Write-ist's cramp

Ever wondered where all those bookshops get their ‘signed by the author’ copies? Well I’m about to find out. HarperCollins has a huge warehouse in Glasgow, where it keeps a lot of its stock, and as soon as the palletloads of Cold Granite start arriving at the start of April, I’m off down to scrawl my name inside a heap of them. A scarily large heap of them. Seriously: terrifying. I’ve been working in IT for years now, I can barely hold a pen anymore, the keyboard is my writing implement – and it rarely ever needs sharpening with a penknife. The thought of spending a whole day (or half day) clutching a leaky biro, writing ‘Stuart did write this’ on the title page of the EU Noir Mountain is a bit daunting.

Of course, it won’t be a leaky biro, I’ll go buy a box of nice gel-ink pens and as my official signature takes about two seconds to scrawl it won’t be too bad (unless I’m supposed to make them legible, which will make it nothing like my signature). And in order to make some of them a bit special I have decided that every now and then I’ll throw in a little picture of the cat. That’s sure to make them collector’s items (ahem). Mind you, given the number of books being bandied about, I don’t think there’ll be time to do a lot of little kitty cats. Thankfully it’s being billed as a team sport – I do the signing, but other people help with the stickering and opening and putting on the signed pile. I’m hoping there will be pizza and beer, though a greasy, cheesy meal you eat with your fingers is probably not the best of ideas when handling brand-new books.

But it should mean that I can shoplift a copy for my own private, dirty little collection. It can sit proudly on my desk next to its attractive Norwegian cousin.