Writing Life

Bookshops (and booksellers) I’m thankful for

1. The Rocketship Bookshop, Salisbury

The Rocketship Bookshop will always hold a special place in my heart. It was the first shop to post pre-order links for SMALL! months before anyone else was even talking about it. And it was the first shop I visited to sign copies, which was another pinch-me moment.

Jo, the owner really knows her stuff. She hosts all kinds of events and does gorgeous picturebook readings. And, oh, the wrapping! Order online and she’ll wrap your books beautifully – often with paper and bows that colour-cordinate with your chosen bookcovers.

If you’re looking for the perfect children’s book, Jo will find it.

Order from The Rocketship Bookshop here.

2. Waterstones, Ashford

I’ve visited lots of branches of Waterstones in the last few months (and have loads more on my list) but Emma Pullar in the Ashford branch is extra special. She’s been the biggest champion of SMALL! but also of so many children’s authors I love. She posts great recommendations on Instagram and Twitter and has a packed calendar of book events in her branch.

I was thrilled to run one of my first ‘Create a Swamp Ceature’ sessions for SMALL! with her. And because she’d worked so hard to tell young readers about the book beforehand, I met my first bookworm who’d already read it. (As a debut, I’m used to drumming up event interest from children and grown ups who happen to be in the store when I’m there. The idea of children coming to meet me … on purpose still feels extraordinary.)

Huge thanks also go to the other Waterstones branches who’ve hosted events with me, including Harrow (twice!), Salisbury and Worcester. And Filipa and the Trafalgar Square team hosted the most fabulous launch for SMALL! too.

Find your local Waterstones.

3. Ottie and the Bea, Blackheath

Should you decide to move house based on whether or not moving means you’ll get a local children’s bookshop at the end of the road?

I think so.

I’m a creature of habit and felt seriously wobbly about leaving the one-bed flat my husband and I were in for the last nine years. Even though the whole working, eating, cooking, living in the same room thing had lost it’s charm about a week into the pandemic.

So was getting an extra room to write in what clinched the move for me? Nope (although now I have it, its amazing). It was Ottie and the Bea. It’s an absolutely delightful bookshop and toy shop a short walk from my new home. It stocks plenty of children’s books – including signed copies of SMALL! – as well as an adorable range of traditional toys that would make perfect Christmas pressies for little ones. The moment I saw it I thought, yes, I could live here. (The area, not the shop, although if the owner, Julia were willing…😁)

Visit Ottie and the Bea.

Which bookshops and booksellers are you thankful for? Let me know in the replies.

Gifts for writers

Gifts for writers

1. Literary postcards

Obvious State

Selection of Obvious State Postcards from the SHE collection

Obvious State are a New York-based brand, but they also have a UK Etsy shop. When I signed with my agent, my husband gave me their SHE postcard box (in the pic above). Each card features a quote from a famous female author, set against a striking illustration.

Although I can’t find this exact set in the Etsy shop at the mo, they have smaller packs of 24 literary postcards with very similar designs. They also make prints, notebooks, bookmarks and even t-shirts.

All perfect gifts for writers who like pictures as much as words.

2. Medic bag

Galen Leather

Writer’s Medic bag and personalised pencil case

I stumbled across Galen Leather when another writer posted pics of their (currently sold out) Writing Box, which was apparently inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s portable writing desk.

But I love their new medic bag even more. Not least because the bag – designed in the style of a Swiss army medic bag – is also a tribute to Galen’s founder, Zeynep, who sadly died in 2019. This was her last design, and boy does the final product do her proud.

It comes in two sizes and a few colours. I have the smaller one in Forest Green. It’s large enough to carry six pens and a couple of highlighters in separate holders plus a phone and small pencil case. It’s also got pouches for cards, a zip pocket, keyring and space for an A5 notebook or two.

And, quite frankly, it’s fun. I love its vintage look and the way its magnetic sides let you spread its contents over a desk. This is definitely the type of bag that would get attention on author visits. I know child me would have been besotted by it too.

A perfect gift for writers on the move who want to carry their stationery in style.

3. Beautiful hardbacks

The Folio Society

Folio edition of Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys

Oh my goodness, I love, love, love The Folio Society. One of my lifetime #WriterGoals is to write a book that Folio later publishes. So if you know anyone at The FS, feel free to pass that on… 😉

Their hardback, illustrated editions of loved books are real works of art. And they have a decent range of children’s books, alongside nonfiction and fiction titles.

My Folio copy of Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys is stunningly illustrated by Francis Vallejo and comes with fabulous spiderweb spredges (sprayed edges).

Best of all, while being lovely to look at, The Folio Society’s books feel robust enough that you’re not scared to sit down and actually read them. Which, afterall, is still the point of a book.

A perfect gift for anyone who wants a special edition of a favourite story to treasure forever.

What would you buy the word wrangler in your life? Or is something special on your wishlist?

Leave a reply to let me know (then maybe we can go shopping)