The author out and about:
When you become an author, every journey on public transport turns into an important market research opportunity. For there you will see people, lots and lots of people, in the act of reading. You might even, one fine day, see someone in the act of reading your own book. Putting it down on their lap every so often to wipe tears of mirth or sadness from their eyes. Being a writer, I don't get out very much. But when I do, it's always an event. To maximise my chances I always walk up and down the tube carriage before taking my seat or grabbing my pole, even in rush hour I squeeze my way through as much of the carriage as possible, stepping on peoples' heads if necessary. What if someone had been reading my book, only inches away and I'd missed them?
With a steady strike rate over the past two years of zero, I then move on to phase two which is to examine what people are reading instead of me. I saw someone laugh out loud on the tube the other day, this is a multiple bingo situation for lucky author, I had to know who it was. I nonchalantly moved opposite the reader and squirmed and twisted, trying to see the cover. I tried not to seem too obvious, but, frankly, I wasn't that bothered. If I hadn't got the title I would have become reader's underground stalker. He closed the book with a happy sigh and put it in his bag, slowly enough for me to see it was Joseph Heller's Catch 22. Fair cop.
I have never seen my own books in the big wide world BUT I have had these three exciting reports:
My friend Philippa's husband's sister, Ruth, spotted first novel being read on tube. I believe it was the Northern Line.
Carole and Mark from the playground spotted second novel being read on beach in Costa del Sol.
Diana, from my old writing class, spotted second novel in small bookshop in Tenerife, in between Ruth Rendall and John Grisham.
So - they're out there somewhere!
Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.