Thursday, 5 November 2015

Guest Post: Colette Dartford's Imaginary Bookshop

Today we have a guest post from Colette Dartford, debut author of Learning to Speak American. Her book is out now, and I'll be reading and reviewing my copy over the next few weeks but in the mean time you can read Colette's answers to the Imaginary Bookshop.


Hi Colette, congratulations on the publication of your novel, Learning to Speak American! Thank you for popping over to Writer’s Little Helper and becoming the latest author to take part in the Imaginary Bookshop series.

What would be the name of your imaginary bookshop?
Words Between The Covers. I thought about abbreviating it to ‘Between The Covers’ but who knows what sort of customer that might attract.

Where would your imaginary bookshop be located?
Not in Bath, where I live, because we already have two excellent independent bookshops, a giant Waterstones and Blackwell at the university. My bookshop would be in St Helena, an idyllic little town in California’s Napa Valley whose only bookshop closed a few years ago. It is missed.

Would your bookshop have any special features? E.g. a performing stage, a cocktail bar, etc.
Well, it’s in the Napa Valley so obviously there would be wine. And coffee and cake. There would also be a discussion area where those who wanted to talk about what they were reading or get recommendations could chat with others. Oh, and dogs would be welcome.

What would make your bookshop different from all of the other ones?
Free books. Everyone who buys a book would have the option of buying the same book for £1 and putting it on a ‘Free Book’ shelf. This way those who wanted a book but couldn’t afford it wouldn’t have to miss out. A bit like an honesty bar, but with books. The idea came to me the other day when I walked past a homeless girl huddled in a shop doorway with her dog and utterly engrossed in her brick-thick paperback. Small pleasures…

What sections would you have in your bookshop? And what sections would you ditch?
Controversial I know, but my bookshop would be fiction only. There are a lot of beautiful non-fiction books out there but Words Between The Covers would be about stories and imagination. And it would have a designated section for debut authors (not that I’m biased) to give them a helping hand.

Every bookshop needs a display table. Which books would you have on your display table? Why?
Prize winners past and present – excellence should be rewarded. There would be a ‘Recommended By You’ display table too.

Customers would be encouraged to nominate books they enjoyed for that table. And a table for books that aren’t selling well to give them a final chance before they go to get pulped.

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?
Difficult question, but I’m going to say Donna Tartt. The Secret History is one of my favourite books, she only produces a new novel every ten years, she’s private to the point of reclusiveness and in every photograph for the last thirty years she has looked exactly the same: glossy dark bob, black suit, white shirt. A style icon as well as a literary icon.

A customer comes up to your till with a copy of your novel, Learning to Speak American and asks you to give them a reason on why they should buy it. What would you say?
It delivers a message of hope, and we all need hope.

What sort of cake would you offer when launching your book in your bookshop?
Carrot cake – I’m vegetarian.


Learning to Speak American is currently available as an ebook but will be published in the new year in paperback.

You can follow Colette Dartford on Twitter.

Learning to Speak American by Colette Dartford is out now and is £3.99 on Amazon. Click here.

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