Sunday, April 28, 2013

Veerle De Keyser would have loved this...

Today I had another one of my adventures!

I have mentioned in a previous post that I am going to doing a masterclass on how to write ghost stories next month at Innerpeffray Library. Librarian Lara Haggerty had kindly printed some posters off for me and I had promised to drop by over the weekend to collect them, time permitting. I also wanted to ask Lara if she knew anything about the fate of the Innerpeffray sundial mentioned in a letter to the Crieff Herald of 1856 (I blogged about this earlier this week).

So this morning I set off with my daughter and drove to the library, but it was not until we pulled into the little carpark in front of the old school house that I realised that the library is shut on Sunday mornings and would not be open until 2pm. Neither of us really fancied driving straight home, so I proposed that we carry on towards Auchterarder and look out for a disused graveyard that Lara had  told me about when we were chatting about the one at Quoig.

We drove for some minutes without seeing anything that looked like a graveyard, and I was beginning to think that maybe I had missed it, or that I had misunderstood where it was. Suddenly, however, my daughter said, "Is that it?" We had found the graveyard. I backed the car up into the muddy entrance, hoping that the wheels would not get stuck in the ruts, and we got out to have a look.

As you will have gathered if you have read some of my previous blog posts, I get inordinately excited about old churches, mausoleums, graveyards, etc. When we went into this graveyard though, even I had to admit that it was probably one for cemetery geeks like me. As far as we could see, the only building was a small mausoleum in the south east corner of the graveyard. Pretty much all the gravestones were so mossy or so weathered that it was impossible to read the inscriptions, and a lot of them were smashed or knocked over. We had a look at the mausoleum, which had "Johnstone" engraved over the door, and then decided to wander along the perimeter, passing behind a large clump of trees.

As we did so, I found myself looking at this:


To say I was surprised would be a major understatement. I had thought that the clump of trees was just that - trees and bushes. Instead I found myself looking at a church. I had had absolutely no idea it was there! In a split second I saw it, as though it had just slid up out of the ground. 

Once we had seen it, it was pretty obvious that there was a church under all that vegetation:


We had been about to go anti-clockwise around it, but I have an entirely irrational aversion to going "widdershins round the kirk", which in the olden days meant that the devil would carry you off! So we reversed our steps and went clockwise around the building until we came to a breach in the north wall and were able to get inside. The nave is open to the sky and has been ruined for so long that great trees are growing up inside its walls. 

A further shock awaited us, and it was this:


That dark patch in the middle of the picture is a doorway leading through into the chancel. The sight of this was so unexpected that I let out a shriek (fool that I am!) and my poor daughter leapt about three feet in the air. The doorway did not look terrifically inviting, but of course I had to see what was inside. 

I couldn't help thinking that Veerle De Keyser, the heroine of Silent Saturday, would have loved this place. It certainly had atmosphere; if I were Spiderman my "spider sense" would have been tingling big time! Here is a photo taken looking through that overgrown doorway:


If you want to see the full set of photographs, they are on my Facebook "Churches I Have Visited" page, here: Ruined Church of St MacKessog

Since I got home again I have done a wee bit of research and the church - of St. MacKessog, as named above - dates back originally to the 1200s although even in its very ruined state you can see that there were more recent additions, such as the 19th century memorials. 

NB There is a notice on the gate to the entrance to this churchyard warning that entry is at your own risk. Very obviously I do not endorse exploring dangerous buildings, and I would not allow my daughter inside the chancel just in case. 














Club Fantasci get their teeth into THE GLASS DEMON!

It's no secret that The Glass Demon is one of my favourites of my books. I loved researching it, loved writing it, and when I had finished writing it I actually slept with the manuscript next to my bed for several months.

I do feel rather bad about having favourites at all - it feels rather like a mother having a favourite child - but at least, as a Twitter friend philosophically observed, it won't make the book need a shrink!

Anyway, given how fond I am of the book, I was thrilled when Club Fantasci chose it as their April Book of the Month. Club Fantasci describe themselves as "the book club taking the stigma out of speculative fiction" and they cover all sorts of things including sci fi, steampunk and paranormal. They meet online to discuss each month's book (glass of wine optional). You can find them on Goodreads as well as here: Club Fantasci

I was unable to attend the virtual meeting to discuss The Glass Demon because although it was scheduled to start at the civilised hour of 7.30pm in the USA, that translates to 1.30am here in Scotland. I guess it would be quite rock'n'roll to sit up all night discussing speculative fiction but sadly I need my sleep! So I watched the recording on YouTube the next day instead. You can see it here:


Huge big thanks to David, Ciara, Dionne and Kriss for this! I was fascinated to hear what they had to say about issues like whether the book belongs to a specific genre, and whether it "feels" like a YA novel or not. They also raised some questions, such as - how did Tuesday come to have such a late baby? (Her youngest, Ru, is a toddler, whilst heroine Lin and her sister are in their teens). 

