I’d arrived in York five days earlier and had started my week by doing an author talk at my old church. It had been a lovely way to start; seeing old friends from long ago; sharing the journey of my book with them; and getting me in the right frame of mind to promote Oranges and Lemons, my time-slip ghost story for teenagers.
I’d spent the last four days talking to so many people. I’d even got into a habit of telling random shop assistants about my bookshop tour. If I stopped for a coffee somewhere, or did a bit of shopping, surely that was an opportunity to spread the word about my book? Perhaps I was beginning to think like a salesperson! (I’m not sure I like that idea!)
But thoughts of home dominated throughout Friday, my last full day. My sister had been a great host for the week and I’d seen my parents and other extended family, too, but I was really looking forward to seeing my husband and daughter (and my son, as I’d missed our weekly video call to him in Sweden.)
My head was buzzing with the things I’d learned and all the action points the tour had raised. So, Day 5 began with a session on my laptop again. I’d hoped to drive to West Yorkshire and visit shops in Halifax, Huddersfield, Ilkley and Shipley, but I knew it wasn’t going to happen, at least not on this visit. Furthermore, the weather forecast predicted heavy snow for Saturday and I feared my drive back to Scotland would be troublesome. I’d need to save plenty of energy for that. So, once I’d organised my thoughts and sent a few emails, I walked back into York with my camera. The week had become as much a photography tour as a bookshop tour!
Sections of York were swamped with floodwater as is so often usual for the time of year. I recall going to see the water level markers in a street close to the river as a child and being amazed at the height the river could reach. Flooded basements are something many of the riverside businesses have lived with, on and off, for decades but I don’t suppose their being routine makes it any less difficult. It’s certainly remarkable when you are there for a short time and I spotted many tourists stopping to comment on it.
For old-times’ sake, I walked a section of the Bar Walls (city walls), something I always like to do if I have time. It’s a great way to see York from a height and fun to walk in the steps of Roman invaders and mediaeval city defenders. (In fact, only a section of what remains is Roman, but they were the first to build walls in York and approximately half of the line of wall follows the original Roman course, begun around 71 AD.)
It felt slightly surreal going straight from a section of wall to the supermarket but I had to buy dinner. That done, I then ventured out once more. I had two ‘bookshop’ visits to do to conclude my Tour. The first was to the Treasurer’s House, a beautiful 17th Century residence next to the Minster. Now owned by the National Trust, it’s well worth a visit for an insight into how the other half used to live and there’s a lovely garden, a café and shop. Due to its connection with the most famous ghost story in York, I felt the shop might be interested in stocking my own ghost story, but alas, I found the property shut until April.
However, just around the corner from The Treasurer’s House sits York’s National Trust Gift shop. The shop was quiet and seemed about to close for the day. I called in and talked to the manager and, right off, she was interested. She was going on holiday the next day for a week, but said she would order Oranges and Lemons on her return, and she even asked if I’d be interested in doing a talk during ghost week in October. Wow! I was thrilled. I told her I’d love to and that I’d be in touch after her holiday. And, on that positive note, my Yorkshire Bookshop Tour had reached its end.
I’d spoken to people in fifteen different bookshops and venues. I’d had some lovely reactions to my book; there had only been two who’d felt it wasn’t quite right for them; and I’d gathered details for others I still needed to contact. I’d learned some things about the book selling industry (and the business of being an author) and, bit by bit, my book was gaining exposure and I could return to Glasgow content that I’d done the best I could, for now. I felt hopeful, at least, that my debut novel might just do okay.
Time for one little celebratory coffee, perhaps? Oh, go on then, maybe a Yorkshire curd tart, too! Just a little one.
Thank you again to all my readers.
Remember to let me know your thoughts, and. . . I hope you’ve enjoyed the journey.
I'll be back in a few weeks.