I lived in Connecticut over thirty years ago. I have lots of good associations with the State, but it actually has seemed very far away over the past years. I associate Connecticut with leafy suburbs and sensible lifestyles – a far cry from the ultra-urban life I’ve been living. But it was wonderful spending two days there, looking at the autumn foliage along the highway (when I wasn’t driving through incredible rains), and catching up with friends, new and old.

A Clash of Innocents in the window
of Bank Square Books

My first stop was a marvellous independent bookstore in Mystic called Bank Square Books. This is a large, well-stocked bookstore, just like the good old days. The fact that it isn’t squeezed between buildings in a big city means it has space for shelves full of interesting and unusual finds, and parking. They are known for their author series and I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to appear there. But alas, the weather gods were against me. My talk came in the middle of flooding rains and ominous skies so no one was in the shop at all, except the staff. As I drove up from New York, I had imagined that this would be the case. But despite that, actually, it was still great. I talked and read to the staff who loved the work — even the poetry collection. And they then went on to buy six copies of A Clash of Innocents and set it up as one of their Staff Picks.  They also bought two copies of Her Life Collected, and these were all really purchased, not just taken on consignment. This is a bookshop that promotes independent publishers and I know they are interested in all the authors published by Ward Wood, so despite my lack of audience, I still have to believe that this was an event worth doing.

That evening I stayed overnight with an old friend from college days. His wife is the journalist and writer Abby Sullivan Moore, who writes non-fiction about parenting issues, and specifically the role of technology in the lives of University students and their parents. Fascinating stuff, not only because of the content of her work and interests, but also because although our work is very different, our experiences as jobbing writers are very similar — setting up gigs, self-promoting, pounding the pavement …. it’s all the same these days no matter what you write or who publishes you.  It was a real treat getting to spend some time with them.

And then in the morning I addressed a class of teenagers at a private school which has a separate arts certificate that the kids can earn alongside their usual college prep diploma. These kids are creating their own art, whether it’s in writing or painting or music or dance, and they’re thinking about the role of art in their society. The school also has an annual service trip to Cambodia and so my own work fit it very well with their interests. I ran a “Master Class” for them where I read from the novel and also talked about the life of a writer as I am finding it. Plus I spoke a bit about the topic which is becoming more and more important to me and my work, namely using art for social change. I do love talking to kids so this was a real treat for me.

And now the working part of this trip is over. I’m in the airport waiting for my flight to Washington DC where I’ll be going to a wedding. Then it’s back to London on Monday, back to writing and of course more events. Look out for Sunday’s blog all about the first one of these — me at the Cambridge Festival of Ideas.