Writers write alone.
It’s what we do. it’s how we are. But but but… sometimes it is hard. Where better to look for a focal point than your local bookshop?
Here is my paean of praise to Blackwell’s on Soundcloud.
I have always loved bookshops, as much as libraries. I seek them out, whenever I am in a new town. When I hear of a good bookshop, I am much more likely to go to that town.
Can’t I buy online? Sure – but where’s the fun in that? And if we book lovers buy online, there will soon be no bookshops left.
Blackwell’s in Portsmouth has been such a massive supporter of local writers and Portsmouth Writers’ Hub. I’ve had fun events at other bookshops too, but nothing beats the relationship you can establish with your local shop. We are lucky to have Joanna West as manager there, enthused, articulate and passionate about books.
I have actually lost count of how many events I have been to there. I’ve launched all three of my novels there. I’ve done Q&A with Diana Bretherick, Victoria Leslie and JS Law for their novels. I’ve watched Orenda Books Nordic crime tour and the launch of Closure: Contemporary Black British Stories. I’ve taken part in the Dark Victorians panel for Darkfest. And I’ve seen many other writers and readers, such as Polly Morland in Portsmouth Bookfest speaking about Metamorphosis.
Promotion and Display
For us published writers, it’s wonderful to see these impressive displays of our books. But perhaps even better for unpublished writers. Publication is not such a distant dream: look, people I know are doing it, just down the road. Blackwell’s have been supportive of Portsmouth Writers’ Hub publications such as Portsmouth Fairy Tales for Grown Ups, Dark City, Day of the Dead (in which I have short stories) and the wonderfully titled Octomorphosis.
Jo and her friends are so encouraging that I’ve ventured further and further into performance at these events. I began with little readings, moved into ukulele ditties, and have now burst into full cabaret. I love a reading that’s a little difference.
Jo and her staff not only host events for Indie Bookshop week and World Book Day, they also come along unstintingly to sell books at our events around the city: Day of the Dead storytelling evenings at the Square Tower, CSI Portsmouth, Matt Wingett’s Holmes Fest and many more.
When I moved to Portsmouth, I thought I was the only writer here. I soon heard of Graham Hurley (now moved away), Pauline Rowson, and Quentin Bates. Now I’m part of the 600-strong Hub, I know of Diana Bretherick, Victoria Leslie and JS Law, Lane Swift, Tom Harris, Quentin Bates, Miriam Halahmy, Amber Lee Dodd… and that’s not even starting on the poets (Maggie Sawkins…) and dramatists (Zella Compton…). All thanks to Blackwell’s.
I’m looking forward to launching my next book there on 1 September. Here’s a link to Blackwell’s very own choose-your-own adventure book game.
Do tell me your own tales of bookshop bliss.