It was still dark when I left home in the morning – but after a lengthy train and car journey I arrived at the Cotswold Bookstore just before 11.30 am, and before I had time to put my bags down I met someone waiting with their book to be signed, (even though the event didn’t officially start until 2 pm.) Minutes later I was shown to a table upstairs, where I got my first glimpse of the few hundred orders waiting to be signed and dated.
For the next two-and-a-quarter hours I signed at warp-speed, hoping to stop at 1.45 for a quick lunch-break. However, I was told that the queue already stretched the full length of the (very long) shop, out of the door and down the street … so I hurried downstairs and got started early.
Two hours later, that queue looked just as long. As fast as I could sign the books, more people joined the line. Fortunately, no one seemed to mind the wait – possibly because of the supply of banana cake and Mrs Kof’s Scottish shortbread on offer. I sensed things were going well when I noticed Tony (from the bookstore) looking slightly panicked as he gathered any remaining display copies; clearly, Thyme was running out.
It was great to meet so many people enthusiastic about JT – many of them new to the book; but others already familiar with the story and characters, bringing along their well-read original copies from a few years ago, (eager to know when the second book in the series would be published).
At about twenty past four, the last person in the queue reached the table. Afterwards, I was hurried outside for some photographs next to the wonderful old Norton motorbike and sidecar (just like Justin’s time machine) which had been parked outside the shop all day. Then back upstairs to sign the remaining pre-ordered copies; that took until about 5.15, by which time I was definitely starting to flag.
Out of a stock of 570 books, just those in the window display were left, which meant I’d signed about 550 books in five-and three-quarter hours … pretty much non-stop!
Minutes later I was driven back to the station, and began the return journey, arriving home shortly after 10 pm.
My thanks to everyone who made this such a memorable day. To Tony, David and Nina at the Cotswold Bookstore – not only for all their hard work on the day, but for their ongoing enthusiasm whist taking advance orders during the last several weeks. My thanks, also, to helpers who came in just for the day: Marilyn (who made the banana cake) and Julia in the shop – Sheree busily helping out everywhere – and Anne for collecting me from and taking me back to the station! Thank you also to Christoph and Sarah from Inside Pocket, the gentleman who brought the Norton Motorbike … and anyone else I might have forgotten, (the entire day was a surreal blurr – I remember little but writing my name over and over and over again!)
A huge thank you, of course, to everyone who bought a copy of JT … especially those who came from far and wide on the day. I’m truly grateful you came – I really didn’t expect such an incredible turnout! Writing is a solitary life; authors don’t get the instant response that stage actors enjoy … so it is only at events like this we can experience any audience feedback. The positive response from everyone left me feeling greatly encouraged. A new children’s book by an unheard-of author depends enormously on good word-of-mouth; I’m truly grateful that so many people have had such nice things to say about JT.
Although mentioned already, a special thank you to Tony, whose continual support of JT has been invaluable. It’s about a year ago since Sarah (from Inside Pocket) called into the Cotswold Bookstore whilst on a cycling holiday and Tony showed her the book.
Throughout the day I was too busy to take photos – but I know others did, so if they filter through to me I’ll post some here later.
Ian Madox Pager