EDitorial ± 25-Jan-2010

Jasper Fforde, Norwich

Tuesday and we're taking the 5:08pm loco to Norwich, having run away from home before the babysitter (hello Mum) turned up. Fingers crossed she made it. Will call later once we're there. It'll be fine.

There's a good turn out in the "teenage issues" corner of the impressive Minnellium Library. Smacking of the premier meet-up for the Norfolk women's creative writing group, we're in fact here to see a scribe, a penpusher, a novellist, none other than Jasper Fforde. Who? That bloke who writes those books about Thursday Next -- no, that's her name -- who ends up ... er, never mind. As The Strokes pointed out and Mr Fforde agrees, it's hard to explain. There might be dodos, mammoths, airships, you name it.

On he comes, instantly recognisable to us from when we saw him last way back in Ip-Art 2006. Sounds like Hugh Grant and looks like that poshy-washy officer from It Ain't Half Hot, Mum. Poor ffella was on a multi-city tour of the US (DC, Atlanta, Coral Gables, Albuquerque, Capitola, etc) until three days ago. Now he's on a less glam multi-town tour of the UK (Lincoln, Sheffield, Cardiff, etc). If it's Friday, this must be Edinburgh. Or Dundee.

Promoting your latest book -- Shades Of Grey -- day in, day out, can't be a ffiesta of ffun, but JF is good value. He mentions that people in the new work are afraid of lightning and swans, and that works of art are freely distributed throughout the land in parks and private houses, and that every animal has a barcode though nobody knows why. He's often cited alongside Douglas Adams, and that's high praise.

He gamely ffields any number of questions -- no, he hasn't met his former headmaster but his mother has -- then metaphorically cracks his knuckles before announcing that he'll happily sign anything. An hour later, from our tasty vantage point in Pizza Express, he's still cranking out the signature.