An author not at the London Book Fair


I woke bright and early today, ready and eager to trot into London for the last day of the Book Fair. My programme to hand, my itinerary booked, I lacked only one thing. My wallet. It seems I dropped it, plus money and cards etc, in town yesterday.

I don't believe in random happenings. I can't think of any particular karmic reason for me to be punished by the loss of my wallet. That being the case I follow the alchemical route of turning bad things to good. The loss of my wallet must have effected a change for the better. (For those puzzled by such an approach to life, please understand that storytelling is part of my make-up. Life may seem random but given time (eg a lifespan) all the elements fall into place. I work hard to pull all threads together and weave a discernible pattern from them.)

So today I was stopped from running the rounds of the large halls at Olympia. It's a tenet in the trade that authors don't belong at book fairs. I thought I would challenge that, introduce myself and my new book around, come to know what is current. Now it's turned out that I didn't get to the Fair, I can look at the scene with some perspective. We've all watched authors flogging their own books and felt sad for them, they seem so desperate. Authors believe in their books, want to fight for them, and so end up cold-calling in a hostile world. I'm quite an effective salesman in fact, I've worked trade fairs and stood on sales floors, I can represent my books with confidence. Even so I can see myself bouncing between the trade stands, getting in the way. For months now I've chased a new idea every day, trying to carve out a niche in the marketplace. Hold still, the events of the day seemed to say. You're a writer. Write.

Book fairs have no existence without writers, but if writers spent their time at book fairs we would have no books. It's nice to think of those trade halls at Olympia thrumming today as my service industry, while I sit at my desk. Quaint, but nice.

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