Monday, 15 March 2010

Mother’s Day Signings and the Precocious Child

book signing 009

Saturday was, as they say, well packed.

We had this Roomtowrite Conference at Whitworth where we were discussing how writers could use their reading to develop their novel writing techniques. Or how to steal skills from successful writers . Great group. We worked very hard in a sunny conservatory in a park with deer. Roomtowrite 006

Then I had to skip lunch and go down to WHSmiths at Bishop Auckland where the lovely manager Tony Fox, in collaboration with Headline’s exceptional Gillian McKay, had set up a signing of The Woman Who Drew Buildings in time for Mother’s Day. Well it is about a mother and her son, so it seems signing 011

Gillian, as always, took great care of me, making sure I signed lots of books. One little girl, blonde hair, straight fringe came up for a word. She was all of nine years old. I asked her if she liked reading.

‘Oh yes, I like books,’ she says

‘What do you read?’ I say, thinking JK Rowling of Jacqueline Wilson.

‘Jodi Pecoult.’ she says.

I blink just a little. ‘Very sophisticated. So, which book have you read?’

‘I’m reading My Sister’s Keeper',’ she said. ‘I got it for my Mum last year and we watched the film and now I’m reading the book.’

And her mother came up, smiling, and swept her away.

Afterwards I wondered why I had been surprised. When I was her age I was reading books which followed my mother’s tastes. I remember reading quite erotic books by a writer called Nora K Strange. I looked her up recently to discover that among other things she wrote about Kenya under the British and possibly had some experience of the scandalous Happy Valley set.

Children get their emotional and sexual educations where they can. Novels are not a bad starting point.

Then back to the afternoon session of RoomToWrite where we were discussing beginnings and endings with reference to The Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman, Let It Bleed by Ian Rankin, and The Lovely Bones, by Alice Hoffman. Maybe Jodi Pecoult should have been in there somewhere…

If you are interested in The Woman Who Drew Buildings she is available from all good books shops (WHSmith, for instance) and on Amazon. ISBN 978-0 -7553-3381-3

Afternote. The writers at the RoomtoWrite conference were great. There are some promising novelists there. My writing friend and colleague Avril Joy has posted more about says more about the conference on her blog Writing Junkie.

But for now here are some sunny picsRTW Gillian & Hilary Sunny DayRTW Gillian;

rtw alison

RTW Jackie 007

rtw Avril

rtw Mike

rtw Gerry


  1. What a packed day! Yet the conference looks like it was delightful.

    Our daughter Io was a most amazingly precocious reader. For a while we had a struggle with finding books that were meaty enough, but that didn't have content "unsuitable".
    Then of course we realised that she could deal with almost any subject matter in her own way. We just needed to be on hand to answer any questions.


    Publish or Perish

  2. Dear Al

    The days are now becoming very unpacked and I am PLEASED about that... More time to work on the new book.

    Your daughters sound so clever and interesting. And you are an understanding dad, realising they deal with subject matter in their own way and at their own level. The benefit of novels - good, bad and ugly as they may be - is that they give a complex, flexible, private context for much esoteric information. In this, for instance, they are much better that one-message-in-your-face films.
    Thank you as always, Al for calling by. w

  3. Haven't visited her in a bit and am so glad I dropped by. What a delicious post and how lovely to vicariously accompany you to your book signing and the RoomToWrite Conference. I had a wonderful time. Thanks:-)

  4. dear ppr
    honoured to have your company again... wx

  5. Ah, how lovely to see these photos from the workshop! I've just returned from a visit to the States that immediately followed that delightful Durham experience, so have been busy and offline...only just now catching up on what you ladies had to say about the weekend. We shall surely meet again in this fall. -Colleen

  6. Colleen -
    Welcome back. You were a great member of the group. Looking forward to seeing you in the 'Fall'...




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