I decided it would be fun to offer some of my thoughts about the issues they covered and the questions they raised, so this morning I recorded a video response, which you can see here:



In the clip, I'm talking about whether there really is a demon in The Glass Demon, whom I write for, and the pros and cons of writing in the first person, amongst other topics. 

For other videos related to my books - including all four book trailers - check out my YouTube channel on http://www.youtube.com/user/helengrantsays




Thursday, April 25, 2013

Silent Saturday reviewed in Flanders

When I wrote my first novel, The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, which is set in the real town of Bad M√ľnstereifel in Germany, I was occasionally asked what the locals in the town thought of my literary efforts. After all, I had taken their gorgeous and quaint mediaeval tourist town and turned it into a nest of ghosts, monsters and serial killers! Thankfully nobody seems to have been offended (hopefully my deep affection for the place shone through anyway).

I am always interested to know how my books will be received in their real-life locations. I try to be sensitive in the way I portray the settings - for example, I did not think any real Flemish village would want to be associated with the killer in Silent Saturday, so I never named the village in the book, and I deliberately fudged some of the topographical details to ensure that the village was not identified as a real one. However, I set my books in places I know and love, and I hope that my interest in these real-life settings is obvious from the inclusion of local details.

I chose to go over to Belgium to launch Silent Saturday, and whilst I was there I did a series of interviews with local English-language media.

The most recent article about the book is in Flanders Today, a weekly newspaper published in English and with a vibrant cultural section. I'm relieved to see that journalist Rebecca Benoot says that "For a temporary resident, Grant has created a surprisingly accurate portrait of the area, using real-life settings such as the number 44 tram, De Lijn buses and the Zonien Forest, not to mention the incorporation of the language divide in Belgium..." You can read the article here:
Flanders Today Murder Mystery And Mayhem

Meanwhile Fans of Flanders have run a "meet the expat author" interview which you can read here:
Fans of Flanders Meet The Author
Fans of Flanders is a multi-media initiative to spread the word about Flemish culture and attractions to those who haven't learnt Flemish yet. In the interview, I've chatted a bit about my favourite aspects of Flemish culture and also the challenge of writing a book with a Flemish heroine when I myself am British!

Finally, here's a podcast of a radio interview I did with Radio X, a new English-language station in Belgium:
Radio X Silent Saturday podcast
As well as talking about the book, I have read a short excerpt from chapter one, which you can hear right at the end of the interview!



Above: here's one Belgian cultural icon we all recognise! 

Innerpeffray in the 1850s!



This week I had a spare half-hour in the Strathearn Community Library in Crieff, and decided to spend it perusing old copies of the local paper, the Strathearn Herald.

First of all I decided to have a peep at 1958-9 to see whether there was any record of my husband's birth - when he arrived in the world his parents were actually living in Crieff, although they moved on soon afterwards, so he has a kind of claim to be "local", even though I definitely don't! I was delighted to find a birth announcement, which I duly photographed so that I could amaze my husband later.

After that I was at a bit of a loose end, so I decided to look at the very earliest copies of the paper available, which were from the 1850s, when it was still known as the Crieff Herald & Strathearn Advertiser. I wasn't looking for anything in particular, but by pure chance I came across a letter addressed to the editor by "An Antiquary" of Glasgow. The letter was all about Innerpeffray and its library, which is a bit of a pet subject of mine. I thought it might be fun to reproduce it here. The writer says he visited the library "some years" before, so perhaps about 1850 - now over 160 years ago! This is what it says:


