IBW2021: Louise Mumford’s bookshop date (almost!)

To celebrate Independent Bookshop Week, Louise Mumford – author of Sleepless – looks back on one of her favourite bookshop memories… the time she almost got a date!

Love at first sight?

My favourite memory of a bookshop is an easy one: the day I nearly got a date in the Sci-Fi and Fantasy section of my local Cardiff bookshop.

This was the late 1990s and the Sci-Fi and Fantasy section was nowhere near as popular as it is now. In fact, in those days it was hidden upstairs and at the far end of the store, like a shameful secret…

Turns out not many eighteen-year-old women in Cardiff in the 1990s braved this particular section and so, whenever I appeared, the men browsing would freeze, startled like rare wildlife. It was Terry Pratchett who brought me there. I was a huge fan of his Discworld novels and would stare at the shelf of titles I had yet to enjoy, relishing the long hours of Discworld delight ahead of me, but only buying one at a time to prolong the joy.

Mr Nearly Date appeared at my elbow, asked me which was my favourite Pratchett book so far and if they were any good. I refrained from shoving Reaper Man into his hands and yelling at him to read it then and there while I stood over him and analysed his reactions.

My elbow brushed his.

Our heads bent a touch closer as we stared at the book cover together.

Who knows what might have happened if my mother hadn’t appeared, gave Mr Nearly Date a withering up-and-down look, and told me it was time for lunch at the David Morgan’s café.

Local bookshops are the best

Why independent bookshops mean so much to me is all down to my local bookshop: Griffin Books in Penarth.

My debut thriller, Sleepless, came out in the middle of a lockdown in December last year and Griffin played a huge part in making me feel like a real author when events and meet-ups had all been cancelled. They were genuinely interested and excited for me and, because of them, I even got to do a little Covid-safe book signing despite the restrictions. There is a picture of me from that day in my mask, looking manic and delighted next to a pile of my books.

Mel, Hollie and the team have continued their kind support and lockdown has proved how much they have become a part of the community in Penarth: Hollie hosting Instagram children’s readalongs and craft sessions and the shop continuing with a fantastic array of online events. The high street would be a poorer place without their beautiful, bedecked bay fronted windows.

Want to read more bookshop memories from some of your favourite authors? Click here.

Sleepless by Louise Mumford is available now from your local bookshop or on bookshop.org.

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