I especially like bookshops that have cafes in them, which a lot do nowadays, so I was over the moon when my good FB friend Jackie Morris invited me to meet up with her at Simply Books in Bramhall on Saturday. Jackie is one of my favourite illustrators; we both work for Frances Lincoln but we’ve never actually met, although I did see Jackie give a talk at the Swansea Book Festival somewhere around 1212BC.
She’d made an enormous dragon for Simply Books’ shop window and was holding a star-making workshop for kids who wanted to come and meet her. The star-hungry dragon was already guarding the shop window when I arrived, and a fiercely wonderful creation she is too, all gold and fire and pale-blue scales. A cluster of kids were hard at work round a table, cutting out stars for the dragon to snack on at night. Jackie and I talked shop, which is books and pictures, while a steady stream of kids and parents came in to listen to stories, have their books signed and try out Jackie’s Nepalese healing bowl, which makes a haunting sound when you run a drumstick round the rim. If you half-fill the bowl with water, the vibrations make it dance. Literally! A couple of dragon-mad boys came dressed as dragons, another read Jackie one of her own books, sitting on his mum’s lap. Everyone who bought a book had their name entered in a prize draw, too.
Sue and Andrew who run Simply Books have won numerous awards, including the Bertrams Independent Bookseller of the Year Award twice. You can understand why. Sue, who chooses the children’s books, is passionate about them and stocks not only the mainstream titles you’d expect to find in any good bookshop but also some exquisite books that would appeal to discerning shoppers. They also sell stationery, cards and Moleskin notebooks – are there any writers who are not addicted to Moleskin? Jackie had a dog-eared one crammed with sketches. I was tempted to squirrel away into into my holdall but were afraid the dragon would come after me and get me. I didn’t leave empty handed, of course. Jackie and I exchanged early Christmas gifts and I went home with a healing bowl of my own.
All in all, it was the perfect day. I made new friends, I sold some books, signed stock and came away with an armful of titles to read. I’m going back to Simply Books to tell stories in the new year, and to sign copies of my new books. And to have some more lemon drizzle cake too. Can’t wait. This is what being an author is all about.
To have a look at Simply Books’ website, click here.