Monday, 5 November 2012
The joy of writing comes for me when I meet people and see that they read, not just my books but all kinds of books and when I do talks at libraries and other places it makes me feel so good. I did a talk at Hartlepool library last week. It's a wonderful building, open to the second storey ceiling and the librarians had put aside a lovely big room, decorated the tables with flowers, made tea and coffee and offered lemon or chocolate muffins. I love lemon muffins.
The first person to come in started chatting and she didn't realize I was the author and she said,
'I'm only here for the muffins.' I didn't let her get away with it and referred to this in my talk which made her laugh.
The people who were there came and kissed me at the end and even the librarians did. I don't think I have such a lovely kissed afternoon. It meant everything to me.
My daughter was at home that morning and she said, wasn't I going to prepare and though I don't write anything down I sort of scoop up the day, the library, the people as they come in and the feeling that the librarians give me during the half hour or so before the talk. I went into the library while people gathered and just waffled about. All those books and the people sitting in little groups, that's what makes it.
I try to tell funny stories because it's important to me to make people laugh. My grandma used to do it with style, my sister can and so can my daughter. Making people feel good is just great.
I told them that one of my earliest memories was of a pony ride on the beach at Seaton Carew. The pony was called Twinkle. I hadn't thought about this for years but somehow as I drove to Hartlepool it came back to me. I tell them I am their author, I belong to them. My stories are of them and of me and of the North East which I hold so dearly.
Writer Freda Lightfoot tells a story about how a Yorkshire man asked her ( I think this is how it goes ) about her parents and she said her mother was from Yorkshire and her father was from Lancashire and he looked at her pityingly and said, 'Eh, that were a shame.'
It's a nice story and illustrates how I feel about people who aren't born in the north-east. I suppose I should feel ashamed of it in a way but it categorizes me nicely because I think writers have to feel like that about the places they love. Peter Robinson in Richmond and the dales, Rankin in Edinburgh, Donna Leon in Venice, we love and nurture the places we call home. My books are about people coming home and in my new book Miss Emma Appleby comes back to the place where she was born, up on the moors where the wind howls freely and the snow falls sometimes even in July.