Anyway, I was there to talk about My Friend The Enemy, which has been longlisted for the Wirral Paperback of the Year. It was a good chance to meet other longlistees – fellow Chicken Sam Hepburn, Dave Cousins (who might have a future in stand-up), Siobhan Corham and Kate O’Hearn – but best of all was the chance to meet lots of lively young readers from a number of local schools who came to meet us.
The event was well organised by the fantastic staff of Wirral Libraries, and the students who came to listen to us managed a whole two hours with no one falling asleep!
Novelists aren’t saving the world. We’re not eradicating global warming or curing terrible diseases, but hopefully we add something to the world – a little bit of colour maybe, something for people to enjoy and to talk and think about. And you know what? It really means a lot when somebody tells us they’ve enjoyed something we’ve written, or been moved by it in some way. So the high point of my day in (The) Wirral wasn’t being long listed (though, that IS brilliant, and I feel honoured to be one of the few selected), it was when another Dan came to talk to me about how much he’d loved reading My Friend The Enemy. It was fantastic to see Dan so animated and excited when he was talking about the story and the parts of it he’d enjoyed the most.
But that’s not all. You see, Dan’s teacher told me she’d always had trouble getting him to read anything. Something in my story, though, had grabbed him and really captured his imagination. Dan is now excited about reading my next book My Brother’s Secret, and I’m hoping he enjoys that too, then goes on to read more and more.
So, no, books and stories don’t save the world . . . they just make it a better place.