June’s been quite a month. Not only was it National Crime Reading Month but it also saw the paperback publication of THE SHROUD MAKER. It’s been so hectic that I feel I’ve only just sat down!
In early June I travelled down to Devon which is always a pleasure. We stayed in the centre of Dartmouth as usual, which gave me a chance to visit the town’s wonderful Community Bookshop and the library. I was very upset to hear that the library might be under threat because of budget cuts. This seems particularly bizarre to me because it only moved into a lovely modern building relatively recently and is remarkably popular and well used; a lifeline for young and old and a real hub of the community. The value of libraries such as this is tremendous and, as that great benefactor and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie knew, a library is a gateway to education and culture and is a true emblem of a civilised society. I do hope that the politicians will come to realise this. In the meantime, we can only try to make our voices heard and hope.
Another example of libraries bringing the community together was my Murder Mystery Evening at Kingsbridge on 10th. We had a marvellous fun evening with a team of stalwart librarians taking the parts of the four suspects. A great time was had by all and many thanks to the cast (who gave performances worthy of the Royal Shakespeare Company) and to Maria Johnson for organising the evening which even included an appearance by Monsieur Poirot himself!
On the 11th I visited Torbay Books. This fantastic bookshop is run by Matthew and Sarah Clarke (and as well as books it also sells chocolate – an establishment truly filled with temptation). The next day I spoke to a lovely audience of readers at the new state-of-the-art library in Totnes. I love meeting the people who read my books and I really enjoyed talking to the residents of the beautiful and unique town that serves as a model for my fictional ‘Neston’.
Every year it seems to get harder to leave Devon and come back up north but, after a brief pilgrimage to Greenway, Agatha Christie’s beautiful home overlooking the River Dart, I had to face the inevitable. However, I will be back there next year, researching for another Wesley novel and, hopefully, meeting more readers.
National Crime Reading Month concluded for me with a book signing at my local Waterstones in Stockport and a Crime Evening at Formby Books in Merseyside where Sheila Quigley, Martin Edwards and I spoke about our work, helped along by wine and a buffet provided by the excellent Tony Higginson. Tony had toyed with the idea of a barbecue but, unhappily, the weather forecast was against us. However, that didn’t matter as the enthusiasm of our audience was enough to make up for the lack of sunshine.
Now it’s time to get back to writing. Hope you enjoy the pictures.