Thursday, October 23, 2014

Books Are My Bag 2014 - three events, five days, huge fun!

We had such a fantastic day with our authors at the 'Books Are My Bag' Bookshop Party on Saturday 11 October - but it was actually the start of an incredibly busy week. Not only did we have our own 'fab four' local authors in the shop (Alison Mercer, Tom Moorhouse, Neill Cameron and David Melling), we also hosted the book launch for 'The Word At War' on the Monday evening (with Peter Lewis and Philip Gooden), and then sold books at an event in Oxford for Google Chairman Eric Schmidt.

So we thought we would share the week in photos - and thanks to all of our authors who created such a buzz in our little shop over a busy few days!

We started the Saturday with our 'Live Window' and the following schedule...
...We had Prosecco ready, and Imogen baked this cake (featuring the first and last words of all four authors' books - how cool was that?)
Author Alison Mercer - author of 'After I Left You' and 'Stop The Clock' - was first up into the window... she got to cut the cake...
...and grab the first of our Tracey Emin bags as a big thank you!
Next it was the turn of Tom Moorhouse - author of 'The River Singers' and its brand new sequel 'The Rising' - to take the hot seat...
...and enthrall visitors young and old alike with videos of water voles that he helps conserve in Oxfordshire...
...Tom was able to stay whilst illustrator comic maker Neill Cameron got cracking on a truly awesome window illustration. He sketched an outline on the outside of the window... 

...and then got to work on the inside, breaking off periodically to sign copies of his books 'How To Make Awesome Comics' and 'Mo-Bot High'...
The shop was buzzing all day...
...Neill beavered away...
...whilst Tom looked on...

Tom was pretty chuffed to get a Tracey Emin bag...
...and then it was time for our final author David Melling to take his seat. Two incredibly talented illustrators in the shop at the same time!
...David spent the time in the 'live window' creating a 'Hugless Douglas' masterpiece for us...

Whilst Neill finished off the fabulous robot which is still adorning our window...

...which was beginning to attract a lot of interest!

David's finished work through the window..., buzz!
...and another bag from a grateful bookseller!

On Monday we welcomed Peter Lewis and Philip Gooden for the launch of 'The Word At War' a collection of anecdotes and stories to show how language evolved rapidly during the Second World War.
On an awful, rainy night a packed shop steamed quietly as Peter and Philip shared stories of spam, chads and kilroy...

It's a cracking little book - a fab gift for anyone interested in how language evolves - and we have copies signed by both authors in the shop.
On Wednesday we were invited to provide books for an event with former Google CEO and current chairman Eric Schmidt and his co-author Jonathan Rosenberg. 
Despite Oxford's traffic chaos delaying Eric's arrival, the debating chamber was packed to hear Eric discuss everything from Google Glass to being hacked by GCHQ.

We were able take along some young coders from John Mason and Thomas Reade Primary Schools who got to meet Eric. A great was to round off our 'Books Are My Bag' celebration of bookshops and their communities!

Thanks to everyone who came along and supported all our events!

Friday, October 17, 2014

In Conversation...An Evening with David Mitchell

Mark Thornton of Mostly Books will be interviewing comedian, actor, journalist and author David Mitchell about his new book “Thinking About It Only Makes It Worse: and Other Lessons from Modern Life” on Thursday, 13 November 2014, 7pm.

Please note: this event is now sold out but you can pre-order copies of David's book which he will sign on the evening.

David Mitchell is one of the UK’s best-known comedians. He’s also an actor and writer. A former pupil of Abingdon School, he came to prominence as one half of ‘Mitchell and Webb’ and has since won BAFTAs for ‘Peep Show’ and ‘That Mitchell and Webb Look’. He has also starred in ‘Jam and Jerusalem’, ‘The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff’ and ‘Ambassadors’. He writes for the Observer, chairs ‘The Unbelievable Truth’, is a team captain on ‘Would I Lie To You’? and has appeared regularly on almost all of our most popular panel shows, including ‘QI’, ‘Have I Got News For You’ and ‘Mock The Week’. In 2012 he published his memoir ‘Back Story’.

