Wednesday, 17 December 2008


last night I had a great time. I was invited to attend a reading group organised by West Sussex Library Services, at Lancing. They had read my collection, wanted to meet me and talk about two of the stories.

I love doing this. Not just for the exposure (which is great) but also because it informs me. Lets me know how readers take my'dead baby book'.

Fascinating feedback, over Pringles, mulled wine and iced biscuits. That 'I can Squash the King, Tommo' brought back memories for several. That after reading they couldn't get it out of their heads. They wanted to know how you make characters do that, when some novels you read for days, then can't remember exactly who the players were.

One woman remembered boys playing the squashing pennies on railway lines game in her home town up North. And several boys dying as a result. I thought I'd made it up! Just goes to show, we must read these things - they make an impression, then leave for the depths of the unconscious.

The title story, Glass Bubble, they found easier to read, because of the humour. There was a good discussion about the proximity of humour and grief/sadness. Maybe like love/hate the thing is a circle and they meet somewhere at a point where they are indistinguishable?

Questions and discussion lasted almost two hours... and I thought Id better leave them upbeat, so read them an old story called Naming Finbar, which had out-loud laughter echoing. So that was good. I had to leave my copy of that one... it was to be photocopied for mothers in law, mothers, Irish friends. And that was lovely.

I was a bit disappointed to find that no copies of my book had been bought, though. Apparently the library service doesnt deal with Salt Publishing's distributors. And there was some problem. So they'd all had photocopies of my work to read. On one level, thats fine. I'd rather I was read than not. But then, libraries are about books. And the indie presses are like gold dust. Precious places which, unless they sell books, will go under.

It was interesting to see that there were copies for everyone of the next book on the reading list... Salman Rushdie's latest, bought by the library for the group.

Another ten sold, Salman.....


doris said...

Sounds like you all thoroughly enjoyed yourselves, well done!

Elizabeth Baines said...

As far as I know Didsbury Library here provide the books for their reading group. I can't believe it wasn't possible. Really, for shame - especially when independent presses are struggling in this present climate!

Vanessa Gebbie said...

I kept hearing that there was some problem getting the books, E. I was sad, more for Salt Publishing, who work so bloody HARD for us all. Libraries have a budget for this, I'd have thought?

Elizabeth Baines said...

So would I. Unless it all went on the Rushdie. Ah well, poor old Viking got a leg-up...