Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Back to my roots!
Last Friday I returned to dear old Dorset to be a guest on the Steve Bulley show on Radio Wessex FM. Having already done an in-depth interview with Judi Spiers on BBC Radio Devon back in May, I was really looking forward to this. Steve's enthusiasm for Stonewylde grew steadily as the half hour progressed. Radio people are very clever and adaptable I think. We chatted about lots of Stonewylde stuff whilst music/adverts/trailers were on air, and then he'd immediately use the information he'd learned as soon as we got on air.
We talked about my inspiration for Stonewylde, and how I used to dream of a walled-off sanctuary as I drove past the Drax Estate near Wimborne over the years. We also chatted about the possibility of a film being made, which certainly interested Steve, and how we've set up a forum to enable Stonewylde fans to keep in touch with each other and discuss all things Stonewyldy (and many not so Stonewyldy!). Then we talked of the future, and how I'm currently working on the last two books in the series.
By the end of the slot, Steve's producer was also in the studio and very enthusiastic himself. He took a copy of the first book home with him for the weekend, so it'll be interesting to know what he thinks of it. I'd love to do more with Wessex FM, especially a phone-in from readers. There are many Dorset fans out there, and I hope some of them managed to catch the show on Friday.
On Saturday I then visited the Waterstone's branch in Dorchester for a book signing. When we'd arranged this ages ago I hadn't realised it would coincide with the Dorchester Show! But it was very busy in there - it's a lovely branch and there was a constant stream of customers. The weather cheered up and there was a three piece band playing right outside, which made the whole thing even more enjoyable. I was looked after by Jenny, and she and her colleagues had made a beautiful display for me of all the books - there was even a vase of flowers! Jenny hasn't yet read the Stonewylde Series (how hard it must be working in a bookshop - so much to read!) but I gave her a set of the books so hopefully she'll be Stonewylded at some point. There are several branches where staff have read the books and it makes so much difference. In my experience, all the Waterstone's branches I've done signings in have some really excellent and knowledgeable staff who take a great deal of trouble with customers and are happy to recommend titles. Let's hope Jenny comes across! It really matters to me that this particular shop promote Stonewylde, because for years it was my local bookshop (the independent bookshop in Weymouth having sadly closed its doors and I really don't count WH Smith as a book shop at all - and neither do they for that matter). When this Dorchester branch was Ottakers, it was the first bookshop to take Stonewylde, and I can't tell you the thrill it gave me to see my books on the shelves. Of course now they're available all over the country (although I still find it thrilling!) but Dorchester is special.
It was wonderful that so many Stonewylde fans came in to visit whilst I was there. One family are particularly staunch supporters and this was their third event! I used to teach one of their daughters, and now the whole family except the youngest (too young still) have read and loved Stonewylde. They've bought the T-shirts, sent out countless greetings cards, posted reviews on Amazon and generally been brilliant. It was also lovely to meet a rather shy teenage boy, who'd missed my last Dorchester event at the Pickled Witch Market but had come in on this day to meet me. Also a lady who'd already got all three books but had lent them to her daughter-in-law and never seen them again! She replaced these with a new set of signed copies and we took a photo together, which I've now sent her. Then another very loyal fan who's done a great deal to help promote Stonewylde turned up with her teenage daughter and her boyfriend, both wearing their T-shirts, and they handed out dozens of my promotional cards to passers-by.
All this really emphasised to me just how much Stonewylde appeals to such a broad range of ages, and both sexes. All these people were so enthusiastic about the books, and covered a wide age range. This mass appeal does make it very difficult to market the books, because to whom should we be pitching? Booksellers who haven't yet stocked the series look sceptical when I say that they're enjoyed by people from 12 up to 80+, but it really is true. However it does mean that every copy sold certainly justifies its expense, because I know that whole families have shared their books. Value for money or what??
Anyway, it was a lovely visit altogether. Thank you to everyone who came to see me. I really do love meeting readers, and to see familiar faces too. I hope that any people new to Stonewylde who bought the books on Saturday will enjoy them, maybe read this, subscribe to our newsletter and perhaps even join our wonderful forum. I really hope Jenny enjoys the books too. And when I left, she even gave me a thank-you card and bottle of wine - how fantastic!! It was my pleasure entirely.
Posted by Kit Berry