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Is there any better way to spend an evening than locked in a closed bookshop and talking to avid crime readers about the Sam books?  Short of having Daniel Auteuil and Luca Zingaretti as waiters, handing out cherries coated in dark chocolate (the cherries, not the actors – although…), I can’t think of how to improve the experience.  And so you can imagine how thrilled I was to be invited to read at the Heffers annual “Murder Under the Mistletoe” festive crime fiction event.  “Heir Apparent” was even in the window of the shop:

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It wasn’t just me, of course: I was one of ten authors featured, and we each read a three-minute extract from our latest book and then gave our recommendation for a good book to read at Christmas.  I chose a passage from “Heir Apparent” that doesn’t talk about the crimes at the heart of the plot – inheritance fraud and identity theft – but rather examines the relationship between Sam and Martha, and that between Sam and John Wontner.  I think it was well-received – at least, people laughed in the right places.  Not many of the other readings had much humour, and one is still giving me nightmares.  And for my Christmas recommendation I chose “The Prayer of Owen Meany” by John Irving – he’s one of my very favourite authors, and the description of the nativity play in “Owen Meany” is one of the very funniest things I have ever read.  As Victoria Wood would have said, it made me snort chips up me nose.

In other writerly news, I am working hard on the text of “The Solo Squid” – my non-fiction handbook on how to run a happy one-person business – and am moving onto the exciting stage of thinking about the cover.  I’ve done my research into the differences between an octopus and a squid (both have eight arms, but the former has a round head while the latter has a triangular head with two fins as well as two long tentacles and a backbone) and have told the marvellous team at Design for Writers my ideas of how the cover might look (with reference to similar business-y books on Amazon whose covers I like or dislike).  From this unpromising sow’s ear, they will create their usual silk purse.  He’s no Sam, but I hope the squid will gather his own fans – perhaps I should give him a name…  Only squidding!