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    On Monday 21st February I got see my favourite author of the past 5 years, Jasper Fforde, signing his latest book, One of Our Thursdays is Missing.

    This was a first for me so I didn't know what to expect.

    A queue full of avid fans supporting stacks of back issues patiently waiting in line with me at the back in the hope that Jasper didn't give up from wrist strain or time deficiency, was the image I had in my mind.

    blog image To my surprise, there was an hour or so of Jasper talking about this book and all the others, how he got into writing and any topical tangent he could think of before returning back to the main points he was trying to make, sometimes relying on the audience to prompt him back to where he was supposed to be talking about. To be honest, most of us were with him and not where we were before the tangent.

    Despite having to stand in the far corner I learnt a lot about a man I didn't really know anything about. Being a fan you would have thought I would know something about him. Sadly all I did know was that he has a fantastic car and writes great books that I love. On the other hand Jasper doesn't read much either despite being an author, which is something you expect an author to do. His excuse for not reading as much as he liked, or at all, was because he has to write all the time. 2 books a year he manages.

    Of course there was a book signing after the talk and I had taken along my copy of The Eyre Affair[1] and of course the latest book. I also got my reading visa (below) which I thought was a nice touch. I think I like that better than the signature.

    I also managed to get some of our bookmarks signed.[2] blog image

    So, what did I learn? In no particular order:

    How he doesn't plan books[3] Having tried a few times in the past to plan and getting it wrong Jasper prefers to pose silly questions to himself and tries to answer them in his books or to create books. For example, with The Eyre Affair the question was something like "What if someone plucked Jane Eyre out of fiction? How could I do that?"

    Goblins in short supply As with any Creative, writing ideas down when you have them helps you keep hold of those little gems of inspiration. Jasper likes to write on the family shopping chalk board occasionally. One day his wife came back home from shopping and announced "The supermarket had ran out of Goblins". It's nice to know ones family supports the creative genius through his madness. As a result of this, there is a bit of Goblin humour in the latest book which goes to show scribbles pay off.

    Audio book versions are so much fun Jasper likes to play with words in his books especially with the knowledge that one of his books will be converted into audio. One good example is the name of Thursday Next's nemesis, Jack Schitt. No explanation needed there. But my favourite is the one where a character repeats himself repeating himself to someone else. When spoken in the audio version it sounds like there is a mistake in the recording. Genius.

    blog image I now feel even more inspired to read all the other Jasper Fforde books that are not Thursday Next related. I was worried they wouldn't be as good but having heard the man speak I am destined to read them.[4] If you want to know more you should visit Jasper Fforde's website. His old style HTML site is all he knows. Having learnt HTML back in 2001 (the days of tables), Jasper hasn't needed to look forward since.


    • [1]The first Jasper Fforde book I bought after a recommendation from a friend back in 2004 I think. Thanks Dan.
    • [2] The bookmark set that is signed across, is my set. It was something I thought of asking before going but Jasper suggested it so of course I had to oblige.
    • [3]One of Our Thursdays is Missing is the plan for a book we are never going to read because before he had chance to finish the plan it was already published. Well I think it's a good plan anyway. Shame we shall never get to read the real book.
    • [4]And of course, when I get a full collection of titles from the same publisher with the same set of covers, I shall indeed be the one in the queue supporting a stack of my own back issues.

    ps Watch this space for a giveaway. As long as the weekend doesn't go missing we'll have some questions on monday to win some stuff...

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