The Bath Festival

This time it was different. Normally (OK, always), when I start my talk I ask if anyone’s read Threads and one shy girl in the front row puts up her hand and everyone else looks at their shoes.

But not this time. This time, I asked if anyone had read Threads and EVERY girl (I think) put up her hand. And some of the parents. And one very nice librarian.

So that made my introduction pretty easy. Normally I explain what Threads is about and who the characters are, but yesterday in Bath we could race along to the important bit, which is what they look like, what they wear, what they (and I) think about fashion and why it matters.

It was fun. I had a great time. There were loads of questions. And then the best bit. Signing time.

Poor, lovely John from Waterstones sat at the back and I did feel sorry for him. I like John, but I didn’t give him much business because almost everyone had bought their own copy from home for me to sign. Not brilliant for the bookselling trade but simply lovely for an author. There’s nothing like signing a book you’ve written that’s slightly bent and battered, whose corners are a bit the worse for wear, because it has clearly been read and re-read and much loved.

The last girl in the queue had a hardback edition which she told me she’s read three times, and has inspired her to do lots of her fashion illustrations. I hope she does some of her future illustrations in the book itself. It would benefit from a bit of customisation. And I hope she sends me some pictures to admire. As someone who can’t draw, I’m always in awe of people who can.

I’m currently copying a practice I learned from Lucy Christopher, which is to sprinkle something in your book as you sign. For Stolen, she uses sand. (It’s set in the desert of the Australian outback.) I use sequins and tiny pink hearts. For book 3, there will be stars.

Lucy’s onto something. There’s something special about handing a book back that has a little secret in it – more than your signature: a shiny memento of the occasion, that will one day fall out onto the reader’s unsuspecting desk, or bed, or shoes, and remind her of the day we met.

But the real magic was what the girls gave me. An hour of sharing my world. To Jodie, Maddie, Katie and everyone else who came, thank you so much. And I hope your parents have forgiven me for the scattered hearts and sequins that they are, at this moment, patiently hoovering up from wherever they fell.

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