It’s a privilege, especially in the current economic climate, to have two enjoyable jobs, but one of the drawbacks of my good fortune is that I don’t get enough time to devote to writing, let alone to all the ancillary activities of a writer’s life. Talks at libraries, for instance, have to be rationed, and usually I can only appear at events within a reasonable drive from work – though on one happy occasion some years ago, I took a couple of days off and flew over to Jersey to give a talk in the library at St Helier.
Last week, though, I had the pleasure of being invited by Rochdale Libraries to speak at the recently refurbished Darnhill Library. I’d never been to Darnhill before, and it would be fair to say that it doesn’t have the atmosphere of a millionaires’ playground, but the library is a very pleasant place, and the staff were extremely well-organised and hospitable. It is the sort of library that must play an important part in the life of the local community, and I do think it’s vital that necessary spending cuts don’t have the effect of undermining a facility that is so plainly a force for social cohesion.
The audience was large and responsive - people had come from quite a wide area, which really is a tribute to the way in which the librarians had publicised the event rather than to the speaker - so often in life, it seems to me, good marketing makes a huge difference. My talk was about my crime writing career as a whole, and there were more than enough questions to fill in the allotted ninety minutes. As I was speaking, there was thunder and lightning outside, and the effect was quite dramatic. But we were not, in the end, marooned in Darnhill Library for the night, although I’m sure we’d have been well looked after had the worst happened!
I do enjoy the chance to meet readers and potential readers at such events, and libraries are always welcoming venues. This year already, I’ve spoken at libraries in Derby, Wirral, Nottingham, Middlesbrough, Flintshire, and now Lancashire. Great fun. What’s more I have one or two more library talks lined up for the autumn – quite a bit to look forward to after the holiday season.