If you follow me along any of my various internet pathways, you'll know that last Friday (23rd May) I had a launch event for Blackfin Sky at Prestatyn Library. This post is a little bit about that, but actually the story began almost 20 years ago.
I grew up in a North Wales town called Prestatyn. When I was old enough to walk from my house into town by myself, I used to go and spend my hard-earned (or not earned at all, actually) pocket money in my local bookshop, Books Unlimited, owned by one Mr. Hallett.
It was a little shop crammed floor-to-ceiling with books, not built to be a shop at all, but actually a converted house, with little rooms on different levels sectioning the books by category. Naturally, I always made a beeline for the children's and teens' section, up the steps at the back of the shop.
This was a ritual of mine: every Saturday I went in and bought a book, and if I was reading a series, I'd order the next book in the series so it would be waiting for me the following Saturday. Then Mr. Hallett would wrap the book in a paper bag -- the same kind the lady at the sweetshop used to wrap the sweets in -- and I'd take my book home to read. And I wouldn't lift my head from the book until I'd finished reading, which was generally by tea time.
The routine went on for a few years, and though Mr. Hallett and I didn't really chat, he would occasionally recommend books for me to read. I think he could tell when I'd finished a series, and I had that lost, slightly forlorn look I know I still wear when I've had to part with beloved characters.
As I got older, I started to work on weekends (for beer money), so stopped going into Books Unlimited. The shop finally closed when Mr. Hallett retired sometime during my late teens, and I didn't see him again... until last Friday.
I have no idea whether Mr. Hallett recognised me from the flyer advertising Blackfin Sky's launch, or if it was purely an interest in books which brought him there, but when I looked up and saw him waiting to have his copy of my book signed, I felt like something had come full circle. I told him all this, about how I used to buy books from him every Saturday and how he and his shop played a huge part in developing my early love of reading. I don't know whether he remembered me or not, as I was talking far too much for him to get a word in edgewise.
Finally, I asked if I could double-check the spelling of 'Hallett' before I wrote my message in the front of his copy. He smiled, and said, "Please make it out to Victor."
So I did. I thanked him for encouraging my early love of books, and said that I hoped he would enjoy reading Blackfin Sky. Because without the inspiration I drew from the books he sold me all those years ago, I probably wouldn't have written it.
I'm still not sure I've spelled 'Hallett' correctly, so if not, I hope I am forgiven.
Kat out x