Wednesday, 22 July 2009


To Cambridge last night to take part in a signingfest for some 6O authors at Heffers Bookshop. This event is organised annually by the dynamic Richard Reynolds, who runs the shop and who calls the evening "Bodies in the Bookshop."

This is obviously a play on words in that the joint is certainly heaving with people - from the trade (first edition dealers looking to buy) but also members of the public, happy to purchase and talk to their favourite authors. The title, however, also reflects the growing importance to the shop of crime fiction, where once academic works predominated on the shelves.

This year Cambridge is celebrating the 800 anniversary of the founding of the university. For much of that time (or so it seems) Heffers has been serving the dons and students of that venerable institution. Reynolds, however, has liberalised the buying policy of the shop and opened its shelves to contemporary, popular fiction. Why, the blessed man is even stocking a good selection of historical adventure novels, including the Simon Fonthill series!

More to the point, however, it was refreshing to talk to a retailer who did not bewail the effect on the traditional trade of Amazon and who is shrugging off the recession. "We are doing well," he says.

Last night saw the nineteenth "Bodies in the Bookshop" event and Reynolds now also stages a series of mini events during the year to stimulate business. The trade could do with more booksellers like him.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009


Psychiatrists wallow in them, introverts analyse them endlessly and creative people are supposed sometimes to gain inspiration from them ("Last night I dreamed that I went again to Manderley"). Yet my dreams are useless. No help at all.

You might expect that, when body and brain are at rest but that the old grey matter, at least, is receptive, then something, some little scrap, might be salvaged from the polycromatic adventures that it gets up to when on nocturnal walkabout that would help to free the writer's block. Some little touch that might suggest a plot twist.

Yet what am I to make of me being at the bottom of a deep canyon with, in the far distance, a speck-like aeroplane approaching and me being able to hear the conversation between pilot and co-pilot quite clearly, but unable to understand a word because it is conducted in gobbledegook? See what I mean? My dreams are no help at all. Never have been.

Perhaps a late night, large brandy. What do you think?