Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Guest Post: Caroline Smailes's Imaginary Bookshop

To celebrate this week's launch of The Drowning of Arthur Braxton, published by The Friday ProjectCaroline Smailes has answered the Imaginary Bookshop questions and her answers are fabulous.

I will be reviewing The Drowning of Arthur Braxton later this week. Preview: It's great!


Hi Caroline, congratulations on the publication of The Drowning of Arthur Braxton and thank you for popping over to Writer’s Little Helper.

What would be the name of your imaginary bookshop? The lighthouse. That’s possibly a rubbish name for a bookshop, but I’m all for ‘saying what you see’.

Where would your imaginary bookshop be located? In a lighthouse, but not a lighthouse by the sea or on rocks. My bookshop would be a lighthouse in the middle of a town. It would look wonky, some would tut at it, others would whisper that it’s an eyesore. Not everyone would want to step inside my bookshop. I would think it to be the most beautiful place in the world.

Would your bookshop have any special features? E.g. a performing stage, a cocktail bar, etc. There would be disco balls, a roller-rink and power ballads from the 1980s available in headsets (free of charge). This would be on the top floor, so disco balls would emit light from a system of lamps and lenses and aid navigation to the shop. I fear that has nothing to do with books, but I’d quite like the top floor of my shop to host something a little bit different. There would be free cake in my bookshop, far too much cake, squishy sofas and people who liked to smile in my bookshop. The staff will love books and cake, there will be curves to hide in, as not everyone likes to be seen. (JB - Please can I have a job?)

What would make your bookshop different from all of the other ones? Possibly it being in a lighthouse, but mainly it would be a safe place, it would be an escape from the real world. My lighthouse would be open when it was both dark and light.

What sections would you have in your bookshop? And what sections would you ditch?
I’d possibly ditch ALL sections and the alphabetical ordering system. I’d have all the delicious books muddled together on shelves that curve around the walls. My bookshop would be about searching, about climbing spiral staircases to stumble on a gem, about taking the time to discover a new book. The books would be dusty and wanting to be taken home.

Every bookshop needs a display table. Which books would you have on your display table? Why? I don’t think I’d like a display table. I quite like the idea of all the books being equal, of them all waiting to be found. A display table would suggest that some of the books are better than others, that they deserve to be chosen before those waiting on the shelves. I’d like the finder to not have been influenced, for the exploration to be within their control.

If you could run only one author event who would you have? You can pick a living or dead writer. What sort of event would they run?
I’d like a Mad Hatter’s style tea party with Roald Dahl. Everyone would dress as a character from one of his books and we’d feast on huge cakes and drink tea from china cups. Mr Dahl would answer questions, then he’d read the first chapter of ‘Danny Champion of the World’ and the ‘Dirty Beards’ chapter from ‘The Twits’. The event wouldn’t be about selling books or a rushed frenzy for a signed copy. It would be about words and tea and cake. (Excellent choices!)

A customer comes up to your till with a copy of The Drowning of Arthur Braxton and asks you to give them a reason on why they should buy it. What would you say? I’d probably blush, stutter, then suggest a different book. I’d be absolutely rubbish at selling my own novels. But, if pushed, I’d ask if the customer believed in the power of love to bring redemption and hope to even the bleakest of childhoods. And if the customer nodded, I’d smile.

What sort of cake would you offer when launching your book in your bookshop? Never just one type, I’d have a selection: lemon drizzle with a crusted almond topping, Battenberg with additional marzipan, Christmas cake with cheese, Pavlova, tiny gingerbread people, individual portions of tiramisu, fig and almond cheesecake and a batch of pretty pastel macaroons.

CAROLINE SMAILES lives in the North West of England with her husband and three children. The Drowning of Arthur Braxton is her fifth novel. She can be found at www.carolinesmailes.co.uk and twitter.com/Caroline_S

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