Waterstones Gower Street

The ‘grande dame’ of English bookshops!

Blackwells Broad StreetBlackwell
Last Friday, I experienced the rare treat of visiting Blackwell’s Broad Street, the Blackwell bookshop chain’s flagship shop in Oxford. It is a bookshop that I know quite well, though it is two or three years since I was last there. It is one of a handful of large world class bookshops in this country – as readers of this blog will know, my own particular favourite is Waterstones Gower Street, but that is partly because it holds strong personal associations for me and is therefore much more of an old friend than Broad Street. Gower Street is like a rather quirky intellectual woman of a certain age, always coming up with racy surprises of which you might not have thought her capable. She’s one of the liberated ‘new women’ of the early twentieth century, as her Arts and Crafts clothing and the pedigree of her creator, Una Dillon, both demonstrate. Broad Street, on the other hand, is the grande dame of British bookshops. She is an eminent Victorian, offspring of the sternly teetotal Benjamin Henry Blackwell, whose fine bookselling tradition was carried on by his son, also Benjamin, and very famous grandson Basil (‘The Gaffer’) who presided over this shop and its sister stores for more than sixty years.
It was not the first of Oxford’s bookshops that I visited on Friday, but, once through its surprisingly modest front door (it could be the entrance to any moderately well-to-do person’s house), I wondered why I had bothered with the others. Here were riches indeed! And cared for by very professional staff who seemed never to intrude on browsers except at that vital moment – which they must have sensed by some kind of invisible booksellers’ radar – when I was stumped and needed help.
I didn’t actually find the exact book that I wanted – I’m not sure that this book even exists, as I was searching by topic rather than title, but I spent an enchanted two hours in the shop nevertheless. I came away with three purchases, but could have splashed out on many more. I was also delighted to see four copies of Almost Love and two of In the Family on the shelves of the crime fiction section. I happen to know from my previous life that the crime fiction buyer in this shop is probably the best in the country, so I am doubly appreciative that he has chosen to stock my books.
Blackwell’s Broad Street also has a great coffee bar in which people may really be seen looking at and talking about the books they have just bought (instead of just reading the paper or examining their shopping); it has also several brilliant, if eclectically-arranged, second-hand sections. If you know Oxford, I am sure that you will have visited this bookshop. If you don’t know it and should ever find yourself in the city, I recommend that you include Broad Street in your itinerary!

One month to publication!

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So here I am, one month away from the publication day for Almost Love, which has reached the proof stage.  I have marked the day by putting the ‘milestone’ countdown widget here (as if I needed it!), because that seems a celebratory thing to do, as well as adding the clickable cover picture and link to an interview about Almost Love, both of which are to your right on the sidebar.  It’s enormously exciting, and humbling, for me to be able to visit the Salt Publishing home page and to see my second novel there, whirling on the carousel amongst those other glorious titles, including Alison Moore’s latest (The Pre-War House and Other Stories, launching tonight at Waterstones Nottingham), David Gaffney’s More Sawn-Off Tales and Alice Thompson’s new novel, Burnt Island, not forgetting my fellow crimewriter Matthew Pritchard’s Scarecrow (to be published in the autumn).

So much has happened since November 2012, when In the Family came out to face the world, and I am very grateful indeed to the many readers of that book who took the trouble not only to read it but also to comment so favourably on it.  I have made many online friends since then, via Facebook, Twitter and this blog; they have been stalwart in their support and their sharing and retweeting has sometimes been so vigorous that I have barely been able to keep up with it.  If I missed passing on my thanks to you, please forgive me and accept them from me now.

I’d like to express my appreciation, too, to all those readers who have visited here, pressed the ‘like’ and r.t. buttons, followed and commented.  This opportunity to engage with you and your thoughtful comments has been beyond helpful to me in more ways than I could ever have imagined when I started blogging last October.   It has also been a lot of fun!

I am indebted to Jen and Chris at Salt Publishing for all their support, which is unfailing and ever-present, as I’m sure all their authors will readily confirm.  Their incredible creativity, their capacity for managing the impossible in no time at all and their long-suffering, good-humoured indulgence of human failings are what make them truly top publishers.

