Beaches and bookshops by Chris Higgins

  • Posted 24/11/2017

Beaches and bookshops by Chris Higgins

My favourite places in the world are beaches and bookshops.

Two seemingly contradictory settings have a profound and similar effect on me. They excite me, absorb me, inspire me. They enable me to reach out to new horizons and explore new worlds and at the same time reaffirm the self and world I already know. They fill me with a sense of wonder, of space, of belonging, of being at one with myself and life. Quite simply, they make me a better version of myself.

As a children’s author who lives at the far tip of Cornwall I am lucky enough to spend a lot of time on windswept beaches, playing with my young grandchildren, swimming, paddle-boarding, or simply gazing out to sea while working through ideas for my latest book. No surprises  then that I have set my new series  for youngsters, “Trouble Next Door”, “Trouble at School” and “Trouble on the Farm”, on this wild, exposed peninsular, while  the sea is obviously the catalyst for my latest teen book, “A Boy Called Ocean,” to be published in June 2018.

When I am not writing or playing around on beaches, I am reading. And fortunately for me, I am never short of reading matter because I have the best of bookshops on my doorstep in my home town of Penzance. The Edge of the World Bookshop, run by the amazing Howarth duo, James and Rachael, is a bright and welcoming Aladdin’s cave containing every book you can think of, or a guarantee of obtaining it for you by the next day. One of the most popular shops on our quirky, lopsided high street, James’s creative and constantly changing window displays draw in a steady flow of bibliophiles, young and old, seeking new adventures.

And, the friendly staff never let you down. Full of recommendations they keep up with all the latest publications as well as having a remarkable knowledge of earlier literary gems.  Something is always going on there:  reading groups, book launches, author, illustrator and musical events, school visits, “clinics” for book clubs who need some fresh ideas. Many events with bigger audiences take place in larger local venues and, of course, The Edge of the World Bookshop has a huge input into the Penzance Book Festival each summer.

I think it was Van Morrison who said:

Smell the sea and feel the sea
Let your soul and spirit fly.

He was so right. We’re so fortunate down here on the edge of the world, surrounded by the ocean. But, you know what? He could have been talking about books too.

Thank you, Edge of the World Bookshop, for helping my soul and spirit to fly.


 Pick up a copy of Trouble Next Door from your local bookshop this Saturday Sanctuary.