Veronica Henry talks books and bookshops
I am shaking with excitement. I am sitting in Nightingale Books in Peasebrook waiting to meet Veronica Henry.
I’m not even sure how I got there as this is a fictional setting but I’m convinced that Veronica Henry has studied at Hogwarts or something as I magically appeared here this morning and as I look around, I can sense Julius Nightingale from the book right here in the room. He’s the magical bookseller in Veronica’s new book How to Find Love in a Bookshop who leaves behind such a legacy, you’ll never forget him or his legacy when you read it.
And here’s Veronica! Hello! I have been so looking forward to meeting you. Look at the nice spread the Nightingales have put on for us! How lovely. Tea has been served.
You can tell that you really love books and understand bookworms. Why did you want to write this novel?
I always want to set my books in places I would like to be, and one day I realised the place I am happiest and feel most myself is in a bookshop. It was a lightbulb moment – the shop just appeared in my mind, and the story came from it. I’ve worked in bookshops, too, so it was easy to write in a way.
Lovely Julius! I cried at one point. Who did you like to write about the most? Are you like one of the characters yourself?
Oh I know. Julius is kind and wonderful – almost perfect, if that’s possible! I quite liked writing Bea, as she is going through a phase when she doesn’t know who she is: something which I think we can all relate to. And I was very fond of dear Thomasina. Shyness is such an ordeal, and I wanted to show someone overcome that.
Have you ever lost track of time in a bookshop? what’s your biggest book haul?
I used to spend a lot of time in Hay on Wye – a town of bookshops! I definitely lost entire days wandering round, interspersed with cake and coffee. I buy a lot of books for research (that’s my excuse!) – I’m currently reading the autobiography of Elizabeth Jane Howard and a book on architecture called The Perfect House.
Bookshops are disappearing sadly from our landscape. Do you think there should be more Nightingale books?
I think people are turning back to real books. They probably keep a e-reader for holidays or travel. but the pleasure of a proper book is second to none for a lot of readers. When I give talks, I ask the audience which they prefer. The vote is heavily in favour of the book these days. Hurrah!! And as a result of this, I think bookshops are having a renaissance, and are becoming really exciting places to hang out, with cafes and even cocktail bars!
Love your title! What is the best advice that you have got from a bookshop or a book?
Well, it’s a quote from the director John Waters, which in essence says if you go home with someone and they don’t have books in their house, don’t sleep with them ….
Best Advice from a literary character?
I don’t know about advice, but Holden Caulfield introduced me to rum daiquiris!
At a dinner party of literary characters, who would you ask and why?
Rebecca, Emma Bovary, Ana Karenina, Rupert Campbell Black, Seth Starkadder, and Boris from The Goldfinch – all those egos and libidos at one table. It would be mayhem, but they should be well-matched.
Thank you so much Veronica for chatting to me today. Can I come and work in Nightingale books please and live in Peasebrook? I don’t want to leave! It’s also been so lovely meeting you today and chatting books. If you ever have that literary dinner party then can I come too? I’d bring Julius Nightingale and a few other characters from HTFLIAB – perfect for calming your lot down if it gets a bit rowdy!
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