New/Old Bookshop


The nice thing about living in the same area for a long time is that you get comfortable with the shops. I was living in Elsternwick, many years ago, when a new bookshop opened. It was a cheery place with the cheery name of Sunflower Bookshop. The owners were a lovely couple called Brian and Noreen Ormsby.

They got me interested in certain writers, such as Tanith Lee, whose first novel, Birthgrave, was on their shelves – I ended up buying about twenty of her books over the years. After a time, they moved a couple of shops down to the road to bigger premises. They would put aside books for you, which led to an embarrassing moment when I went into their storage area to pick up a book I’d ordered and found one put aside for my younger brother, Maurice, who had forgotten all about it. Of course, I bought it then and there, but they had been too nice to ask me about it.

Eventually, they moved on and the shop was bought by a lady and her daughter, who ran it for many years. Ruth, the daughter, was the shop’s children’s book specialist and when I went in one day to buy books for my library, it was she who took me to the shelves.

“Have you seen this?” she asked, pointing to one of my books.

I grinned and said, “Actually, I wrote it.”

She was surprised, but pleased, and told me that she sold a lot of copies of my women scientists book, Potions To Pulsars, for bat mitzvahs. After that, Ruth promoted all my books to buyers, which was very nice!


The next owner employed a children’s specialist, Michelle Prawer, who has been involved with the Children’s Book Council, and she did a very good job, but left to go back to library work. Michelle told me she had tried to contact my publishers just after Wolfborn came out so they could do a launch, but the place was closed for the Christmas holidays. I told her it would have been better to contact me, but it was too late by then.

Not long ago, Sunflower was sold again and taken over by Avenue Bookshop. I only went in for the first time today, since the place was renovated, and was pleased to see that there was a large children’s an YA section, an entire wall, in fact, taking up about half that side of the shop.


Time to rediscover my local bookshop!


2 responses »

  1. It’s great that the new store has such a dedication to YA/children’s books. And great that that category is obviously still an asset to booksellers.

    I saw 2 copies of your crime time book on Friday night at the local library truck. The bookie (our name for the truck driver slash librarian) said its quite popular in our neck of the woods, hence the 2 copies. Didn’t hire it as our kids are a bit young, but thought you’d like to hear all that!

    Incidentally, I first heard of you on the radio launching Wolfborn – which I plan on purchasing for my wife for Xmas – and you mentioned (I think??) you were possibly working on a steam punk novel? If my memory is right, how is that going? I (amateurishly) edit a steam punk newsletter on, and maybe we could hook up for a profile/interview? If my memory is wrong and you’re not working on a steam punk novel – maybe you should, haha!

    • Hi Mike! Welcome to my blog.
      Thanks so much for letting me know this. I do think you may have mixed me up with someone else re steampunk writing. I love steampunk, but I’m not writing any at the moment, I have just hauled out an unfinished story set in Greek mythology and am 60,000 words into a prequel to Wolfborn. Maybe I will, on your suggestion. 😉 I think someone in New Zealand is asking for steampunk stories for an anthology, must check it out. I love all kinds of alternative universe and steampunk is the kind that actually has some SF elements in it.

      I assume you meant my interview on 3RRR with Robert Jan? That was a while ago, so nice that you recall it. You may have to order in a copy now; bookshops tend not to keep getting books in for more than a few months these days. On the other hand, if you live somewhere with bookmobiles as your library, you might have to order it anyway. If you get in touch with me by email when you’re ordering the book for your wife I will post you a signed bookplate for her.

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