Someone said to me, ‘It must give you such a thrill, to walk into a bookshop and see your book on the shelf.’ Well, yes. Also, no. There was a time. Then I went through a brief phase of writing humorous non-fiction that didn’t belong with the joke books and didn’t quite belong in the psychology section either, so would just get chucked any old place. I once found a copy of Parents’ Survival Guide filed in the mountaineering section, a stretch too far I thought, even given the undoubted Himalayan-size challenges of raising children.
I quickly developed a kind of protective tunnel vision. These days when I go into a bookshop I never look for my own books. I mean, why set oneself up for disappointment? No, I head straight for whatever it is I want to buy.
So if being on the shelf, squeezed in next to all those Winston Grahams, no longer excites me, what does? Well I’ve come to realise how very attached I am to my characters, how much I miss them when a book is finished, and how truly thrilling it is to see them or hear them brought to life on the radio or the stage. And as there is so far no sign of a stampede of directors gagging to get their hands on my stuff I’ve decided to do it myself. I’m thinking of calling it Pig in a Poke Productions. It will be a wholly owned subsidiary of Laurie Graham Inc.
Some of you may remember I allowed Nellie Buzzard and Dick Morphew out from between the pages of A Humble Companion for a few weeks last year and they had a bit of fun, Tweeting and blogging. Next month, to mark the publication of their mass market paperback, I’m going to let them stretch their legs and air their opinions again, and on September 15th at the Chiswick Book Festival in West London I’m allowing them even freer rein. They’ll be sharing a platform with Mr Adrian Teal of the Gin Lane Gazette for an hour of 18th century shenanigans. Anything may happen. And it very probably will.