Katherine Woodfine: Bookshop Q&A
1. What’s your favourite bookshop?
I love spending time in bookshops and there are so many fantastic ones out there. I’m a big fan of Storytellers Inc in Lytham St Annes, children’s bookshop Tales on Moon Lane, the London Review Bookshop (also a must for fans of tea and cake) and of course, Waterstones Piccadilly, which is one of my favourite places in London. When I came to select a location for Sinclair’s, the fictional Edwardian department store that features in my Sinclair’s Mysteries series, I couldn’t resist placing it on Piccadilly Circus, in the very spot that Waterstones Piccadilly currently stands,
2. What’s your favourite bookshop memory?
We didn’t have a bookshop in Chorley, the town closest to where I grew up (although they now have wonderful indie Ebb & Flo) However, I have very fond memories of childhood trips to Waterstones in nearby Preston, where being told I could ‘choose a book’ was the best treat I could imagine.
My very favourite bookshop memories, however, are of all the amazing displays children’s booksellers created when my first book, The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow, was published. It was incredible to see all their fabulous creations - from papier mâché sparrows, to gigantic versions of the book cover. ‘Visiting’ my books in bookshops is always really special.
3. What book have you gifted the most?
Probably I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. Having said that there are a lot of new babies in my life at the moment, so I’m also currently giving lots of copies of picture books: King Baby by Kate Beaton; Meet the Parents by Peter Bently and Sara Ogilvie; and My Big Shouting Day by Rebecca Patterson, all of which make brilliant gifts for new parents.
4. What’s been your favourite book recommended by a bookseller?
One recent favourite that springs immediately to mind is the excellent Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho, which I picked up after reading a bookseller recommendation.
5. What do bookshops mean to you? What do you love about them?
Bookshops are very special places for me: I’ve worked in several, as a bookseller; bookshop cafes are one of my favourite places to write in; and I’ve been lucky enough to attend (and sometimes to take part in) lots of brilliant and memorable bookshop events.
Most of all, though, they’re wonderful places to explore and discover new books. I can never resist the opportunity to browse a bookshop - you just never know what new and unexpected treasures you might be going to find there.
6. What book is currently in your bag?
There are always a lot of books in my bag! Currently you’d find some non-fiction - In Montmartre: Picasso, Matisse and Modernism in Paris, 1900-1910 by Sue Roe, which is an interesting look at the Paris art world of the 1900s.
I’m always reading lots of new children’s and young adult fiction: most recently it’s been Peadar O’Guilin’s The Call, a gripping dark fantasy inspired by the myths of the Sidhe, and Our Chemical Hearts, a smart YA contemporary by debut author Krystal Sutherland. Going into my bag to read next will be an intriguing new middle grade title, There May be a Castle by Piers Torday.
7. What book(s) will you be picking up during Books Are My Bag 2016? (6th – 8th October)
I’m definitely going to be picking up some of the lovely new editions of one of my favourite mystery series, Dorothy Sayer’s Lord Peter Wimsey books, which have recently been reissued by Hodder.
I also want to treat myself to a copy of The Serial Garden by Joan Aiken, who is one of my very favourite children’s writers - and I can’t wait to get my hands on Crooked Kingdom, the newly-published sequel to Leigh Bardugo’s captivating YA fantasy heist Six of Crows.
Katherine Woodfine is a true champion of children’s literature. Until 2015 she was Arts Project Manager for Booktrust, where she project-managed the Children's Laureateship and YALC, the UK’s first Young Adult Literature Convention, curated by Malorie Blackman.
Katherine’s first book, the bestselling The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow, was published in 2015 and was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, longlisted for the Branford Boase Award and nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal. The second in the series, The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth was published earlier this year, along with Mystery and Mayhem, a short story anthology from the Crime Club.
She is part of the founding team at Down the Rabbit Hole, a monthly show for Resonance FM discussing children’s literature. Katherine blogs at followtheyellow.co.uk. She lives in London.