Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Gospel According to Thursday Next

Shortly before Nicki and I opened Mostly Books, we drew up a list of 'dream' authors who we had no chance of getting in initially, but who we would wait patiently for until an opportunity arose. Near the top of that list was Jasper Fforde, and on Tuesday night we realised our long-held ambition of enticing him to Abingdon.

It was very much worth the wait - one of the best events we've done.

We've met Jasper a couple of times, and his reputation as being one of the most more approachable, entertaining, down-to-earth guys is well-deserved. He actually talks like he writes: disarming, compelling, full of lessons if you know where to look - and slightly random at times!

We held the event in the suitably reverential St Nicolas Church, just down the road from the shop. It's a fantastic venue, and the event was meticulously planned, but (just like his books) you get the impression that with Jasper, you are never quite sure if any random events will occur to throw plans awry - and so it proved. Half an hour before the event started, workmen closed the street outside the church and started digging it up. As the street machines moved ever closer, the impression inside the church was one of a washing machine - but the ancient building proved remarkably soundproof, and the PA system was up to the job of transmitting Jasper's words to his 'congregation':
Mr Fforde slipped effortlessly into the 'english country vicar' role:
...and the packed church was treated to topics as diverse as dealing with rejection (of the publishing sort - Jasper was rejected 76 times before The Eyre Affair was finally published), the books he read as a child (and adult), whether there might ever be a Thursday Next film, and the origins of some of the more bizarre elements in the Thursday Next and Nursery Crime books.
He revealed that there is to be a sequel to both The Last Dragonslayer and Shades of Grey, and after talking and answering questions for over an hour, stayed for another hour meeting fans and signing books...
...and posing for photos of course!
A truly wonderful evening, and we are very grateful to Jasper for making it such a memorable event for his fans, some of whom had travelled all the way from Swindon to attend (and that's not a joke).

Jasper has an array of rubber stamps which he uses on different books when signing, and one of these refers to doing your 'Civic Duty'. Yours - as Jasper was very keen to point out - is to buy copies of his books, read them and get all your friends to do the same. We concur. And if you get them from Mostly Books in the next few days, they'll be signed as well...

Update: see Jasper's tour blog to see what he thought about the visit, other things he's up to...and if he might be coming to a bookshop near you!

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