a discreet distribution of Dance with Fireflies bookmarks on tables, we made the last bus home…..unfortunately, the only bus back wasn’t exactly a direct route. We alighted at The Rising Sun pub on Cleeve Hill and walked through two fields of sheep as the light faded. Luckily I wore trainers and not heels (I’m not really a heel kind of person). Almost home, our house in sight, the mother of all rams, big, black and well hung, stood in the only gateway, blocking our path home.
A bit of flapping about with the newly acquired Waterstone’s bag with the aptly titled No Turning Back book inside, finally worked on the stubborn beast and our journey was complete.
I’m running another book giveaway with Goodreads! It’s a great way to get lots of avid readers to notice Dance with Fireflies. The first time I did this was at its launch. It attracted 1792 entries from people who wanted to win a signed copy, 780 of these readers added it to their ‘to read’ list…. Not bad!
It’s great to be getting lots of sales through Amazon(by far my biggest outlet) but it’s rather thrilling to see Dance with Fireflies on real book shop shelves!
As Book Two gets underway, my office walls are starting to fill up. I have drawn out timelines, ranging from 1945-1952. To help me capture the vibes, people and locations of my next story I’ve started to stick images on the glass door with captions underneath. I found this hugely helpful when I wrote Dance with Fireflies…. I used to find myself half way through a paragraph staring at a particular building, ship, persons clothing…. whatever … to try and get it right. I have a picture of Vivien Leigh up…. Beatrice, one of my characters, is based on how she looked … very glam!!
I’m also rereading Dance with Fireflies…. Just to get back into the characters and story…. Rather enjoying it, particularly as since publishing it , I have been back to Nainital 🙂
I’ve just been given over 30 books on WW2, various battles, conflicts and world leaders. They have pretty much filled my dining table. Sadly I will never meet the collector who spent a lifetime collecting these lovely books. Some were birthday presents from his wife, some are old library books and most are from second hand book shops. So thanks Barry, you can rest assured that they have gone to a good home! Alfie’s face will light up when he sees them…..I may have to limit them in his suitcase though!
Office shelf…books on how to get published to books about the Raj, WW2, Hobson-Jobson Anglo Indian dictionary and The complete Indian housekeeper and cook. Oh, and underneath live all my Pantone books for when I’m doing my real work as a designer.
Modern fiction shelf…..just some of the books I’ve read recently, as I wrote in a previous post (I love, I lend, I lose) plenty of my favourites are missing!
Oversize reference shelf…. this is where all my chunky books live from old and modern atlas’s to gardening.
Bit of everything shelves….This one is a bit eclectic. From language books, biographies, books on campsites and great restaurants. By far the best section contains my well traveled Lonely planet guides, dog eared and creased from their adventures around the world with me.
Cooking shelf….I have loads of cook books, this is just a tiny selection….I love all of them but my favourite at the moment is one I bought my husband a few weeks ago for his birthday- Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. Usually I flick through a recipe book and see maybe 3- dishes I like the look of but this book has a great recipe on pretty much EVERY page!
Coffee table shelf…these are a few nice ones that are always good to have a quick flick through. I love Rankin’s book he did with Oxfam in the Congo.
The waiters…this is a shelf in my bedroom. It has all the books waiting patiently for their turn be picked up and read.
Having decided on my story, the era and countries included, I started to gather books on the subjects. Some borrowed, some bought, second hand and new. I now have a mini library in my office and have become quite knowledgeable on WW2, The siege of Malta, troopships, I’ve even read the whole Anglo-Indian dictionary (Hobson-Jobson) from cover to cover……a surprisingly good read! Of cause the internet is an amazing source of information, I can’t imagine how people used to write without it at their fingertips.