Monday, 26 May 2014

Mr. Hallett

If you follow me along any of my various internet pathways, you'll know that last Friday (23rd May) I had a launch event for Blackfin Sky at Prestatyn Library. This post is a little bit about that, but actually the story began almost 20 years ago.

I grew up in a North Wales town called Prestatyn. When I was old enough to walk from my house into town by myself, I used to go and spend my hard-earned (or not earned at all, actually) pocket money in my local bookshop, Books Unlimited, owned by one Mr. Hallett.

It was a little shop crammed floor-to-ceiling with books, not built to be a shop at all, but actually a converted house, with little rooms on different levels sectioning the books by category. Naturally, I always made a beeline for the children's and teens' section, up the steps at the back of the shop.

This was a ritual of mine: every Saturday I went in and bought a book, and if I was reading a series, I'd order the next book in the series so it would be waiting for me the following Saturday. Then Mr. Hallett would wrap the book in a paper bag -- the same kind the lady at the sweetshop used to wrap the sweets in -- and I'd take my book home to read. And I wouldn't lift my head from the book until I'd finished reading, which was generally by tea time.

The routine went on for a few years, and though Mr. Hallett and I didn't really chat, he would occasionally recommend books for me to read. I think he could tell when I'd finished a series, and I had that lost, slightly forlorn look I know I still wear when I've had to part with beloved characters.

As I got older, I started to work on weekends (for beer money), so stopped going into Books Unlimited. The shop finally closed when Mr. Hallett retired sometime during my late teens, and I didn't see him again... until last Friday.

I have no idea whether Mr. Hallett recognised me from the flyer advertising Blackfin Sky's launch, or if it was purely an interest in books which brought him there, but when I looked up and saw him waiting to have his copy of my book signed, I felt like something had come full circle. I told him all this, about how I used to buy books from him every Saturday and how he and his shop played a huge part in developing my early love of reading. I don't know whether he remembered me or not, as I was talking far too much for him to get a word in edgewise.

Finally, I asked if I could double-check the spelling of 'Hallett' before I wrote my message in the front of his copy. He smiled, and said, "Please make it out to Victor."

So I did. I thanked him for encouraging my early love of books, and said that I hoped he would enjoy reading Blackfin Sky. Because without the inspiration I drew from the books he sold me all those years ago, I probably wouldn't have written it.

I'm still not sure I've spelled 'Hallett' correctly, so if not, I hope I am forgiven.

Kat out x


  1. What a fantastic story. I'm sure it was some sort of divine affirmation that Mr Hallett (sp?) was there. Like the universe is trying to tell you that you've got it right, baby! Congratulations on the book. I'll definitely be giving it a read.

  2. Look! It's me! (Grinning widely :D)
    It was an amazing event. I wish I saw which one was Mr. Hallett!