What would YOU do?
I was in Dublin airport recently, and while I waited for my plane, I browsed in the bookshop. After a while, the only other customer, an Austrian tourist, approached and asked me a simple question.
‘Do you happen to know a little about Irish children’s books?’
As an Irish children’s author, this was a no-brainer and I told her I did in fact know ‘a little’ about Irish children’s books. She then asked me to help her to select a book suitable for her grand-daughter.
I had lots of time, and I love choosing books, so this was looking like a good way to spend a few minutes. Then, however, things got a bit more complicated, as the woman had very specific requirements. She wanted - a book suitable for a ten-year-old, set in modern Ireland, with a few pictures, but not too many, it had to be funny and it couldn’t involve vampires or angels or dating or death or dying.
I could think of a number of excellent books that may have suited, but of the selection in front of me, there was only one possible contender – and that’s where the dilemma lay. The only suitable book on the shelf was ‘Alice Next Door’ by……(ahem)……me.
As far as I could see it, these were my options. I could:
1. Offer the woman a book that didn’t really come close to what she was looking for. (Very unhelpful.)
2. Offer her Alice Next Door, and leg it before she opened it and saw the author photo on the inside cover. (Helpful but a bit deceitful.)
3. Offer her Alice Next Door and casually point out that as well as being a very helpful random shopper, I also happened to be the book’s author. (Helpful but potentially embarrassing, maybe triggering Austrian travel-horror stories of Irish book shops populated by pushy self-serving authors.)
So what would you do?