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Waterstones event showed me in my True Colours


By Barbara Henderson


I run for my train. As regular readers of this column will know, I end up running everywhere. I am rarely late, but cutting it fine is my super power.

My heart sinks when I see unexpectedly lengthy queues at every entrance of every carriage. As an irate woman insists on telling me, the previous train, a direct London Express, has been cancelled and everyone now piles onto our Glasgow train like a pack of starved wolves.

Ticket reservations go out of the window, as does etiquette and common decency, it would seem. Once the frenzy has died down, it becomes evident that there are in fact enough seats for everyone – with a handful to spare, even. Sheepishly, we settle down and hide behind books, newspapers and headphones, or in my case, behind my laptop screen. I have to write the author’s note and the acknowledgements for my new book Black Water, for which the final edits will soon be due.

I’m on my way to a book event in Glasgow’s biggest bookshop, Waterstones in Sauchiehall Street, and I need to work out which readings I am going to give during my slot. It is a joint event between four writers: Juliette Forrest who is launching her new title The True Colours of Coral Glen this evening; Victoria Williamson, author of the acclaimed Fox Girl and the White Gazelle; the poet Louise Peterkin and me. I have never met any of them.

It is billed as a ‘Middle-Grade Extravaganza’, apparently combining "four of the most exciting voices writing for children in Scotland now" and I am still pinching myself that I was invited to take part. Ticket sales have been excellent, apparently, so the pressure is on.

Rain to rival monsoon season lashes past the train windows and I wonder whether the drowned-rat look will go down such a storm in Glasgow’s flagship bookstore. Oh well, it can’t be helped. I have packed light and a change of clothes wasn’t really part of my considerations. I’ll be a talking point if nothing else.

On arrival, a running theme from previous columns re-emerges: wardrobe disasters. I had elected to opt for comfortable gear, given that I was going to spend seven of the next 24 hours on a train. Alas, the other three performers are wedding-style glam. Why do I keep doing this to myself? To top it all, we are directed to four raised seats on a platform, meaning that my jeans-and-tartan-docs combo is on show like a giant spot-the-odd-one-out riddle.

Just as well, then, that the rest of the evening goes without a hitch. Victoria Williamson reads from her refugee story set in Glasgow, Louise Peterkin shares her poetry, I introduce the audience to the fire which destroyed the Victorian Market in Punch before, finally, the woman of the moment takes to the stage.

In keeping with Juliette Forrest’s book, bookmarks are colour-charts and there is a giveaway draw where the inventively named colour becomes the participant’s unique raffle ticket. A varied, vibrant and sparkling evening zinging with energy.

Maybe we are all better off with a little help from our friends. My next book launch will be a joint one with a pal, and I am glad of it.

Look out for:

The True Colours of Coral Glen by Juliette Forrest
The True Colours of Coral Glen by Juliette Forrest

The True Colours of Coral Glen by Juliette Forrest: Coral sees the world around her through a rainbow of colours not visible to others – a day full of adventure is Treasure Island Gold but one with a maths test is Stormy Canyon Grey. When her grandma dies, Coral can’t conjure the colour to match how heartbroken she is. She must go on a Gothic-tinged treasure hunt with witches and ghosts in her not-so-ordinary-after-all town. Inventive, spooky and heartfelt!

The Unmaking of Ellie Rook
The Unmaking of Ellie Rook

The Unmaking of Ellie Rook by Sandra Ireland: A single phone call from halfway across the world is all it takes to bring her home... "Ellie, something bad has happened." I love a good re-imagining of Scottish folklore, and no-one does them better than Sandra Ireland!



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