Putting the Whitby in Whitsborough Bay

Yesterday was a great day for me for two reasons. One was that it was Pancake Day and I just love pancakes. The sight and smell of them takes me back to childhood when my older brother and I used to wolf down pancakes quicker than mum could cook them in an effort to be the one to eat the most. I have butter and sugar on them. Yes, I know there probably couldn’t be much more of an unhealthy topping than that, but if you’re going to pig out, you might as well do it in style! Oink!

IMG_0814The other reason yesterday was a great day was a far more important one. After work, I travelled half an hour up the stunning North Yorkshire Coast to Whitby Library where I attended the final of four talks that I booked through North Yorkshire Libraries last year after the launch of my debut novel, Searching for Steven.

Whilst I don’t get nervous about speaking in front of an audience thanks to years of being a Trainer, there’s always a sense of trepidation as to how many people might actually turn up. And what if nobody does? I was delighted to have an audience of eleven last night, plus library staff.

There’d been a couple of writers in the audience for my very first talk at Scarborough Library last June, but there were several members of the local writing group who attended last night and it was a real treat to have a mix of readers and writers. One of the writers was incredibly supportive. On arrival, she immediately told me that she’d bought a ticket as she loves to hear writers speak, then she’d spotted my book on display so immediately borrowed it, read it, and loved it. Awww. How very kind of her.

IMG_1557I have a standard presentation that I deliver, giving a little bit of background about me (day job, family etc.), why I write under a pseudonym, what got me into writing, where the idea for Steven came from, how I developed the story, the road to publication, and launch day. However, I tweak it every time and am always open to questions. The group had lots of questions ranging from whether I was local, whether I used any software to write on (e.g. Scrivener) and, “What’s the difference between romantic comedy and chick-lit?”

My generous audience then bought six copies of Steven and four copies of Raving About Rhys. This isn’t available to buy as a paperback, but I had a number of copies printed as an exclusive for events such as this.

Whitby was a library I was particularly pleased to speak at because Whitby’s a very special place. I was brought up in a market town about forty minutes inland and north of Whitby and often visited there in my childhood. I have wonderful memories of being there with my late grandparents, of trips into the town as a Guide and Ranger (there’s a Girlguiding House in the nearby village of Egton), and more recently visits with my own family.

P1050480My very first published writing was inspired by Whitby: a short story appearing in the English Heritage anthology Whitby Abbey Pure Inspiration featuring short stories set at or inspired by Whitby Abbey and sold in aid of the Abbey itself.

And, finally, Whitby part of the inspiration for my Whitsborough Bay series of books. Whitsborough Bay is a fictional North Yorkshire seaside town, but it’s pretty much my hometown of Scarborough with a bit of Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay mixed in there (see where I got the name?)

The lovely writer who’d read Steven said she actually pictured Sarah’s shop, Flowers & Gifts, as being a particular florists in Whitby, with other settings in and around the town. I loved the idea that there was enough detail for her to picture the setting but not so much that she couldn’t create her own sense of place.

IMG_1213.JPGA huge thanks need to go to Chrys, Heather, Sharon and all the other staff at North Yorkshire Libraries who’ve organised such professional, welcoming events for me. I felt particularly honoured last night that there was a banner outside announcing the event. Made me feel quite famous and important! Hee hee! Thanks also to Sainsbury’s who provided a couple of raffle prizes and some chocolates which was very kind of them, and The Whitby Gazette who sent a photographer round and who are going to cover the event in the paper. Exciting!

I don’t have any more talks booked in just yet at the libraries, but I’m sure I’ll do more as the year progresses. My next talk is at the Scarborough Writer’s Circle next month which I’m really looking forward to.

Jessica xx

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2 thoughts on “Putting the Whitby in Whitsborough Bay

  1. I’m glad your library talk went well, Jessica. It must be scary beforehand, worrying whether you will get an audience, and I’m sure that must put off some writers from giving talks. I’m glad you had a warm and interested audience. I love that banner! Did you take it home??

    • Thanks, Sue. I’d have loved to take the banner home. I did email them afterwards and ask whether it was something they were able to recycle or whether they binned it, in which case pretty please could I have it? Alas, it’s something that they get to reuse so I just have my photos as mementoes instead x

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