Actually, not only were there books in this bookshop, there were authors and publishers too. In fact, it was Southcart Books' Writers Gathering, bringing together a selection of local talent in the only independent bookshop for miles around.
A thoroughly lovely time was had by all. It was great to hear what other writers from a whole range of genres are getting up to, and to compare various notes and tactics afterwards. It was also great to talk about steampunk and writing with people relatively unfamiliar to the scene - although The Automata Wars are more genre straddling than strictly steampunk, there's certainly a lot of influence (though, as we discussed on the day, since The Automata Wars don't contain any reference to airships, can they possibly be steampunk??).
With any luck, Scott and Amy, Southcart's owners, will soon be holding a few copies of both volumes of The Automata Wars in stock, which will be fantastic. And we look forward to more events of a similar type at the shop in due course. Thanks to Scott, Amy and to A. Stuart Williams for putting it all together and hosting it so well.
(PS - if you're trying to find Southcart Books - don't give up! Lower Hall Lane goes round a corner past a building called Market Hall and to the right... I discovered after wandering around Walsall for a while)
Of course, the event also gave me the opportunity to browse the bookshelves a little, and here's where the envy part came in.
There were books on the shelves.
Well, yes, there are books on my shelves too. But for nearly two years now, I've been working on my Masters degree, and most of the books I've actually read during that time have been purely factual, and entirely linked to my studies. They've been interesting. But it's not quite the same thing.
The end is in sight now. In September, I will finish my dissertation, and hand it in. And then.... then... I get to attack the nice pile of books that are calling to me siren-style from my book cases. And who knows, I may even treat myself to a new one (or several), and actually have time to read them!
In the meantime, though, I continue to plough through copies of the Lichfield Mercury from the late Victorian era, in search of ladies of the night (for the dissertation, remember). They're almost as good as a book. My favourite lady, aged 29, when receiving her latest sentence following her 23rd court appearance, told the magistrate she could do 21 days hard labour 'standing on her head'. No wonder she's so popular.
So expect subsequent blogs up to September to contain musings on Victorian newspapers, crime statistics, and attitudes. After all, we're in this together, aren't we? Well, we are now...