Macclesfield, dangling like a glittering jewel beneath the giant ear of Manchester. Had a very good time there last night, reading from the new book, TENDER. (Have I mentioned TENDER already?) Steve and I drove there, taking a bizarre route suggested by TomTom, nearly running out of petrol, unable to phone ahead because of no credit on the mobile. We felt vaguely like itinerant comedians, crossing the country from gig to gig, staying in dodgy B&B’s, spending the day working on new material, then back in front of the audience every evening. But we’re not comedians on a relentless, soul-sapping tour, we’re writers, on an outing.
We were warmly welcomed, in spite of being late, (TomTom, petrol, phone), by Jane, Jane and Lesley, and shown into a room at Ronnie’s Bar full of sofas and comfy chairs. I read from TENDER (it’s my new book, did I say?) and Steve (May) read from his excellent first novel Tag, published by Cinnamon Press, and then Ronnie provided some food, and we answered questions and chatted until (quite) late. We talked about favourite writers, and I mentioned Doctorow, Roth and Cormac McCarthy, and someone else said ‘What, no women?’ So I quickly added Atwood (mainly for The Handmaid’s Tale and Cat’s Eye), Winterson (mainly for The Passion) and Alice Munro (mainly because she’s the best living short story writer.)
When you’re sat most of the time in front of your computer, telling stories to your screen, it’s good, and healthy, to get out sometimes and meet readers, or other writers, or just, you know, humans. Especially if they’re warm and friendly, buy you a pint and give you food. A good evening. I’d rather be a writer than a comedian.