David will be in conversation about his latest book ‘Thinking About It Only Makes It Worse: And Other Lessons from Modern Life’, a collection of essays in which David considers the problems of everything from chocolate toothpaste to Ryanair, Poundland to ‘whether anything can be done about the Internet’. It’s funny, profound and provocative – and shot through with a surprising amount of common sense.

The event takes place at The Amey Theatre, Abingdon School, Oxfordshire OX14 1DE. David will be signing copies of his book immediately after the event.

Tickets are £12 and are available from Mostly Books. They can be reserved by calling the shop or emailing them on Seating is unreserved, and doors open at 6:15pm for refreshments.

You can also pre-purchase advance copies of the book at a special discounted pre-order price of £15 (RRP £18.99 hardback) when purchasing your ticket. All advance purchased books will be collected on the night, and David will sign following the event. Pre-ordered books can be signed by David prior to the event at your request.

(Books can also be purchased on the night for £1.99 off the retail price, or £17).

We have an allocation of tickets for Mostly Books customers that will sell out shortly, so please let us know as soon as you can if you would like tickets. All tickets will be sold in advance – not on the door – and all sales are non-refundable; no discounts or concessions on tickets.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Books Are My Bag Bookshop Party! with Alison Mercer, Tom Moorhouse, Neill Cameron and David Melling

We're having a party - and we'd love you to come.

On Saturday, 11 October we are delighted to be welcoming local authors Alison Mercer, Tom Moorhouse, Neill Cameron and David Melling.

Throughout the day, they will be sitting in a special 'live window', drawing, writing, creating something special - and of course meeting readers and signing books.

It's all happening as part of a national celebration of bookshops called ‘Books Are My Bag’. And we are challenging you to be creative too and become part of our live window throughout the day. We are challenging everyone to come in, sit down, and get creative too with our authors: write a short story or poem, draw a cartoon or picture.

Everyone entering the shop can take part - and you'll be given a sheet starting "Suddenly at Mostly Books...". What happens next is up to you!

And if that isn’t enough to tempt you, there will be champagne, cake, and a few other surprises as well. You'll also be able to get hold of a limited edition 'Book Are My Bag' bag designed by artist Tracey Emin, available exclusively at High Street Bookshops.

We are very lucky at Mostly Books to have so many supportive readers (and writers) who help us continue to thrive. But as the number of bookshops around the country dwindles, there is growing support for those of us who are still passionate about a place for books on the high street. 'Books Are My Bag' is an opportunity for people to celebrate what makes bookshops so special, as hubs of culture and community and a place where literacy can be fostered.

So what's happening on the day?

From 11am, Alison Mercer will be in the window, talking and signing books, creating a piece of writing, and on hand to answer questions about the path to becoming a published author.

Her latest book 'After I Left You' was launched at Mostly Books earlier this Summer - learn more about the author and the book here.

Then from midday, we have wonderful children's author (and ecologist) Tom Moorhouse, author of 'The River Singers' and its follow-up 'The Rising' (just out). This captivating tale of daring, loyalty and adventure involving water voles - based on the author's own conservation experiences - has already been hailed as a classic animal adventure, and Tom will be 'in the window' talking about his experiences, and showing videos of his work with water voles!

Then at 1.30pm we have the awesomely talented Neill Cameron in the window, showing you 'How To Make Awesome Comics'. A regular contributor to legendary comic The Phoenix, and author of YA graphic novel 'Mo-Bot High', Neill will be inspiring comic talent, and creating something special for the Mostly Books window! Everyone shout 'Aaaaiiieee!'...

Finally, at 2.30pm we welcome Abingdon's very own David Melling, creator of the bear that has taken the world by storm, 'Hugless Douglas' (don't believe us? just take a look at the different language versions below). David's going to be creating something extremely special in the window, answering questions about his illustrator life, and signing copies of his books.


Wherever you are in the country, if you are lucky enough to have a great bookshop nearby, we hope as many people as possible will take the opportunity go visit, meet an author, be inspired, and browse some of the brilliant new titles being published.
To find out more - go visit the Books Are My Bag website...

