By Richard Jay Parker
So far I've done signings in bookshops and a debate in a library with other writers as backup but last night was my first solo gig. It was for a book club in Southampton and I wondered if I could retain the interest of my audience for more than a few minutes.
I needn't have worried. I was very warmly welcomed by an enthusiastic reading group who had all read STOP ME and had plenty of original questions to ask. But as I sat there it got me thinking about how writers need to get out more.
I've touched on this subject before and told this group that you can always recognise a writer at a party because they're usually the last to leave. They spend so much of their time locked away in a stuffy room with only their thoughts for company that any opportunity to talk about their work with similarly inclined human beings is seized grimly and firmly by both horns.
There's increasing pressure on writers to engage with their readers on every level and as I sat chatting last night it struck me that it really isn't a bad thing. How else can you get that sort of one-to-one feedback about your work?
So thanks to Caroline Petty for arranging the event and for everyone who turned up. I don't think there was anyone who didn't want to grill me about something.
I hope I didn't keep them from the polling station. Then again, if they had gone there instead they might not have got in.