There has been some journeying this week to talk about THE ILLUSIONISTS in bookshops and libraries, and it has been soothing between events to sit in rattling cross-country trains and stare out at pale green trees and fields. Even the rusty ribbons of trackside dereliction between Reading and Euston are frothed-up and festive as a wedding with cherry and blackthorn blossom.
We still have some great independent booksellers, like Booka Bookshop in Oswestry, and it’s a joy to meet readers and other writers at these talks and signings. I feel as if I’m wrapping up conversations and affection like a goody bag from a party and bringing them home to my writer’s cave to last me through to the next outing. There’s a frustrating aspect to the book tour, though. So many interesting people come to the signing table, for example the reader who knew all about the European cemetery in Leh that appears in THE KASHMIR SHAWL – because she was responsible for restoring it! There is no time to talk properly to anyone, because I am pathologically averse to keeping anyone waiting, ever, and I am always conscious of the line of people tailing back as I check the spelling of the dedicatee’s name and aim for a legible signature. I don’t know what the answer is to this. Perhaps there isn’t one. There’s also the toad squatting on my shoulder to remind me that most readers liked the book preceding the one they are now loyally purchasing, which is quite different. What if they don’t like it? And if they don’t, it’s certain they won’t care for the one I’m half way through writing now…. So goes the author’s life. Maybe I should go into accountancy!
In the last post I mentioned BORDER CROSSING, the only non-fiction book I’ve written. It’s the rollicking account of a classic car rally I entered in a restored Volvo Amazon, co-driven by Phil Bowen. When we left Peking Phil and I hardly knew each other. By the time we drove into the Place de la Concorde in Paris six weeks later we had mapped the entire Mars/Venus conflict in one old car…
The book has been out of print for quite a long time but it’s a fun read and I’m pleased to say that it now digitally available to download via this link.
In the next couple of days there will be some pictures of our petrol-head adventures in the Gallery, too.