A few days ago I posted a tweet requesting that if people wish to buy my books they do it from their local bookshop, please.
It struck a chord with bookshops, authors, illustrators, but also drew some negative comments, which I did try to take on board, but at day’s end, I stand by what I said. If you can, please, support your local bookshop, bookseller.
For years now I have worked in partnership with Solva Woollen Mill. We have a glorious symbiotic relationship. They enable people to buy signed copies of my books, sending them anywhere in this world. All the books are sold at full price, there’s no mark up for signing and dedicating and over the years there is a growing and loyal band of people who have supported us in our endeavour. They package the books beautifully, and the postage helps to ensure the continuation of the local post office in Solva, supporting another local business.
So, let me show you the Mill.
You get to the mill, snug in the Middlemill valley, by crossing a bridge. It’s the kind of bridge under which trolls might dwell. Upstream, downstream, the water dances with light. The other day when I looked down into the river I saw a dipper! A dipper! Tom, the owner and weaver says that kingfishers flash up the river, otters live up the valley and one year they saw a baby otter.
Often a heron will stand at the weir sill, and an eel trap has been put in to enable the eels to swim upstream with more ease.
All of these, appart from eel, are Lost Words and can be found in The Lost Words, by Robert and myself.
Brambles grow around the mill, a willow tree, young, grows beside the river, ash trees people the valley and in the quarry opposite ravens nest. There’s also ivy in plenty, curling over old wicker baskets. Wrens weave in and out of the brambles and thorns. It’s almost as if the book is inside and outside the mill at the same time.
Inside the mill you can hear the sound of the looms moving and the weavers work, a steady rhythm, beautiful rugs and runners.
There are still about 30 copies of The Lost Words left that will have both mine and Robert’s signatures. We had 200 labels, thanks to Hamish Hamilton. Each book is also stamped with a unique stamp, designed by me, exclusive to The Mill and The Lost Words.
The Lost Words costs £20. It’s a big book, heavy. For the first run of books bought from the mill each purchase enters you into a draw to win the tiny finch painting, in watercolour and gold leaf.
The Mill have my other books too.
So, we are having a launch on 28th Sept. Come if you can. If not we will have camera ready to document the event. And you can order online here. If Hannah is around I will try and get her to make a film for us. In the meantime, I am hoping you’ve enjoyed a wander around the mill. And I would like to thank all those who have bought from the mill, who have supported us so far in our venture. People like you make it possible for me to continue to do what I do.
I’m taking a rest for a while. I have books waiting in the boundaries, stories wanting to be written, paintings to paint. Promoting these 4 books is going to be hard work for the next few weeks. I know it sounds naive, but when I stated working in books some 25 years ago publishing was a different world. I didn’t realise that in order to sell work I would have to do so much, away from home, appearing at festivals, book launches, talking about the work. I love the peace of home, the quiet of the studio, the wild of the hill and the feel of the sea on skin. I am looking forward to meeting people, very much. I’m also very nervous of events, speaking, talking. But I know I will meet many new friends, and, like I said, thank you. Without readers, without lovers of books, without people with a passion for words, for art I wouldn’t have been able to do the things I do. Thank you sometimes does seem like too small a word.
I do hope I get some time to paint over the next couple of months. I’ll be painting at Blue Ginger, near Malvern on Saturday. Come and say hi. They have artwork on show from One Cheetah, One Cherry.