IBW2021: PL Kane on memories of bookshops in Chesterfield

For this Independent Bookshop Week blog post, PL Kane author of Her Husband’s Grave shares some fond memories of growing up and exploring bookshops in Chesterfield.

PL Kane on bookshops on memories of bookshops in Chesterfield

My main memories of gaining access to books when I was a kid come from libraries and book clubs at school. At least until I was about eleven or twelve. It was around then, on shopping trips with my parents, that I began to notice bookshops more in my local town of Chesterfield and also nearby Mansfield, which my mum liked to visit frequently.

I fondly recall browsing the shelves of second-hand bookshops in both of those places. There was a great one which also catered to RPG and comic fans a short walk down from Chesterfield town centre, and a terrific one up a side-street in Mansfield. Try as I might, I can’t remember the names of either, and they’re not there now, more’s the pity. But I got to know the people who ran them well. Every time I called in I was greeted with SF, Fantasy, Horror and Crime recommendations. They were a huge part of what I call my ‘real education’. Just sitting and devouring novel after novel, anthology/collection after anthology/collection. They helped me become the writer – and avid reader – I am today.

I do remember the name of one indie bookstore in Chesterfield that was there for a long time, though. Peak Books was on the high street. It was around before the new bit of town was created with shops like H&M, River Island and, of course, Waterstones. Again, I got to know the people that ran the Peak Books shop a little, who also had their finger on the pulse with the latest recommendations.

They ran events too, like a signing with Jeffery Deaver which myself and my better half Marie went along to. Back before Jeff was in our anthology Exit Wounds. They also put on a night with Mo Hayder at the local hotel around the time Pig Island came out, which was a fab, entertaining evening. It was a sad day when the shop shut down in town. I believe they did it to concentrate on another store they owned elsewhere…

But at the very least we’re left with more fond memories of a wonderful indie bookstore. They really are the backbone of any writing and reading community, so please do support your nearest one, especially now.

Happy reading!

Looking for more blog posts to read on your coffee break? Check out the rest of the IBW2021 series here!

Her Husband’s Grave is available in your local independent bookshop and on bookshop.org

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