I've been in internet blackout, almost, for over a week: on the mountain in Wales and inside a cloud for most of the time. It's strange, a kind of literary purdah, but not quite. Every so often, briefly, there's a signal, and a message comes through. First there's one from the BBC who want permission to use my publicity photo for their website and their Revision Bite for my story 'Compass and Torch', and they would like a contact for Tom Wright the photographer. Then there's a message from Deborah Grace, one of the innovative organisers of an Oxfam Community Book Festival to be held at Alderley Edge Oxfam Bookshop on the 15th and 16th September, sending me the programme which I ought to acknowledge, and asking what we readers will be reading. (I'll be reading on Sunday 16th, other readers will include Melvyn Burgess, Nick Royle, Conrad Williams and Livi Michael.) And a delightful request from Elaine Glover, editor of Stand magazine, asking if, as a long-term contributor, I'll read at an event in Leeds on 14th and 15th September to celebrate the magazine's sixtieth year. And with each email I kind of panic about getting a reply back before the connection goes again.
On the other hand, once we drive to Caernarfon, there's not only great internet connection but a literary community. There's the lovely bookshop, Palas Print, and once a month a book club meets in Gert Vos's Oren restaurant. Every so often Gert holds musical and cultural events in the restaurant, and I'm thrilled that he's asked me read at one of these - provisionally on Thursday 19th July. It's a great restaurant: every week there's a different set menu, always adventurous - the dishes often sprinkled with flowers - beautifully cooked and generous. Last week John and I had the Danish summer menu, and this, believe it or not, was our starter!