Cute Emergency: Hero Pup with Megan Rix

This week, we took animal-adventure author Megan Rix into two schools in Abingdon - as well as an extra special guest who went down well with all the children...

Children from Thomas Reade Primary School and Chandlings School listened as Megan described her experiences training assistance dogs, and how she used this to tell her stories of animals performing incredible feats of bravery and heroics during times of conflict.

Her latest book, 'Hero Pup', tells the story of a young boy Joe and a puppy, Patch. Joe and his Dad have always wanted a dog, but when Joe's father dies, he doesn't think he will ever have one. But when Joe meets Patch at Helper Dogs, Joe has the opportunity to train Patch to make him a useful companion to someone in need. And as their relationship develops, Joe starts to overcome his feelings of gried in what is a very moving but uplifting story.

The special guest was a retired guide-dog called Dru, brought to the school by her owner Richard. Part Labrador Retriever, part Golden Retriever, 12 year old Dru had actually been a breeding dog for other guide dogs, having had 25 puppies, most of which had gone on to become guide dogs.

Megan explained how she came to be a writer - including her own experiences of being off school with whooping cough for a whole term. Having been at the bottom of her class and not very interested in reading, she had nothing to do but read - with her mum bringing books from the library, and her voraciously reading everything she could get her hands on in the house ((including books she probably wasn't supposed to read!). When she returned to school, she found herself at the top of the class - a great testament to the power of reading for pleasure!  

The children had plenty of questions about her books, but also about her own dogs - and of course Dru.
She also read to the children from Hero Pup (published this week) and signed copies for children who queued up to meet Megan and Dru...

Our thanks to Megan for a truly heartwarming talk (and plenty of cute pictures of animals!), Puffin for setting the whole thing up, the children who behaved impeccably...and of course, we took the opportunity to find out more about what makes Megan tick as an author...

Five questions with . . . Megan Rix's writing life

1.  What are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently working on a World War I-era tale involving a circus dog and a young elephant – the dog attempts to reunite the young elephant with its mother. During World War I a lot of elephants were taken from zoos and circuses and ended up doing heavy lifting work around the country, and the older elephant is logging in the Lake District. I typically think and plan the book for a month before writing, but this one is taking a bit longer.

2.   What is the best writing tip you’ve ever been given?
Don’t stop. You must continue to write, because as you practice you cannot help but get better. Don’t instantly think that you’ll be good, and don’t limit yourself to one kind of writing, because you don’t know how your style will evolve.

3.   What’s the best thing and the worst thing about being a children’s writer?
The best thing is the sheer variety of writing that you can do – for different ages, styles, etc. You have total freedom to set books where you like, when you like. If you write as an adult author, you tend to get stuck with a particular genre (such as crime) but you are really not as limited as that when you are a children’s author. Worst thing – I can’t really think of one!

4.   Do you have a writer’s survival kit, eg a place, thing or snack essential before you can start work?
Years ago, when I was writing books under my real name (Ruth Symes) I would have said yes, I would prepare to write by lighting some incence sticks, etc. But now, and particularly since I’ve owned and trained dogs, I tend to sit on my bed writing with the dogs asleep next to me. One thing I do use is a marvellous digital pen. This lets me write in longhand as if with a traditional pen, but then I plug the pen into my laptop and everything is downloaded as text without having to retype it.

(As regards the dogs, I now just have to say ‘work time’ and they immediately trot upstairs to the bed!)

5.   What was your biggest breakthrough?
It sort of relates to what I mentioned earlier about writing tips – the whole ‘Megan Rix’ pseudonym came about because (initially) I wanted to write about things that had actually happened to me and my family – and to protect my privacy. But out of that came stories about animals, and I changed my style of storytelling. Up until then I had always written in quite a ‘realistic’ style, but with Megan Rix I was able to develop an ‘omnipotent viewpoint’ style. I had never had the confidence before, because at school they squashed you if you tried to use this. It was almost like “The omnipotent viewpoint? Do you consider yourself to be God?”!