Just home from a Great Northern Book Tour with grateful thanks to Tinder Press and to Headline for getting me everywhere I needed to go! We first visited the splendid Scarborough, home of the Scarborough Literature Festival. The line-up promised whisky tastings and events with authors of all sorts. I was there with Tinder Press to run a hands-on writing workshop, with prompts aplenty and pens at the ready, and to sit in on a “How to get published” panel with Headline Publishing Director, Imogen Taylor, and Headline author, Morgan McCarthy. Both events were full to bursting. The Scarborough Festival is Arts Council funded and seamlessly run by charming and tireless librarians for North Yorkshire County Council. If you’ve never been, I urge you to go!
In the morning, we dashed across Yorkshire to the spa town of Ripon, where The Little Ripon Bookshop awaited, a gem of a shop. At the genteel Ripon Spa Hotel we were greeted with tea and coffee, a grand parlour filled with chairs, and a room filled with readers. It was my first solo event with Amity & Sorrow and they were generous with their questions and comments, and we had a great conversation about the themes of the book, everything from God to sex, with only a little farming thrown in for good measure. Ripon seems a splendid town – a spa hotel and a perfect independent shop: what more does any writer want?
A quick trip to Bettys with the promise of cake, we met voracious blogger M from We Sat Down. It was a speedy hour of great book chat, awash with Bettys special blend and an inhalation of macaroon and raspberry cream, as well as the presentation of a handcrafted bookmark, celebrating “sisters” from We Sat Down’s fellow blogger, Little M. A mother-daughter blog is a wonderful idea and, in that spirit, M asked if I would write her a mother-daughter post about Amity & Sorrow and their mother. Here it is, as part of this week’s Amity & Sorrow Blog Tour!
Next stop, Thirsk and White Rose Books and Coffee Bar, a busy, buzzy shop in the heart of the bustling market square. I read for the book group in a little room, tucked away on the second floor, and had tea whilst chatting to owner, Sue, and her staff. It was all capped off with an interview and a book signing. Those who are near enough to shop at the White Rose, whose books are curated, reviewed and displayed with great care, are lucky readers indeed.
A dash down to London, for pre-Book Fair meetings, and then back up to West Cumberland to the market town of Cockermouth, where The New Bookshop awaited, passionate home to “books, coffee and cake”. Hurrah! Two book groups awaited Jenn Ashworth, Sceptre author of The Friday Gospels, and me for readings and a laughter-packed chat about the themes our books share – faith and family – as well as the extremes of the faiths explored in both. The bookshop suffered tremendous damage in the last flood but, in the true spirit of independent bookselling, they made the disaster into an opportunity to gut the building, change the lay-out, and add two-story coffee bar. The new New Bookshop is a marvelous shop, and I’m only sorry I didn’t have more time for book browsing. Alas, it was then time to leave… Many thanks to Jenn, to the owners of the three distinctive and fiercely independent bookshops, to Samantha Eades and to regional sales rep, Gillian Mackay. And now, lucky old me, I’m off to the States!