Posted by: Natalie | April 20, 2010

Epiphany at Mecca

Not Bingo.

As you walk out of New Street station, through the Pallasades ‘shopping centre’ and onto New Street proper, you are confronted with two things; one – the number of people shopping in a Tuesday morning in April; The second, as you look down the shopping street towards the Bull Ring, a towering block of a building dominating the blue sky. My Mecca, Waterstone’s book store.

The Waterstone's building at the end of New Street, Birmingham

It is by no means the prettiest bookshop in the world, it’s not even the prettiest Waterstone’s in Birmingham – the smaller New Street store being the more ornate and architecturally inspiring – but it has five floors of loveliness! It has an immense selection of books in almost any genre of book you can think of. The children’s section is possible the best I have ever encountered – last year they had a month long ‘Where’s Wally’ challenge. They had hidden a Wally somewhere in the book store and prizes were given for the children who found him!

Anyway, I did as I wrote earlier and took the train in to carry out some research. I had a lovely hour flicking through pages and musing to myself about the day my name would grace the shelves. I then took myself into the coffee shop that is always inevitable in these size stores. Hot beverage purchased, I sat myself on one of the high chairs that looked down the length of New Street and the unobservant shoppers as they meandered their way. Flitting between the hot chocolate and the people watching, I began reading through some of my own pages, trying to draw comparisons with some of the books I had just thumbed. I wanted to cry Eureka! But I suspected this would distress the Metro reader to my right.

It wasn’t as if everything suddenly became clear, far from it, but one of my many issues seemed to resolve itself. My sections are far too long. I need to cut huge parts of my book. Its not that I feel they are unnecessary, but children probably will. I think I have forgotten my audience a little. I am aware of who it is I want to write for, but I think I have over-indulged my vanity and written more for me than anyone else. I think I have tried to be too complicated and complex, tried to add too many layers too early in the series. Patience is a virtue, but I very much doubt that the 9-12 bracket have the patience I am crediting them with.

I still hold strong of my selling point though – I think it is a potential ‘winner’, if I can actually use that word. The 9-12 section is, as far as I can see, only OK for able readers. There is a difficult point where these readers begin to pick up the teenage fiction. The problem is, many are trying to read these type of books before they are emotionally or socially mature enough. Just because they can read beyond their age does not mean they should be given subjects beyond their age. I genuinely believe that my potential books can bridge this gap, and further research today gives me courage once again.

God bless the book shop for putting me on track today. The only downside with bookshop research though is the fact that they have 3-for-2 deals on. I succumbed. The pile has grown once more! Eeek!



  1. Oooh – what did you buy??

    • Well, the Sally Gardner you recommended, “The Silver Blade” Queen of historical fiction, “Shiver” by Maggie Stiefvater, and my research compelled me to buy a book I wouldn’t normally have picked up, “Witchfinder, Dawn of Demontide” by William Hussey. All with pretty covers!

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