If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may remember my excitement back in July when my story ‘Big Bones’ was shortlisted for the coveted Bath Short Story Award. I mentioned this in the ‘Other News‘ tab above (which I update regularly with events unrelated to Tree Magic).
18 out of the 1100 entries In the BSSA were shortlisted, and I’m proud to say that these stories have now been published as an anthology. You can see it in the photo and buy it here.
My prize (to myself) was a trip to Bath for the anthology launch party. You can read about it here on the Bath Short Story Award website – or you can continue reading below for my version of the party. Actually, you can do both.
I haven’t flown anywhere for at least 5 years, so discovering how Ryanair now works, with all its restrictions and website defects, was, um, interesting? (meaning that I used lots of swear words). Luckily, the flights were fine, and I discovered the cheap and cheerful Park and Trip car park near Bordeaux airport, which was recommended by my friend Jane and is run by some friendly guys.
I also noticed how fast British travellers walk. I seem to walk much faster than French people in the streets. But I was outraced by the Brits in the airport queue. Has anyone else noticed this? I suppose they were keen to get home to their grey skies after being subjected to too many snails and oysters.
Did I say ‘grey skies’? Well, I actually had crisp, sunny weather for the whole 3-day trip. But I won’t bore you with weathery stuff. No, I have something exciting to talk about today.
Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights.
Anyone who knows this totally amazing bookshop in Bath will now have a smile on their face. Because. And I’m not just saying that because I found this when I arrived:
No. That was coincidental, and probably due to the efforts of my lovely publicist at Impress Books.
When you enter Mr B’s Emporium at 14-15 John Street, you feel as if you’re walking into someone’s – a book lover’s – home. And this someone has a house worthy of your dreams. You’re not treated as a customer, but as a book-loving friend of the welcoming staff. Which, of course, you may well end up becoming!
It has a series of little rooms on three levels, and reminded me of Shakespeare and Company in Paris – though with its carpeted upstairs floors and well organised bookshelves, it is cosier and more British. I later noticed a poster on the wall stating that Mr B’s is twinned with Shakespeare & Co.
After explaining why I was taking photos, I signed Tree Magic and learnt that the staff have a project to collect authors’ signing pens and display them on the ceiling. This is just one of the ideas that show how invested the staff are in their ‘home’. They also sell gifts, including a Reading Spa: a kind of bibliotherapy in which your ‘therapist’ will recommend books to suit your tastes. This would make a perfect gift for a friend (*clears throat* in case family / friends are reading this).
Mr B’s bookshop was the venue for the BSSA launch party, and when I returned for this in the evening, I was welcomed by the award organisers: Jude Higgins, Jane Riekemann and Anna Schlesinger. They are authors in their own right, as are many of the competition entry readers.
It was, of course, wonderful to meet the other authors, some of whose names were familiar from other competition shortlists. Once we’d done the scary reading from our stories, many of us went to the pub around the corner, where we spent a great evening discussing writing and reading. I met another Jon McGregor fan, found a lady who has a house only 20 mins from me, and discovered someone’s daughter had read Tree Magic and loved it.
Many thanks to everyone involved in the event, especially Jude, Jane and Anna for their dedication. And thanks to Chris and Anita for photos.
If you’d like to read the amazing stories in the anthology (I still can’t quite believe mine is there alongside such jewels), you can find it in Mr B’s bookshop and here on the BSSA website. And they have just opened entries for the 2018 edition of the Bath Short Story Award, judged once again by Euan Thorneycroft from the AM Heath Literary Agency.
Now the literary fun and games of the last few months are over, I can get on with my exciting new project… You may not hear from me for a while.