Grantown on Spey, organised by the wonderful Marjory Marshall of the Bookmark, a splendid independent bookshop in the town, was extraordinary.
The shop is small, crammed with the kind of books you really want to read - if I lived there, I'd be in there three or four times a week - so the event was held in the Garth Hotel, just along the road, which was also where we were staying. It's a comfortable, typically Highland hotel and we'd go back in a heartbeat.
The audience, especially given that Grantown in reasonably small, was massive - the room in the hotel was crammed with people. Some had even travelled from Inverness. ('I'm very persuasive,' said Marjory, with a smile.) There was a singer too, a beautiful singer who accompanied herself on a Celtic harp and gave us all an idea of what Jean herself must have sounded like. Marjory runs three book groups connected to the shop, which means that there is an excellent baseline group of enthusiastic people to attend any events she organises. Grantown itself is wonderful, a neat little town, 'the kind of town where people seem to care about the place' as my husband pointed out, with lots of interesting little shops, real shops of the kind that disappeared from many lowland high streets a long time ago.
Our next stop was the Apex Hotel at the City Quay, in Dundee - a place we've visited many times, and love. It always feels like coming home, except that home doesn't have a spa, with a pool, a hot tub, and a sauna. And we don't have such a massive bed with fresh, cool cotton sheets, feather pillows. Oh, and a bedroom with a fabulous view. And another nice little duck to take away with us.
My events were in Waterstones, St Andrews - friendly and welcoming. The Jewel has been selling very well to tourists over the summer. And the following night, with lovely Peggy Hughes in the excellent Verdant Works museum in Dundee - a place that should be on any visitor's must-see list. All in all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable trip, and I would do it all again in a heartbeat. Sales of the book are going well too!
Tomorrow, (Friday 23rd) I'm heading off to Wigtown, to the book festival, to discuss Jean with Lee Randall, over tea and cakes - and then on Sunday, I'll be going to Irvine - closer to home - to take part in the Tidelines Book Festival at the Harbour Arts Centre.
After that, I'm a bit relieved to have a break before the next event! I have a big new project to work on, of which more in due course. But I should be able to get a good month's intensive writing done, before we head off to the Tarbert Book Festival at the end of October. Late November brings a clutch of events to mark Book Week Scotland, but not before I've visited Melrose Writers to talk about drama. A busy autumn ahead!