INNERPEFFRAY
TO THE EDITOR OF THE CRIEFF HERALD

SIR,  One of the most interesting localities in the neighbourhood of Crieff is Innerpeffray, as there is so much to be seen there. There are the remains of the old castle, still very entire, the ancient chapel with its graveyard and singular monuments, the library of rare and antiquated tomes, the neat modern schoolhouse, the romantic situation which they occupy, and the relics of the noble old trees which adorn it, though the latter are but few in number now. Some years ago I visited them all, and was much gratified by doing so, as they well merit even a more lengthened pilgrimage than that from Crieff. The schoolhouse was at that time untenanted, but I was happy to learn recently that it is now occupied, as the neighbouring children will thus have suitable instruction at their doors, without having to wander for miles in search of it. Several of the tombstones in the graveyard are very quaint, and well worthy of preservation although the effects of time and the weather have sadly defaced many of them, so that their curious carvings and inscriptions can now scarcely be deciphered. The most singular of the whole, however, is still quite perfect, and is such a gem, that photographs of it on a large scale, should be taken for the museum of your Mechanic’s Institution, and to sell to visitors, many of whom, I doubt not, would like to possess a facsimile of this interesting tombstone. I allude to the monument of the Faichney family, on which father and mother and all their children are not only named, but “lively effigies” of each of whom are also represented on the stone, in addition to sundry inscriptions and the ordinary churchyard emblems of mortality.
Means, too, I think, might be used for giving access to the interior of the old chapel, as doubtless much that would interest, in the shape of carvings, inscriptions, and monuments, would thus be thrown open to the inspection of the visitor. In one part of it, I saw through the locked iron gateway, the several pieces of a large and very singular sun-dial, something like the one in Drummond Castle gardens, which well merits being rescued from the vault in which it is immured, and rebuilt in front of the schoolhouse. If this were done, and I sincerely trust it will be shortly, another and most interesting addition to the antiquities of Innerpeffray would gratify the eyes of future visitors.
 I spent an hour, too, with much satisfaction in the library, which has many very rare and scarce works in divinity, history, poetry, geography, and other subjects, a few on astronomy and astrology, and also the “Breeches” Bible, which belonged to Lady Madderty. The books are generally of a class not to be met with elsewhere – the only library of a like kind which I have seen being one at Dunblane, - and the printer’s devices on the title-pages, the illustrations, and the contents of many of them were so quaint and singular, that I would willingly have spent days in that old library, as almost every volume seemed well worth a leisurely inspection. Facilities for reading them there, and also taking them home for perusal were, I understood, granted to certain parties. This I was glad to learn, but yet I regretted at the same time that the latter was permitted, as the bindings of many of the volumes were very defective, and the sheets inside quite loose, so that the latter might easily be lost; and with books of this class such a loss would be irreparable, and greatly to be deplored. Ample funds, I was told, had been left, not only for keeping the books in proper order, but also for adding to their number, from time to time, works of a similar class. Surely if the matter was properly looked after, the latter should yet be done; but, at all events, the repairing of the bindings of the volumes already there should no longer be neglected, as it was painful to see such fine old books going to ruin in this way through neglect. It is possible, however, that this may have been done, and the sun dial again restored to the light of day, since my visit to Innerpeffray, and I shall be happy to learn that such has been the case, - but if not, I trust that what I have said may induce some of your spirited townsmen to interest themselves in the preservation of the valuable old library, and the restoration of the beautiful sun-dial. Apologies for the length of this letter, I am, &c.,
AN ANTIQUARY
Glasgow, 31st December 1856.

If you're interested, here are some pictures of some of the things "An Antiquary" describes! (NB I wonder why he felt the need to hide behind that epithet rather than giving his real name? The letter isn't wildly controversial - unless he expected angry citizens of Crieff to suggest he contributed his own time and money to preserving the books rather than suggesting they did it!)


Above: the library (left) and chapel (right)


Above: interior of the chapel, apparently closed when the Antiquary visited


Above: the Faichney monument 


Above: detail of the monument, which was to Jean Murray and James Faichney and their children


Above: the interior of the library

The one thing I don't recall seeing on any of my visits to Innerpeffray is the sun dial mentioned in the letter. You can see a photo of the one at Drummond Castle Gardens here: http://www.sundialsofscotland.co.uk/
I don't think I have ever seen anything like that at Innerpeffray, but I will be sure to take a look next time, and ask the librarian. 

The library at Dunblane that the Antiquary mentions is the Leighton Library and I must make a visit to that, too! It will probably be some time before I can manage that, since I don't usually have the car during the week, but when I do, I'll be sure to post some details about it. 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Addendum 28th April 2013: I visited Innerpeffray Library today and looked in vain for the sundial, either inside the church or outdoors. I then asked librarian Lara Haggerty, who told me that it is no longer at Innerpeffray. She is going to let me know what has happened to it - so watch this space!  




Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Thrilling events in Perthshire!

