Friday, March 04, 2011

World Book Day and Save Our Libraries at Crystal Peaks

I was delighted to be invited by Claire Molinari, Chair of Sheffield's Local & Live Community Theatre, to read and talk yesterday, World Book Day, at Crystal Peaks Library. I felt a bit agoraphobic about leaving my novel (I'm in that stage now where it's like a cocoon) but it was lovely to have a change and drive out with John in beautiful sunshine and over the frosty Pennines. When we arrived at the library, retired policeman Martyn Johnson, author of 'What's Tha Up To - Memoirs Of An Attercliffe Bobby' was holding his audience spellbound, and he told how, after its huge local success, the book has now been picked up by a bigger publisher.

The day-long series of events was also part of the Save Our Libraries campaign, so I talked about what libraries had meant to me as a child and the part they had played in the making of my books. As I've said before, I find libraries very inspiring for writing - often when I've got a general idea for a story but can't find the starting point I'll wander down to the library, and sure enough a first line will come to me - it's as though they're there waiting for me, somehow nurtured by the library! This is what happened very startlingly with Too Many Magpies: the first line just seemed to drop down to me from the domed ceiling of Didsbury Library (photo below by Gene Hunt).

Didsbury Library, Didsbury Village

The Birth Machine couldn't have been written without the help of the library in Chorlton, where I was living at the time: there was a big Obstetrics book in the reference section which I constantly referred to for the sections set in a maternity ward.

(Thanks to Paul Ashwin for this photo of Chorlton Library)

And my story 'Glossary of Bread' (included in Balancing on the Edge of the World), which is structured around dictionary definitions of bread (and the changes over time of those definitions) was written using the 1933 volumes of the Oxford English Dictionary ranged at the time around the reference shelf walls in Didsbury Library.

Anyway, I had a lovely time yesterday, and thanks so much to those who came and to Claire for inviting me to join in the day.

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