Sunday, 4 November 2007

Alexander McCall Smith

Three weeks ago I went to a "Meet the Author" held nearby. The author in question was Alexander McCall Smith, author of The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series amongst others.

I was delighted to be going, thoroughly enjoyed the talk, and took a number of photos on my phone. I have spent the best part of the three weeks trying to get them off. And before anyone cracks any jokes about IT, technical support or any other such things, it took the combined efforts of all the staff in the shop I took it into to sort it out.

I shouldn't have bothered. The photos are nearly useless. How's this for a triumph of modern technology?

This is what he really looks like, scanned from a magazine.

He is a very fluent speaker as you might expect from a Professor of Medical Law, a very jolly person, and a prolific writer. He started off as a children's author, then in 1998 wrote The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, published by the same publisher, Polygon, as the academic texts he has written. It sold slowly, but at one point, a number of copies were included with a shipment of text books to the USA. These copies were "hand sold" by booksellers and quickly became very popular. It wasn't until after this initial success in the US that his books became popular in the UK.

He has four different series of books on the go, and can tell which time of year it is according to which one he is writing. If that weren't enough, he writes the 44 Scotland Street series as a daily serial in The Scotsman, trying to keep well ahead with the episodes but often finding that by the end he has barely more than a couple of instalments in hand. Apparently he often offers to include people he meets in the series.

I felt I really had to buy a copy of his latest in The Sunday Philosophy Club Series, and duly had it signed.

Finally I was presented with a "goody bag" with, amongst other things, a packet of Redbush tea and a book, Blood in the Water, by Gillian Galbraith.

I gather the book is a detective novel set in Edinburgh, so I'll give it to my husband to test run.


  1. Love Alexander NcCall Smith (why can't he be just plain A. M. Smith (much easier to type?) Do let me know about the dective story, that is a new author to me. Still haven't finished the current book when I shall move on to the Fred Vargas one (in fear and trembling!

  2. You've never said - did you get a chance to read any of the Sunday Philosophy club books?

  3. And I think the covers for the US editions of the series are much nicer than the UK covers.

  4. ElaineI will of course let you know what it's like. Since you mention fear and trembling, there's a book by Amélie Nothomb by that name, in French: Stupeur et tremblements, which you may enjoy....

    janeway, I have The Careful Use of Compliments sitting here waiting but I really think I'd like to start at the beginning of the series. In the meantime I'm reading The Sparrow which is wonderful.

    I quite agree about the book covers. Well, I've never seen the US ones but the one I have is singularly unattractive.

  5. That last one sounds interesting, maybe just because it's in Edinburgh... *giggles*

  6. Everything from Edinburgh is interesting according to my husband. Guess where he was born?


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