If you follow me on Twitter or my Facebook books page, you'll probably know that last Thursday I took part in "2 Poets & A Novelist", a literary event at Strathearn Community Library in Crieff, Perthshire. 

The two poets were Kona MacPhee (far left) and Patricia Ace (to the right of me in the pic) and I, of course, was the novelist. By some strange conjunction of the stars, we all had new books out in the last month or so, which was why we decided to get together and make an evening of it. 

I'm very pleased to say that the event was a big success, with the small lecture theatre at the community campus very nearly packed out. This is not a given for book events - unless you are a very lucky or top best selling author, there are always those occasions where you find yourself talking to three people and a dog, and all of the people are friends or relations of yours! So it was wonderful to find the event so well supported. Three cheers for the book-loving residents of Crieff! 

I kicked the evening off with a slide show and talk about the real-life locations that have inspired my books - including the ruined castles of rural Germany, the high buildings of Ghent and the underground world of European sewers and catacombs. 

Patricia then took the floor and read from her collection of poems, Fabulous Beast. Patricia is a super reader and some of her work is very daring! If you want to find out just how daring, you'll have to get her book, though.

Third up was Kona, who regaled us all with the medical anomalies and frank monstrosities that have inspired her since she was a child poring over an old book of them. The slides that accompanied Kona's talk were pretty staggering. She did warn us that one medical nasty was too horrible to show in photographic form, so she showed us a stuffed toy version instead. This was the teratoma. She warned us not to look it up on Google Images. Of course, this was the very first thing I did when I got home after the event. I agree with Kona now. Don't look it up...

Anyway, big thankyous to all concerned, including Kirsty Brown at Strathearn Community Library, and all those who came along to support us. 

If you live within reach of Crieff and missed the event, but still have a thirst for all things literary, I am pleased to say that I have another one coming up in May. This time I shall be at Innerpeffray Library, which as you will know if you have read my previous blog posts about it, is one of my favourite places in the whole of Scotland. 

On Thursday May 16th I shall be running a Ghost Story Masterclass and Storytelling Evening. The Masterclass is an opportunity to learn all about the craft of writing spine-chilling tales, and will include tips, discussions and some literary "exercises"! The evening event is a chance to hear me read some of my own ghost stories and to hear excerpts from some of the creepier books in the library - which has books dating back to the 1500s. It should be an especially thrilling and atmospheric evening since we will be in the Library itself surrounded by its centuries-old book collection! You can attend the evening event without attending the Masterclass, if you wish. 

The Masterclass costs £20, which includes entry to the evening event too; alternatively the evening event only costs just £5 per person.

You can book by calling Innerpeffray Library on 01764 652819 or using the form available on the Library website, here: Ghost stories booking form



If you're not within travelling distance of Crieff: I'll be posting details of events elsewhere when I know them! I hope to make it back to Belgium too, at the very latest to launch my next book, The Demons of Ghent. Watch this space! 


Saturday, April 13, 2013

In which an old dog learns new tricks...

Today I did something I had never done before: I went to an anime and manga convention - Doj Con, held at the student union in the University of Dundee. My daughter is a great fan of anime and manga but she is not quite old enough to be allowed to attend on her own - anyone aged 14 or under has to be accompanied by a responsible adult (that would be me). We also took along my daughter's friend, who was brave enough to attend in cosplay costume (ie. dressed up as an anime/manga character, in this case "L" from Death Note). I'm not quite as obsessed with the whole scene as the two of them, but you can't live in the same house as a manga fan without getting infected with it in the end. (My personal favourite is Black Butler - the drawings are simply beautiful and the storyline wonderfully gothic.) 


Doj Con was brilliant fun - very busy indeed (getting around the lower floor where the stalls were located required my best Aldi-on-special-offer-day elbows) and extremely friendly. I guess the life of a manga otaku is a bit lonely when 90% of the kids at school are into other stuff, and my daughter and her friend were simply thrilled to find themselves amongst like-minded people. They spent a lot of time suddenly pointing and squealing, "Look, it's Grell!" etc and the rest of it blowing months of carefully hoarded pocket money on posters, badges, DVDs and mugs. The day was proclaimed "awesome" on all sides. 


