Happy days

It’s been a great week, I have to say.

It started last Sunday at the Richmond Festival, which must be unique in that it celebrates walking as well as reading, so when you park in the charming cobbled market square, there are people strapping on waterproof gaiters as well as people wandering around with bags of books. A select gathering – not too big, not too small – assembled at The Station (an old railway station – again, very charming) to talk about Netherwood and Ravenscliffe, and how they began, and all that jazz. They were absolutely lovely, interested, informed and obliging (that is, they laughed at my jokes). Afterwards, I was given a present of a china mug, with the legend Go Away, I’m Writing printed on the side. I love it.

The next day, I went to Radio Sheffield, to be interviewed by the delightful Georgy Spanswick, who was the sort of warm and funny woman that Yorkshire specialises in, and who gave Ravenscliffe a great big plug on her afternoon show. And, from there, I went on the Barnsley Central Library where nearly 90 people – 90! – turned out in a biblical downpour to listen to my interview with Jill Craven, who probably does more than anyone else in Barnsley to keep the library buzzing and get people turned on by books. There were piles of Netherwoods and Ravensliffes for sale, and lots of people queued at the end to buy them, and have their purchases signed. It was heart-warming, gratifying – I felt among friends, although (apart from my mum and my Auntie Janet) there was no one there that I knew. They want me back, when the third book comes out, and wild horses couldn’t stop me.

Finally, today, I went to my local Waterstones, in Hereford, to sign copies of Ravenscliffe. When I arrived, there was a lady already there, holding the book, waiting for me.

‘I’ve been waiting for this,’ she said, waggling it at me. ‘I absolutely loved Netherwood.’

Honestly, I could have hugged her. It’s the best feeling in the world, to hear that someone has read and loved your book, especially someone who doesn’t know you. She was followed by others, many of whom were my friends, who came along to support me, and protect me from standing there like a lemon, watching people buy The Casual Vacancy. This scenario didn’t materialise, you’ll be glad to hear. In fact, Ravenscliffe sold like Eve’s pork pies, and the two-hour session lasted just 38 minutes. Frustrating that there weren’t more copies – Waterstones, take note – but heartening that the ones that were there flew from the table.

So. A great week. And the sun’s shining. And we’re having steak for dinner, with a very good bottle of Brunello di Montalcino. Happy days.