I'VE had a strange week. I've been on a book tour. I know that sounds exciting, but it really isn't.
IT IS scary to go out and meet people after being a recluse for most of the year with my head down writing. But I decided to do a little tour this year to celebrate the publication of my new book.
I did one two years ago with Rosanna Davison when our children's book was out, but this year I was on my own.
No Thelma and Louise-style venture. Just me going into shops and saying, "Hi, I'm Marisa Mackle".
More often than not I'm met with a blank face.
But then, when I explain, the shop staff are usually very nice and accommodating and some even offer me a chair and a glass of water.
I usually accept the water but decline the offer of the chair. This is because I was doing a signing in a shop a few years ago and an elderly lady admonished me for taking up the one seat in the room. Even when I explained what I was doing she wouldn't back down and went on to say that all chick lit was "filth".
The problem with book signings is that people come up to you and say the oddest things. I'll never forget that man in a west of Ireland bookshop who tried to pick a fight by asking me if I thought I was Maeve Binchy. I told him that I didn't think I was anyone but me, but he still went on to say that writing was a waste of time and that fiction was all made-up lies anyway.
I am mistaken a lot in bookshops for being a member of staff. Just the other day I was signing in an Eason store and somebody asked me whether I sold Post-it stickers.
I said I didn't and she asked me what I had in my hand.
"They are 'signed-by-the-author' stickers!" I explained.
"So, no Post-its?"
Another lady asked me if I sold brown sticky tape. I seemed to spend the week apologising that I didn't know where anything was.
You can't be the shy retiring type if you embark on a book tour. At one shopping centre they actually put a table and chair in the middle of the foyer, and as I was sitting there I heard a loud announcement on the shopping centre intercom that I was in the vicinity, willing to sign books. I actually wanted the floor to open up.
Then, on my last day of signings, a woman with a kind, friendly face approached me with a small child. "My niece is seven," the lady said. "And she's here to get her book signed."
I looked at them both in mild alarm. "But it's not a children's book," I insisted. "It's a book about a pregnant woman."
The little girl looked a little disappointed.
"She liked the cute cover with the baby on it," the aunt explained. I took down her address, promising that I would post her on one of my children's books. With that I wrapped up my tour.
Thank goodness it's all over for another year!
Marisa is the author of Along Came A Stork