For me, the day was interesting for other reasons. It was wonderful to see the girls realising how glorious it is to get together with other enthusiasts, whether it is manga you are into, or rock-climbing, or gothic churches, or world music. The other thing was that nearly everyone was very, very much younger than I was. There was a smattering of other "responsible adults" but the majority were university students or their peers. Whilst we were standing in the (very long) queue to go in, we got chatting with a girl standing behind us, who was saying that, long though it was, this was not the longest queue she had ever been in. I said the longest queue I had ever been in was for the Tutankhamun exhibition in London in 1972. This remark got a blank (though not unfriendly) look in return. I guess the 1970s are such a long time ago (especially if you were born in the 1990s) that they are right off the radar. I might as well have said I remembered the queue to see Lenin lying in state in 1924. I suddenly felt old - but actually, not in a bad way. I thought, gosh, I can remember stuff from forty years ago. That is a long, long time. Think of all the stuff I have survived! And the stuff I have done! Although I'm not all that thrilled about getting wrinklier, I wouldn't go back to being 20 if it meant wiping the slate clean of all that. This thought was remarkably cheering. I hope I shall end up being a very jolly old lady of 95 and not one of those ones who grumbles about whippersnappers.

Anyway, although I didn't come home with quite as much plunder as the girls did, I did allow myself one small souvenir of Doj Con. I bought myself a badge. One of the disadvantages of being an old and *cough* wise person is that I cannot see things very well at close range without my reading glasses, so I had to choose this one without being able to see it properly at all! But I think it's rather lovely. 







Thursday, April 4, 2013

Out and about in Perthshire


As I mentioned in my previous post, I am not getting very much actual work done this week because it is the school hols, and in addition to my own two children I am entertaining a young visitor from our former home town of Bad M√ľnstereifel in Germany (where The Vanishing of Katharina Linden is set).   Naturally I don't want any of them to spend the week lying on the sofa (in spite of their best efforts, hem-hem), and I'd like to show our visitor some of the sights of Scotland. It is amazing, however, how quickly the costs of outings can skyrocket to an unmanageable extent, especially if there are four of you in the party. Edinburgh castle, for example, is completely out of the question because it would cost nearly 45 pounds for the four of us just to go in. So the reason for this blog post (which has very little to do with writing) is to say three cheers for those places that still offer a low cost day's entertainment for families.

On Tuesday we went to Huntingtower castle near Perth (pictured above left). This is the third time I have visited the castle and it never fails to entertain the kids. It is not a full-of-Louis-Quatorze-chairs type of castle; in fact there isn't a stick of furniture inside it. This makes it perhaps less interesting to adults but perfect for children because there is nothing to which they can apply their sticky fingers. Nor do they have to trail around listening to a tour guide; they can explore by themselves - though adult supervision is required on the roof because of the terrifying drop (not that I can quite manage "supervision" considering how terrified I am of heights; it tends to be more of a case of the children trying to coax me tremblingly along the battlements). Huntingtower castle has a super legend about a girl called Dorothea who made a death-defying ten foot leap from one tower to the other to avoid being caught in her boyfriend's bedroom. The children absolutely love this story and happily hang over the battlements measuring the gap with their eyes and wondering whether they could do it.

Speaking of legends, I must also say that an interest in local folklore and history really comes in handy when you are amusing a pack of children. A relatively ordinary walk can become far more exciting if you have some really nasty snippets of local legend to relate. Nearby Muthill had a horrible murder case back in the nineteenth century - you can read all about it here: http://www.highlandstrathearn.com/content/hey-gie’s-ma-haun…or-murder-most-foul
The murder came to light when a dog was seen trotting down the street with a human leg in its mouth, complete with stocking and shoe! That tale always goes down a storm with kids.

Leper squints are also popular with my kids (both Fowlis Wester church and Innerpeffray chapel have them); these are small windows that allowed lepers to watch the mass in a church without going inside and mingling with the other worshippers. We have peered through these on several occasions and felt a good deal of indignation imagining the poor lepers having to stand outside in all weathers, for the dubious benefit of seeing (but presumably not hearing) the service. I hope someone gave them a mug of hot soup afterwards but somehow I doubt it.

Finally, an extra special cheer for the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, that still has free entrance (although you are encouraged to make a donation). We mainly went yesterday because we thought our German visitor would like it, and my daughter was inclined to say that she had been there loads of times already, but there is always something new to see, and yesterday was no exception. The Edinburgh Science Festival is on until 7th April so there were loads of interesting stands in the Grand Gallery. Last year the kids' favourite was a tank of freezing cold water into which you were invited to plunge your hand. I forget what it was that that experiment was meant to show, but they immensely enjoyed it anyway. This time the top attraction was the deep sea lander with camera for filming strange aquatic creatures at 6,000 metres (pictured below). Tom the friendly marine biologist infected us all with his boundless enthusiasm for bony deep sea fish - if I were not already a graveyard geek I could imagine becoming a fish nerd!


