My six author’s copies of In the Family came from Salt Publishing yesterday. They looked very nice, nestling in the box like a litter of kittens. Even though I need only one for myself, I shall part with them reluctantly! However, I have already sent one on its way, with my full blessing: I’ve given it to Anita, my neighbour, who had not the slightest idea until today that I am a writer. Nor is she a reviewer, a bookseller or anything remotely to do with publishing; she does not even belong to a reading group. She keeps a horse and dogs (lots of them).
When she was ill a few years ago, she discovered in herself a liking for books that she had not experienced when she was younger and (since my house is heaving with them) I became her unofficial librarian. We have a shared liking for crime novels and our tastes are remarkably similar. We also both hate the winter! When the evenings began to draw in, a year ago, she asked me if I had some books for her to read and I took round a wheelbarrow-load. They just about lasted her until the spring. I think of Anita as my yardstick: she is my model for all the unseen people I can never know personally for whom ‘a good read’ is an important part of life and who know what they like without analysing it too much. One thing I can rely on Anita to do is to tell me the truth. As a Yorkshirewoman through and through, if she doesn’t like In the Family, she will certainly say so. If she says that she does like it, I shall feel greatly privileged.