Here author Stephanie Butland explains a little about her book and why we love bookshops:
People often ask whether Lost For Words is based on a specific bookshop. I used to say 'no' - which is technically true, but also disappointing, both to me and to the person who asked the question. (Maybe that's why we need fiction - because what is technically true can also be disappointing?)
Then I realised that, although I can't point to any one bookshop and say 'yes, it's that one', the place where my heroine, Loveday, works is full of real elements of real bookshops that I've visited over the years.*
The sense of twisty-turny mystery of Lost For Words is from a bookshop I got lost in as a child. Well, I felt lost. Obviously I wasn't, because I was in a bookshop; for 'got lost in', read 'briefly lost sight of my parents and panicked'.
The central reading table is from my 'local', Barter Books in Northumberland.
I borrowed the tipsy reading group from a cafe-bookshop I was browsing in - a bookseller was valiantly trying to bring the discussion back to order.
The gothic-novel-reading old lady who interrupts Loveday's lunch is a customer from my own bookselling days. I could go on....
So Lost For Words is really a sort of Everybookshop. I now say that to people who ask which shop it's based on, and we are all much happier.
I think it's because we recognise that each bookshop we visit, while it may be a unique experience, is also part of a continuing conversation with books, and booksellers, that spans all of our reading lives. Readers understand this, and so do bookshops, and so do booksellers.
Even Loveday, who would like to see the introduction of a Bookshop Proficiency Test for customers, is part of that conversation: books are about the only thing she is really comfortable talking about. Which is just as well, because if I walked in to Lost For Words, I'd start talking to her as though we already knew each other; I'd launch right on in with 'Have you read this?' or 'ooh I loved that', as I do with anyone, in any bookshop. Or maybe that should be 'Everybookshop'.
*Although I've been told it's possible to walk past a bookshop, I don't believe it.
Stephanie Butland will be appearing in our very own impossible-to-walk-past bookshop Jaffé & Neale on Thursday 27 April at 8pm for our Love in a Bookshop event alongside Veronica Henry, whose latest book is How to Find Love in a Bookshop. ChipLitFest patron, broadcaster and novelist, Sue Cook, will be chairing this fabulous event, Tickets £8.50 including a glass of wine.
Stephanie will also be on the Readers First stand at the Festival Information Point in the Market Square on Saturday 29 and Sunday 30, so do come along for a chat about Lost for Words, bookshops, where to get more free books or really anything to do with books!