May I complete this post by announcing four events connected to the launch of Almost Love

Waterstones Gower Street

Thursday June 20th, 18.30 – 19.30

An evening with Salt crime writers

Christina James, who reads from her new novel, Almost Love

Laura Joyce, who reads from The Museum of Atheism (published November 2012)

Matthew Pritchard, who reads from Scarecrow (to be published September 2013)

Admission by ticket or at the door.  Wine will be served.  Books will be on sale.

 

Bawtry Community Library 

Thursday June 27th, 18.30 – 19.30

Christina James gives readings and speaks about crime-writing

Tea, coffee, refreshments.  Books will be on sale.

Co-ordinated by Claire Holcroft and George Spencer, Doncaster Library Service

 

Wakefield City Library, Burton Street, Wakefield

Alison Cassels, Library Officer in Charge of Promoting Reading, writes:

As well as Crime Writing Month, 29th June is National Readers Group day, so we’ll be promoting it to our readers groups too.  What we have planned for the day is our  Readers Group morning, with coffee 11.00-11.30, then discussion groups 11.30-12.00, discussing three books (including In the Family), then 12.00-12.30 a general discussion on crime novels, followed by people recommending books they love until 13.00. After lunch, Christina James will be presenting her second novel, Almost Love, in a public session, from 14.00-15.00. 

 

Event at Adult Education Centre, North Lincolnshire Libraries

Date and time to be confirmed.

A personal expression of thanks…

I should like to use today’s post to express my gratitude to the members of my audience at yesterday’s ‘An Evening With Christina James’ at Waterstones Gower Street. They proved to be attentive, responsive and interactive, as well as very friendly; I was delighted that the occasion developed into a conversation (always much more natural and comfortable) which drew upon the combined personal experiences and expertise of some extremely knowledgeable people.
It was very kind of you all to take the trouble to come to listen to a couple of readings from In the Family and Almost Love and to my personal perspective on approaches to getting published. You are old friends and new and I am privileged as an author to count you as such.
May I also give my warm thanks to Sam and the Gower Street Waterstones for hosting this event!
I’m able to confirm the date of publication of Almost Love as June 15th 2013.

An Evening With Christina James 7
An Evening With Christina James 6
An Evening With Christina James 2
An Evening with Christina James 4
An Evening With Christina James 1
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An Evening With Christina James 8An Eveining With Christina James 6

Next Thursday, 2nd May 2013: An Evening with Christina James at Waterstones Gower Street

Gower Street May 2nd

Sam, the wonderful Events Manager at Waterstones Gower Street, has organised ‘An Evening with Christina James’ on Thursday 2nd May 2013. It will start at 6.30 p.m. and last for perhaps an hour. I shall be reading a short excerpt from In the Family and perhaps also one from Almost Love (which will be published in June), and offering a few tips, from a personal perspective, on how to get published. After this, there will be a short Q & A – and a glass of wine! The event is a sort of forerunner of a larger Salt crime event that will be hosted by Gower Street on 23rd May 2013.
I know that readers of the blog are scattered far and wide and that some of you don’t live in Europe. Wherever you are, I am very grateful to you for your interest and have been delighted to ‘meet’ you on these pages. For those of you who happen to be in London next Thursday or can travel there easily (and would like to, of course!), I should be delighted to have the opportunity to meet you in person.

Putting a person to a name… Waterstones Gower Street

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As readers of this blog have often kindly expressed an interest in my books, I thought you might like to know that an event has generously been organised for me by Sam, the wonderful Events Manager at Waterstones Gower Street, on Thursday 21st March 2013. It will start at 6.30 p.m. and last for perhaps an hour. I shall be reading a short excerpt from In the Family and perhaps also one from Almost Love (which will be published in June), and offering a few tips, from a personal perspective, on how to get published. After this, there will be a short Q & A – and a glass of wine! The event is a sort of forerunner of a larger Salt crime event that will be hosted by Gower Street on 23rd May 2013.
I know that readers of the blog are scattered far and wide and that some of you don’t live in Europe. Wherever you are, I am very grateful to you for your interest and have been delighted to ‘meet’ you on these pages. For those of you who happen to be in London next Thursday or can travel there easily (and would like to, of course!), I should be delighted to have the opportunity to meet you in person.

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