Posted on 24/04/23 in Author Life, Events
Hidden Fires on Tour
Last week was a whirlwind mini book tour for The Hidden Fires around central Scotland and I’m only just catching my breath and catching up on the photos and messages. Here are some highlights for you:
It kicked off on Tuesday afternoon at Dundee Central Library where Tanya and Kate had gone above and beyond in organising and marketing the event. Libraries are vital community hubs, so I was delighted to share my Cairngorms journey with the 30+ folk who gathered. One of the audience was Mary, the daughter of Sydney Scroggie, whose book ‘Cairngorms Scene and Unseen’ was a valuable source to me. After the talk, it was a privilege to be interviewed by Graeme Tarbert of Dundee Audio News, a terrific charity providing recorded news stories for the visually impaired. Learn more at North East Sensory Services.
That evening, I blissfully burrowed in to the Aladdin’s Cave that is Topping’s bookshop in St Andrew’s. Grace led me to a table in a book-lined nook, complete with glass of wine and shortbread biscuits, where she passed me book after book for signing. It is Toppings custom to wrap all new hardbacks in a cellophane sheath for protection and, if signed, to include an elegant paper band reading ‘Signed First Edition’. It was the biggest book-signing stack of my life so far – 50 books!
The audience this time included a goodly assortment of academic folks with questions like, ‘What do you think of New Nature Writing as a genre and do you position yourself in it?’ Since I had to ask the lady what New Nature Writing was, clearly I haven’t done much thinking or positioning on the subject!
On Wednesday, it was off to Toppings Edinburgh, an even bigger beautiful, breath-taking labyrinth of books! I would have cheerfully got lost and never been found again except as a pile of bones curled around dusty tomes. With better plans, however, the attentive staff swept me up to the curved art room with a small signing table under tall windows. Over ginger tea and a swift flow of book – signature – book – signature, Aristotelis and I discussed Greek myths and moving to Scotland from elsewhere. 70 books this time and the fleeting awareness that my signature may soon be as bad as my GP husband’s.
Another appreciative audience, including a young woman who told me later of her mother who had passed away the year before. She had loved Nan Shepherd so much, the family had read The Living Mountain aloud to her in her final days. It is these encounters that make all the difference: this affirmation of how literature speaks into people’s lives and leaves them changed.
On Thursday, it was a joy to round off the trip with a visit to Adventure Into Books in Blairgowrie. This exquisite little bookshop was opened by Kate and Ralph just before the pandemic and has not just survived, but thrived. They hosted the maximum of 16 folks in their small, but perfectly formed space, where Kate asked great questions, including, ‘Did you meet these trolls frequently in your explorations?’ To find out who these trolls were, I guess you’ll just have to read The Hidden Fires. (Clue: they’re not the internet variety.)
Among its many treasures, Adventure Into Books hosts Bookshop Mouse and two bears called Honeysuckle and Cornelius. It is also the host bookshop for the wonderful Bookmark Book Festival held in Blairgowrie in October. My Cairngorms-set novel, Of Stone and Sky, won their Book of the Year in 2021, which meant I was a guest there in 2022. I’ll be back this year chairing the opening event with Jim Crumley and Patrick Galbraith, so do join us for what is set to be a fascinating conversation. (I might even ask them about trolls and where they sit with New Nature Writing…)
I got home on Friday, bearing cards, gifts and books from these four havens in four different regions of Scotland, brimming with thankfulness for the kindness of my hosts, the connections with readers and the power of books to bring meaning to our lives.
If you’d like to join me at a future Hidden Fires event, do have a look at my Events page here.