I have always dreamed of having my book in a book shop window. When I first moved to London in the 1990's and started my writing journey this was something I'd daydream about. When my debut novel was published I got excited that I would be given the opportunity to visit bookshops and for the first time in my career ask for my debut novel and for it to be not just in stock, not just recognisable, but out front on tables and in the actual bookshop windows. I can never express how huge a deal this is to me and will always be to me. I owe a huge debt and have immense gratitude to the booksellers and have loved meeting these brilliant and passionate book people since publication. The hardback of Mrs Death Misses Death was published during the lockdown of January 2021. Although we were not permitted to go out and tour, the support of bookshops was immense online. I was so surprised by the warm response and honoured, I have saved these posts and stories on my Instagram highlights – feel free to take a look and make sure you follow all of these bookshops and book bloggers. As my book was published I felt like I was throwing a marble down a black bowling alley, but indie bookshops shone on a light on my rolling marble, my one debut book, in all that uncertainty and darkness.

Salena Godden, Mrs Death Misses Death

Salena Godden, Mrs Death Misses Death

I live in East London. I am lucky it is an area rich with excellent independent bookshops. I owe so much gratitude to Vivian at Newham Bookshop. During lockdown Vivian came to my house personally and delivered boxes of books for me to sign. I have memories of us distance-chatting on the doorstep, me in my socks and pyjamas and both of us in masks. Newham Bookshop are a beacon in this area, and like so many East London authors, I will always be grateful for their hard work. Eventually when we were allowed to start planning events more and things were opening up, I went on book visits around my area to meet and thank people and sign books and was welcomed so warmly by Stoke Newington Bookshop, Brick Lane, Liberia, Pages of Hackney, Ink 84. Rough Trade on Brick Lane gave me a slot to do a live show and reading with my friend the writer Nikita Gill. I also did a paperback event at Libreria with Cunning Folk Magazine which was a beautiful night too.

As the paperback was published I also made sure to take my book home to Hastings. Printed Matter organised a book event for me down there at St Mary's in the Castle with local author Gareth Rees and I'm so grateful to Lee for all of his continued support. It's a big deal for me. I do not take it for granted. Thanks also go to Afrori in Brighton and Margate Bookie too. I'm a seaside girl and so these particular indie bookshop friendships mean the world to me. I have always loved touring and performing, sharing my work live and meeting people. Recently I was performing in Yorkshire and I visited Truman Books in Farsley. My writing has always been about that connection more than anything else. Bookshops - and libraries - are where the people I want to reach and meet are.

Last summer I was invited to Edinburgh International Book Festival and there I was excited to visit so many amazing Edinburgh bookshops: Typewronger, Toppings, Porty Books, Rare Birds, Golden Hare, The Edinburgh Bookshop and Lighthouse Books. I felt so welcome and was happy to visit all of these shops and chat and meet all of these wonderful booksellers.

I could list amazing bookshops all day. One forever favourite is Shakespeare and Co. Paris, I truly believe it is a magic bookshop so I made sure to mention it in Mrs Death Misses Death. I have loved performing there in Paris and during lockdown was delighted to be asked to be part of their podcast series with Jenni Fagan. I feel I have friends that are bookshops, booksellers, book lovers,  that I talk to regularly online. Bookshops are more than just a “shop” to me, it's about community and a shared love of books. It would be very hard for me to write a piece on just one bookshop. It would be tricky for me to pick one bookshop above all others. Bookshop people are my kind of people. For every gig I do and as I travel and have my touring adventures, I will always visit a neighbourhood indie book shop and talk to book people about books, and that's the good stuff, and this is a dream come true for me.

Salena Godden is the author of Mrs Death Misses Death (Canongate), which is shortlisted in the Indie Book Awards, the annual awards part of Independent Bookshop Week (18-25 June).