My first stop was London for Hallowe’en book signings in ‘Olive Loves Alfie’, a children’s lifestyle shop in Stoke Newington. There I sat, wearing my witch’s hat among beautiful fair trade clothes and carefully chosen toys and books. Hallowe’en is a big affair in London. The streets were busy with parents and children in fancy dress, all intent on filling bags and buckets with treats.
I also led an afternoon workshop for 11-13 year olds along with some of their parents. After reading from ‘Cry at Midnight’ I set a writing task. Everyone, even the adults, wrote about their names and read their writing to the group. I think the children particularly enjoyed hearing what their parents had to say. It made me realise that it isn’t necessary to have separate writing workshops for children and adults. In fact I think both groups gained from the experience, and it is certainly something I intend to do again.
Second stop was Kidderminster where I did two ‘Cry at Midnight’ sessions with First Year pupils at Baxter College. I turned up wearing purple to find that purple is the school colour. So I was very much at home among purple carpets and purple ties. It was my first session in a Secondary School so I was a little apprehensive, but it went down well and I had positive feedback from both boys and girls. Most comments indicated that they particularly appreciated seeing the photo of the fence post, handling the necklace and discovering what had inspired me to write the story.
Besides writing there is a need to promote my books, so I set up a ‘Cry at Midnight’ Facebook page and have picked up 46 ‘likes’ which isn’t bad considering that my main readers are too young to join Facebook. Reviews in Amazon are all five star and a recommendation from a reader resulted in ‘Chocolates and Charms’, a lovely gift shop on Tiree stocking ‘Cry at Midnight.’ It was also good to see ‘Slate Voices’ for sale in Waterstones in Oban.
On returning to Islay it was time to settle down to writing. A deadline for the ‘Waymarks’ Poetry collection was drawing close and there were poems to redraft and put in order. Three of the poems destined for ‘Waymarks’ appeared in ‘Poetry Saltzberg’ and one will go into a ‘Grey Hen’ pamphlet before the end of the year. I worked hard on the collection, but in the back of my mind, ‘The Snake Wand’ was beginning to make its presence felt. Initially I had no idea how to start the book, but writing a sequel means that I know my characters well. They are very real to me and I trust them to come up with ideas. Once I sat down at my laptop Hamish took over, leading me in quite unexpected directions. When characters come alive like this it is the most exciting thing that can happen to a writer.