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Now that most of my nephews and nieces (known jointly as “the niblings”) are adult, I don’t have as many Christmas presents to provide as in previous years.  But there are some mainstays, and as I was working my way through the list – planning ahead in November, as some parcels go overseas – I did consider giving people copies of “Fatal Forgery” and/or “The Man in the Canary Waistcoat”.  But I backed off, through fear of appearing both conceited and penny-pinching: would people open a package containing one of my books and think, “That Sue – she’s so cheap that she just gives me one of her own books, and what makes her think it’s any good anyway?  Now I’ll have to pretend to read the blasted thing and say how much I enjoyed it.  I’ll just skim the last two pages so that I can answer any questions.”

So in the end no-one got the gift of Sam.  But then an odd thing happened.  Three gift recipients contacted me on Boxing Day to say how much they had liked my presents, but how surprised they were not to receive one of my books.  “I was sure you’d send one, so I didn’t buy my own – but now I will,” was the general response.  Thrilled though I am to get more sales, it did make me ponder.  Do people like receiving books from their authors, or does it just pile on the pressure to (a) read them, and then (b) enjoy/pretend to enjoy them?  Or perhaps a middle way is best – that of sending books to people you think would enjoy them anyway, even without the personal connection/obligation.  I’ll have to decide for this time next year, as I start serious plotting for “Plank 3” – that’s for this afternoon.