On tour, I recently did two events arranged by Elaine Silverwood and Sue Wardell of the ‘Silverdell Bookshop’, in Kirkham. The first was at Rhyddings Business and Enterprise School, Oswaldtwistle; the second was at Baines School, Poulton-le-Fylde.
Both were excellent events with enthusiastic pupils. Elaine celebrates author visits by creating a special ice cream. She is an expert at this and her vanilla based ice cream using local Ayrshire cream and high quality ingredients (some imported from Italy) has won prizes and is, in my opinion, easily the best in Lancashire. She gave a tub to me and it was labelled ‘Joe’s Blood and Bones’. It fortified me on the journey to my next event and there were suspicious red stains in the delicious mixture that could have been blood. The Spook wouldn’t have touched it (he prefers cheese anyway) but I suspect it would become a hit with the Pendle blood and bone-witches!
With a few red stains around my mouth, I visited Pendle Vale College in the company of Tony from Pritchard’s Book Shop, Formby. Once again the school librarian, Anita Vine, had invited a really great audience. Pendle’s own pupils were augmented by teachers and children from other schools – so it was a really great event.
Waterstones, Bury, was another enjoyable visit. Other authors were also visiting at the same time and the staff got involved by wearing costumes (a young bookseller called Nathan was the spitting image of a spook) and dressing up in animal suits. There was a great party atmosphere.
On June 12th I revisited Central Lancaster High School Library at the invitation of Valerie Laycock. I first went there in 2006 to open the refurbished library and it was great to return. That library is also a resource for the community and it was great to talk to adults as well and be reminded again that not all Spook’s readers are children.
Another highlight of the tour was the event on Sunday, 13th June, at the Harris Library in Preston where I met old friends such as Jake Hope from Lancashire Libraries and Hazel from ‘BookTalk Groups’. Going there is always special to me because it is the library that I first attended as a child and where I borrowed and read my first full-length book, ‘Treasure Island’. I talked to an audience of about fifty, mostly readers who are familiar with the series – amongst them a trio of young sisters who love being witches and spend many a happy hour mixing up potions in their garden shed. Often when I give talks, posters drop off walls and I usually joke that it was a ‘boggart’. This time that didn’t happen but one boy, Evan’s tooth did fall out whilst I was talking!
Finally, here is a new public event to be added to the list. Following two days of school visits arranged by Mary, the owner of the Corner Bookshop in Garstang, on Tuesday June 29th at 4pm I will be signing there and answering questions. If enough readers turn up I may give a talk.