Last night I went along with my sister Natasha to a talk & book signing by one of my all time favourite authors Jasper Fforde. I started reading his Thursday Next novels 7 years ago when I was working part-time in a bookshop while studying for an MSc In experimental psychological research methods. The studying was pretty intense & heavy going and I was looking for some escapism. I was drawn to the colourful artwork on the cover of The Eyre Affair
and was hooked from page one. Since then I have read all of his books enjoying every single one of the for their unique blend of humour, fantasy, silliness, literature snobbery & cleverness.
I was really excited to meet him as I am a bit of a geek when it comes to books......my son is named after a character in my favourite book & once you get me talking about books I love you can expect to be stuck listening to me for quite some time while i construct a list of books that you MUST read. There was a slight element of fear that he wouldn't live up to my expectations which turned out to be totally unfounded. He talked for an hour not only about his new book The Woman Who Died A Lot
but about how he writes in general & things that amuse and inspire him. There was talk of bad jokes that he waits years to fit in to his books, ear worms (That song that you hear & just cannot get out of your head), and walking that fine line between silly & stupid, because silly is good, but stupid is awful!
He says that he writes by giving himself dares, such as trying to make a plausible (and not stupid) story out of an opening scene involving a man finding a gorilla up a tree in his Surrey garden. Some of his descriptions of these dares were hilarious & will really add to the enjoyment i get from reading his books. The dare for his latest book was that Thursday's teenage son must save the world by doing nothing at all. I cannot wait to find out how he has made that work!
The biggest laugh of the night came when he spoke about his novel 'Shades of Grey'
. Obviously it bares a similar title to the very badly written books that women are going mad for at the moment & it was joked that it was to be re-released with a really cheap dodgy grey cover & placed near 50 shades go Grey in shops so that it could enter the best seller's list purely on accidental sales! For any Shades of Grey fans out there Fforde revealed that there will be a sequel soon as part of a new 3 book deal.
I think the thing that really struck a chord with me though was when he spoke of his struggles to get published . He began writing novels in the late 1980s & each one was rejected until The Eyre Affair was eventually published in 2001(that novel along received over 70 rejections from publishers). He wrote over 10 novels before having one accepted. Although I imagine it was tough it's refreshing to see people work at something because they love & and have a passion for it. So often today people expect 'instant' fame & acceptance for what they do and give up when success doesn't happen instantly. As somebody starting my own business doing something I love I find his story inspiring and a reminder that if you work your arse off & believe in what you do it will be worth it in the end!
Sometimes for no reason other than to amuse myself I get the overwhelming desire to do something highly inappropriate & embarrassing & last night I had to fight from acting on such an impulse. At the end of the talk a chap from the Bristol Literature festival came on stage to announce the 5 winners of a competition reading each name out in a very dramatic way. Everybody in the audience was looking about expectantly to see if there was a winner amongst us........it was then that the urge to leap out of my seat & hysterically scream "I'VE WON!!! OH MY GOD I'VE WON!!!!" then run on stage and hug the man as if i'd won an oscar, hit me! Instead I laughed to myself and whispered to my sister what I wanted to do.....however i didn't whisper quietly enough & the people in front of me asked loudly "What you've won?!". I was still laughing to myself when we joined the very long queue to have our books signed & meet the man himself
Tash & I spent our time in the queue discussing how many of the books we could ask him to sign for us. She gets easily embarrassed so thought one was the limit.....I on the other hand fancied trying my luck & asking Fforde to sign four of my favourites . She was also cringing at the fact that not only was I armed with a bag full of books for him to sign, but my camera to take a picture of him too! She didn't approve of me taking pictures as you can see above (I'll get in trouble for posting that, but It's too funny not too!).
However the man himself was happy to sign our books & posed for a picture for me ignoring my sister groaning & looking mortified that I wasn't 'playing it cool' at all! We chatted briefly......which was a mistake on my part as I just blabbered on like a crazy fool about his promo picture not being very good & needing updating........I even managed to slip in the phrase 'av a word' in a slight cockney accent just to add to my mortification! I seemed to lose all sense of charm & etiquette and develop an inability to filter what comes out of my mouth! Despite that it was a pleasure to meet him & I cannot wait to get stuck in to his new book! Now all I need is some spare time to do it!
If you are interested in hearing more about Jasper Fforde his website is here
& you can find all of his books available to buy here
! I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!