Right, lets hand over to Jemma....
What would be the name of your imaginary bookshop?
‘Prologue’. I often find that my relationship with a book begins in the shop: a handle of the cover, a read of the blurb, perhaps the opening page, and a quick check that the text isn’t too small. It isn’t a full on romance, but it’s a prologue.
Where would your imaginary bookshop be located?
I’d want a lot of people to come in, so in a high street. But I’d like them to be real readers, not just looking for somewhere to buy a birthday card. So maybe tucked around a corner of lovely high street, preferably near my house as I don’t want to commute.
Would your bookshop have any special features? E.g. a performing stage, a cocktail bar, etc.
I love live book events: readings, talks, anything that turns books into an interactive experience. As part of a panel event last week at Blackwell bookshop in Oxford, I took part in playing Ex Libris – an hilarious bookish game a bit like Call My Bluff. It was brilliant. So I’d like my shop to host things like that. It would also have a coffee/tea bar. And maybe some little bed pods for people to curl up in.
What would make your bookshop different from all of the other ones?
Definitely the bed pods. And maybe I’d have a system where customers can make recommendations of books to read, like those staff picks but from enthusiastic readers. And I’d put all the indie books at the front!
What sections would you have in your bookshop? And what sections would you ditch?
I don’t think I’d ditch anything. Whatever gets people reading is a good thing. But I’d definitely add a section for books that I read as a child that are no longer published – for personal nostalgia rather than commercial sense probably. And I might organise sections according to what mood you’re in: books to read if you want to feel uplifted, for example; books to read it you want to cry; etc.
Every bookshop needs a display table. Which books would you have on your display table? Why?
I’d have a table called ‘Great books you’ve never heard of’. For obvious reasons. There are so many wonderful stories published all the time, but often, unless you’re with a big publisher, or have an incredible stroke of luck, they can get lost in the bedlam. I’d like to dedicate a table to finding these books, and making them a bit more visible.
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 pick Ian McEwan, and he’d run a kind of Murder Mystery event where he’d narrate a story and you’d have to make guesses along the way, attempting not to be fooled by his absolute mastery over Tension and Foreboding.
A customer comes up to your till with a copy of your novel and asks you to give them a reason on why they should buy it. What would you say?
I’d tell them I’ve never seen another book that I felt more personally connected to.
I’d also tell them that it’s about forbidden love, prejudice, expectation, and hatred. That set between Israel and London it will give a taste of both the foreign and the familiar. And that is explores issues about family and identity and truth that will hopefully challenge some of their current ideas, and keep them thinking about them afterwards.
What sort of cake would you offer when launching your book in your bookshop?
Honey cake. It tastes good. It’s in the book. And it symbolises a sweet year to come.
Chains of Sand by Jemma Wayne is out now in paperback (Legend Press, £9.99)