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Book Launches and Chocolates

credit for photography K Hutton

What a lovely atmosphere there was in the pop-up shop for the launch of Blàs: Roots in the Soil. I was feeling doubly pleased with myself as I had dyed the polo shirt from an in-your-face yellow to a more muted green. I didn’t clash so much with the paintings.

It was such a creative space. Surrounded by beautiful works of art and lovely people. The area before this was filled with second-hand books and split new books from the featured authors. Of course, I could not leave without buying at least one. Amongst my finds: a children’s Terry Pratchett hardback, Dragons of Crumbling Castle. Well, his adult books are so clever, I reckon I am bound to love his children’s books too.

One of the nice things about having a launch is that you get to meet new people and readers. I had never met the host before even though we both live in a small burgh. He was great at putting not just me at east but the audience as well.

It felt more like a conversation between myself and those attending, well apart from the readings of course. We all blethered together and examined the different words we used for certain times of the day and other things. A mixture of words we all use, yet we understand each other perfectly.

I wasn’t expecting much talking between myself and readers after such a free-flowing event but there was. It was great to be able to speak to people who had read the first book and had enjoyed it so much they wanted the second. Some had heard about the first and wanted a copy of both. I definitely enjoyed hearing their thoughts.

I have always found it difficult to think of other authors who write similar stories. Blàs doesn't fit so easily into a specific genre, not in the way a romance, a historical, a crime, or a western novel would do. So hearing how readers view my books is very important to me. Where do they see the book fitting in amongst others they have read?

So far these are the main responses regarding style. Someone remarked that Blàs reminded them of James Herriot Books without the vets or animals, another person likened it to the quirky “The Englishman who went up a hill but come down a mountain” which later the author, Christopher Monger turned into a film starring Hugh Grant amongst others.

Another suggestion came to the surface from a reader on Friday. “It reminds me of M C Beaton, you know, she who wrote Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth. They were both television series as well.”

“I’ll take that,” I said. No wonder I had a smile on my face when I left the launch.

Having a sample of the delicious chocolate that Highland Thistle Chocolates developed for Blàs Roots in the Soil may have helped my buoyant mood. Gold coloured dishes were passed around after the closing remarks. Matching coloured small display units with thin stems that flattened out, allowed a tall rounded see-through dome to side gently on top. Inside each dome was a wild apple and cinnamon truffle nestling in a gold fluted case. The display itself was special but the chocolate inside was on another level entirely. They had worked on the truffle since my last tasting session. I enjoyed the taste before but was taken quite aback at how mouth-watering they had become. I may have a few books left but I can assure you the chocolates are all long gone.

I was pleasantly surprised at the turnout given the event was held on a Friday morning. This launch was so different from many of the others I have done. Mostly, it has to be said because the audience was all adults. Everyone understood the language the book was written in which isn’t always the case with my Gàidhlig books. Then it is often the children alone that understands what I have written. We also had no action songs, puppets or even dancing around that normally follows the launch of my children’s books.

To be honest it felt a bit daunting in the beginning the thought of facing an adult audience without the safety of children to play and hide behind. However, as soon as I sat down I relaxed into the event and enjoyed myself. I had a truly lovely day on Friday 24th between the school and the pop-up shop.

I will miss the buzz around the town the St Duthac Book and Arts Festival created. Lots of people gathered in and around the shop right in the middle of the burgh. Tourists and locals all helped to make the whole event so enjoyable.

I am going to miss the pop-up shop. It was full of creative energy and books. We long ago lost our local bookshop and that loss has been felt by many people. However, making a living from a bookstore alone is not an easy thing to do with so much competition from supermarkets and online stores. Still, Dornach is not too far away, thankfully, they still have a bookstore there.

A final thank you to all who turned out for the launch and to those of you who bought a book there and to those of you who couldn’t make it but send their wishes. A massive thank you to all the volunteers and our local chocolatiers, Highland Thistle Chocolates.

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