On November 19, we will again have a booth at the Cathedral Winter Market. It's always a lovely start to the upcoming festive season.
Craftspeople and artisans bring their handcrafted products, and we always find exciting things to look at and buy. For us, it's a chance to meet new readers, sign books, and send people home with what we feel are terrific gifts.
So with that in mind, we thought we'd share a few stories about books as gifts.
I have three stories to share about the gift of stories.
The first happened when my younger cousin sent me a photo of a bunch of children's books on her floor. At first, I didn't understand until she reminded me I'd purchased them for her when she was a little girl. She'd cherished them enough to hold onto them when she moved out of her parent's house and into her own. And although I'd forgotten about giving them to her, it seems that even back then, books were important enough to me to give them to a person I loved.
The second story of giving is when David and I released the original version of Along Comes a Wolfe. We were touched that many people came to support us and purchase them, but we were surprised to discover that many were buying them also as gifts for friends and family. It was a first for us and pretty special.
Finally, I'll end with something that happened recently. David had sent me a picture of Shepherd's Call at Indigo Regina. It was on a table at the front door celebrating Canadian authors—a swell place to be. I was tickled. I don't know if it will ever get old to see our books in stores where people can purchase them for themselves or as a gift to someone else.
Many years ago, when there was a thriving film industry in Saskatchewan, I worked on a show where my official job title was office production assistant. However, my actual role was to be the personal assistant to the actress Miranda Richardson.
For those that don't recognize her name, she is a two-time Oscar-nominated actress and won two Golden Globes and a BAFTA. She's been in The Crying Game, Sleepy Hollow, and The Hours, and most people know her as Rita Skeeter from the Harry Potter films.
For several weeks during the late fall and early winter, I would drive her to set, pick up her food or special items, and take her wherever she wanted. Some memorable moments were:
- Trying to find her soy milk in the city of Moose Jaw at 6 am on a Sunday (definitely a challenge back then).
- Searching for alpaca farms.
- Telling her bad Dad jokes. (What do you call cheese that isn't yours? Nacho cheese.)
- Worrying about how I'd ship an antique sleigh back to England that she seemed interested in (thankfully, she didn't buy it in the end).
I spent a lot of time in the car with her, but we didn't talk much. She was a private person, and I tried to respect that. However, she'd occasionally talk about people she'd worked with, like David Cronenberg (she'd just completed Spider) or Neil Jordan, who directed her in The Crying Game.
We also talked about writing and fiction and discovered we shared an interest in the writer M.R. James. He is well known for his spooky ghost stories that he'd read to his friends at Christmas. Many of them are considered the best in the genre. I hadn't read many of his stories because I could never find a good collection (this was before the prevalence of Amazon and ebooks).
Eventually, the production wrapped, and she returned home. She gave me a coffee cup (which I still have) filled with chocolate coffee beans as a gift and some fun stories to tell years afterward.
So why did I share this story? Because several months later, I received a small package with no return address in the mail. I opened it up to find a hard-cover edition of M.R. James' short stories, with a note inside:
I treasure it still.