Author Nicola Slade on moving into ebooks

9780719810381Nicola Slade had her first short stories published in her early twenties and wrote for children and for women’s magazines for a number of years. As well as writing, Nicola has been a Brown Owl and an antiques dealer. She currently lives in Hampshire with her husband; her three grown-up children live nearby.

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I’ve always loved books – hardback, paperback, you name it; the floor to ceiling shelves in my house are groaning with books I can’t possibly get rid of.

I didn’t actually learn to read until I was almost six years old – my primary school had only one intake, the September after my Christmas birthday, and parents were forbidden to teach their offspring to read! I soon made up for it and within a term I was promoted to the year above. It was then that I started buying books and at a jumble sale when I was six I bought a girls’ school story, The Abbey Girls, by Elsie Oxenham – it cost a penny which was a lot of money to a six year old! By the time I was seven I was receiving further books in the Abbey series for birthday and Christmas, and as school prizes – my school was enlightened. We just went to the local bookshop, chose what we wanted and it turned up on Prize Day, with no attempt to ‘improve’ our choices.

These days I do sometimes buy new books, particularly paperbacks, but second-hand bookshops are my spiritual home. Sadly these are disappearing in droves so I rely on charity shops to feed my addiction and a laden bag is greeted with: ‘Oh look, just what this house needs, more books!’ (This from a man incapable of ignoring a gadget, tool or piece of equipment!)

However, when we were planning a trip to Australia last year I realised my normal holiday routine wasn’t going to work. I usually trawl round the charity shops for paperbacks and discard them along the route as we travel. Some enlightened hotels have shelves full of books for the guest suffering withdrawal symptoms and I’m always delighted to browse amongst their offerings. I also sneak copies of my own books on to such shelves occasionally. It soon became clear that I couldn’t possibly carry enough books to cover a five week trip to Australia. I doubted I’d be able to carry enough books to while away the flights, let alone the rest of the time, so drastic action was needed, particularly as word had got out that books in Australia are incredibly pricey.

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Luckily, an e-reader turned out to be the solution. My normal attitude to technology is to let a new gadget lie for some time after I’ve bought it. I like to keep an eye on it, sometimes sneaking a sidelong glance in case it’s showing signs of activity or alien life forms. There’s also the possibility that it might blow up – you can’t be too careful. My Kindle arrived for Christmas and we were due to set off at the end of January; this gave me time to circle it warily and admit it seemed harmless.

It was a revelation and a new addiction! The only annoying thing is the way it runs out of battery when I’m in the middle of something good, but I’m gradually remembering to juice it up on a regular basis. It’s been to Australia and back, had a trip to France, holiday in the States, train journeys, lots of places now, as well as tucking handily into my bag when I suspect I might need distraction. I wouldn’t be without it now I’ve discovered the thrill of finding out-of-print books (usually free), but with new books I do have to check myself now and then, when I realise I’ve bought a whole series!

I am delighted to say that Charlotte Richmond’s third adventure, The Dead Queen’s Garden, will be published in hardcover in December 2013 by Robert Hale Ltd. Besides this, my contemporary mysteries, featuring feisty former headmistress, Harriet Quigley, will be available as ebooks on 30th July 2013.

Murder Fortissimo and A Crowded Coffin are available to pre-order as ebooks now and available from all good ebook retailers.

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