Possibly our very favourite things in the National Museum of Scotland are the displays of old technology. We never get tired of marvelling at the very first Apple home computer, which was basically a mother board for which you had to build your own casing and use a TV set for the screen! That was in 1976. My son whipped out his iPod and took a photograph of it, with 2013 Apple technology. I was about his age when the Apple One came out so I find it slightly mind-bending to see how far and how fast technology has come on.

We also love Communicate!, the exhibition about the development of communications. In fact, I would say that this is probably my favourite thing in the entire museum. It charts the history of communication technology over the last two hundred years, encompassing the telegraph, the telephone, the telex, mobile phones and the internet. The very first exhibit is this (below):


Back in 1820, this was the fastest method of communication, with a carrier pigeon able to get from Edinburgh to London in a matter of hours. "I think that's hilarious," said my son. I do too - I love the fact that there is a stuffed pigeon in the display case alongside the computers and phones! 

As I said at the beginning, all of this has very little to do with writing, but I wanted to tell you about it anyway. Thank you for listening!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Publication Day at last!

Finally, it is April 4th and Silent Saturday's official UK publication date! I'm thrilled to see the book now available for order online (not just pre-order) and am looking forward to seeing it in real live bookshops too.
I'm not going to be doing anything particularly wild today (though perhaps considering the subject matter, I should be drinking illicit champagne in a deserted mansion to celebrate). I did most of my celebrating at the weekend in Belgium. In fact today feels rather like the civil ceremony day after a huge church wedding at the weekend! I'm definitely back in my everyday clothes. My two children have school holidays at the moment and we have a third child over from our former home town of Bad M√ľnstereifel in Germany, so I shan't even get much work done - I shall be taking them all for a long country walk instead. This evening, however, I shall allow myself a small glass of Peterman bessenjenever!
Publication day means that Silent Saturday can now be reviewed on Amazon, etc. so if you read the book and enjoy it, a short review is always very welcome. If you read it and absolutely hate it, well, er...

Monday, April 1, 2013

Silent Saturday in Belgium!


On Friday I flew back to Belgium for the launch of my upcoming thriller Silent Saturday. The book is actually being published in the UK on Thursday 4th April, but since it is set in Belgium I particularly wanted to be there on Silent Saturday itself, which was 30th March this year. Waterstone's Brussels and Treasure Trove Books in Tervuren were kind enough to indulge this wish, and the Logistics Fairies were also kind enough to make sure that stock of the book was available a few days early especially for the events.

I hadn't actually been back to Belgium for over a year, although I spend nearly every working day in "virtual Flanders", and specifically in Ghent at the moment, as my current work-in-progress, The Demons of Ghent, is set there. I am pretty well settled in my new home in Scotland, but I do miss Belgium a lot, and when we touched down I had to resist the urge to kiss the tarmac like the Pope, which might have raised a few eyebrows!

I must say it was wonderful to be back. I loved living abroad, and the thrill of having my feet on foreign soil just never palls as far as I am concerned. Belgium was the first foreign country I ever visited, when I was just 13 years old, and I still haven't had enough of it. There wasn't time to do much sightseeing because I had a fairly tight schedule, but I did manage to slip away for a bit and pay a visit to this little fellow:


I've seen him probably dozens of times before, but I love to drop by and hear people saying, "Ooh, he's much smaller than I expected" in all sorts of different languages! Someone always does it. I took a German friend to see the Manneken Pis a few years ago and I told her that the tourists always say that. Sure enough, a British couple standing next to us obliged with those very words!

Anyway, to return to the launch events, many thanks to everyone who came to listen to me talking about Silent Saturday and bought signed copies at Waterstone's on Saturday and Treasure Trove on Sunday. If you wanted to come but were unable to, there is a limited number of signed copies available at Waterstone's (Adolphe Maxlaan, near City 2) and Treasure Trove will shortly have more stock of the book with signed bookplates. 

Below are some pics from the event at Waterstone's! 
















 

I've got one final pic I just had to include. When I got back to Zaventem airport on Sunday evening for my flight home (sniff!) I saw this brilliant poster!


As you'll know if you've read my previous blog posts, Silent Saturday (Stille Zaterdag in Flemish) is so called because on that day the church bells do not ring; instead they supposedly fly to Rome to collect Easter eggs from the Pope. This advertisement for Brussels Airport has used the idea to suggest an Easter break by air!