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10 September 2012

Meeting James Herbert...

Ash by James Herbert
James Herbert's New Best Seller
In 1977 (I was 11) my brother came home from a school jumble sale with four books tied together with a piece of string; three books by Enid Bylton (Secret Seven and The Famous Five) and The Rats by James Herbert. I suppose I should have been more interested in the Enid Bylton books but it was THE RATS that jumped out at me. Its cover with that evil looking rodent on the front that looked ready to pounce and cause death and mutilation was just begging me to read.

That book, which I still have, started a life-long love of James Herbert's work. So, when the chance came to not only obtain a copy of his newest book - ASH - but to also meet the man himself and get the book signed I, of course, grabbed the chance with both hands.

I'd never attended a book signing event before and I was expecting a long boring wait in a queue to collect my Pre-ordered book, and then another even longer wait to get it signed. And I envisaged that after hours of waiting I'd get just a few seconds to speak to the great man himself whilst he signed the book and then be moved on so that the next person could get their book signed.

It wasn't like that at all. Although there was a queue to get my pr-ordered copy, it was dealt with quickly and efficiently by the staff at Waterstones - New Street, Birmingham, which was the venue for the event. Once I'd obtained the book it was back outside to join the queue for the actual event: It was here that I had longest wait, but it was quite pleasant; the sun was shining and with my brand spanking new book in hand I, along with virtually everyone else, stood reading James Herbert's newest epic - the hour wait flew by.

Once the doors were opened it was a quick walk through into the room that the event was being held. Row upon row of chairs filled the huge room, and I can tell you that every seat was taken. I was lucky. Being near the front of the queue, meant I also got a great seat, second row from the front.

With everyone settled, It was time to start the evening, and James Herbert was introduced on to stage by author of the "Autumn" and "Hater" horror novels David Moody. Introductions over and our hero walked on stage to great applause. David Moody (lucky man) got to interview our hero who needed little prompting to give his answers. His responses were humorous, interesting and entertaining and held everyone's attention. This was followed by questions from the audience.

Me with the Master of Horror Fiction James Herbert
I wasn't expecting this just-over-an-hour-long interview session, nothing was mentioned when I booked by ticket - it was another surprise. It was wonderful to sit back and enjoy stories and anecdotes from, in my opinion, the Master of Horror writing. I feel privileged to have been one of the lucky few who had been able to obtain a ticket for this - one of only two book signing events that Mr Herbert will be doing to support the release of his latest book.

Once the interview was over it was straight into the book signing, and here again I was amazed and supprised at how much time James Herbert made for each person in that long, long queue. He not only freely chatted to his fans, but actually made conversation too. He really was a true gentleman.

My turn soon came. Mr James Herbert signed my copy of ASH and he also very kindly signed a first edition copy of his 1977 novel FLUKE - a favourite of mine. He asked me if I'd seen the film adaptation of book, and what I thought of it. I have, it's a kind of Disney / family type film, not as good as the book but a good attempt. I mentioned that I too was a writer and have been published (Short stories) several times and he was very encouraging:  "Keep dreaming those idea's up, keep writing, keep getting published... oh, and keep reading my books", he quipped. I also managed to get a photo with James, too.

David Moody on stage with James Herbert
I've always wanted to meet James Herbert and on the 3rd September, 2012  I managed to tick one item of my bucket list.

And finally, I must applaud Waterstones for the brilliant way they handled the event, and what a wonderful bookstore it is too. And, David Moody gets a big pat on the back for his excellent hosting of  the event. It really was a night I shall never forget.

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