Q&A with Melissa at Literary Book Gifts

I have something a little different on What Cathy Read Next today as my guest is Melissa, owner of online shop Literary Book Gifts.

As regular followers of my blog will know, I mainly feature book reviews with the occasional author interview, guest post or book extract; I generally don’t do any type of promotional feature.  However, when Melissa contacted me and I looked at some of the products on the Literary Book Gifts website, I was delighted to make an exception.  After all, second only to actual books, us bookworms love anything book-related, don’t we?

Please note: I have no commercial relationship with Literary Book Gifts and received no payment or products in exchange for this feature on my blog.  Any queries about products or shipping should be directed to Literary Book Gifts.

Melissa Literary Book GiftsWelcome, Melissa!  Can you please tell us a bit about yourself, about Literary Book Gifts and why you decided to start up the business?

My name is Melissa, and I am from the beautiful city of Toronto, Ontario. I have always harboured a deep love for literature and stories.

I’ve never really been able to find clothing that suited my personal style. At face value this always seemed rather unimportant. But over the years I came to realize that self expression is a key part of the human experience, in the very same way that tastes for specific novels between individuals differ. So I combined my love of reading with my background in design to create Literary Book Gifts.

What is the typical process from initial design idea to finished product?

It really differs for each product. Sometimes very old book covers are available that I think already look great for a shirt design. In this case I process them into graphics that will print properly. Depending on the condition of the book cover, this process of remastering and editing can take anywhere from an afternoon of retouching to many days.

In most cases, the book covers available do not fit very well with what I have in mind for the collection. In this case I scour unrelated very old books and their illustrations for images. This process is hit and miss and sometimes I pass on the title altogether until I can find what I am looking for. If I do find something I think is suitable I match it with typography and go through the same reprocessing to get it top notch and ready for the shirts and totes.

What legal restrictions, if any, are there over the images you can use on your products?

Yes, the images and titles themselves must be free to use. This really limits what is available as well as where I find them.

What has been the most challenging thing about setting up Literary Book Gifts?

Definitely the website, I am not very computer savvy so it was a big step for me to launch it as its own site. I’m learning a lot about websites every day; it’s challenging but quite interesting.

….and the most rewarding?

The most rewarding has definitely been some of the feedback I have heard. Right now it is only early stages but it amazes how a simple design can make someone so happy.

What’s the best-selling product from the Literary Book Gifts range?

Definitely the Jane Austen items, with the most popular being the Pride and Prejudice T-Shirt. The Jane Austen Tote Bag is also very popular.



What’s the best piece of customer feedback you’ve received?

That they love the shirt or bag!

If a friend was browsing Literary Book Gifts for a gift for you, what item would you hope they’d  choose?

I would hope they choose the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland T-Shirt and J. M. Barrie Peter Pan Tote Bag for me!


If we were to peek inside your own tote bag (and now we know it would be a Peter Pan one!), what personal favourite books or authors might we find?

I love Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger! And I am also a super fan of the Harry Potter series. One would also find a pair of headphones in my tote because the audio book versions of Harry Potter are some of my all time favourites.

What plans do you have for Literary Book Gifts in the next twelve months? For example, do you intend to add further products to your range?

This is a tough question! I really don’t know what the future will hold. There are a few more designs I’d love to add when I get a chance. In the far future I’d love for the designs to be available in scarves because I just know how cozy they feel!

If Melissa’s answers to my questions and the product examples above have tempted you to purchase, I’m delighted to say Melissa is offering an exclusive promotional discount.  Just enter the code WHATCATHYREADNEXT20 to receive 20% off anything in the store.  There’s no minimum spend or expiry date.

Happy shopping at Literary Book Gifts!

Blog Tour/Q&A: The Girl on the Doorstep by Lindsey Hutchinson

The Girl on the Doorstep Blog tour poster

I’m thrilled to be hosting today’s stop on the blog tour for The Girl on the Doorstep by Lindsey Hutchinson – many thanks to Victoria at Head of Zeus for inviting me to take part in the tour.  I’d have loved to find time to read and review Lindsey’s book but unfortunately my reading schedule didn’t permit it.  However, I’m delighted to bring you a Q&A with Lindsey in which, amongst other things, she reveals how a Christmas present provided the inspiration for the book and the essential tools of her craft.

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The Girl on the DoorstepAbout the Book

Left an orphan, five-year-old Rosie Harris is found and raised by Maria, a Romany gypsy. Life on the road is hard, but the little girl soon feels one of the tribe with the travellers.

As she grows older, Rosie realises she has ‘second sight’ and is able to read people’s palms and see into their futures. Needing to make a living of her own, she befriends the canal folk, known as the ‘cut-rats’ traversing the Black Country waterways with their cargo, and so offers readings to anyone who can pay.

Pursued by Jake Harding, a Romany bandolier who wants her for his wife, Rosie instead finds herself falling in love with a married man. And despite growing ominous signs that her future may be cursed, Rosie can’t quite break away from the dream of a happily ever after…

Lindsey Hutchinson is a master storyteller, and her Black Country sagas are heart-breaking, uplifting and truly addictive.

Format: Paperback, ebook (494 pp.)    Publisher: Aria
Published: 7th August 2018            Genre: Historical Fiction

Purchase Links*
Amazon.co.uk  ǀ  Amazon.com
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find The Girl on the Doorstep on Goodreads

Interview: Lindsey Hutchinson, author of The Girl on the Doorstep

Welcome to What Cathy Read Next, Lindsey.  Without giving too much away, can you tell me a bit about The Girl on the Doorstep?

Rosie Harris, an orphan, is raised by gypsies and realises she has ‘second sight’. She is befriended by the canal people and reads palms to make a living. Finding herself in all sorts of predicaments, Rosie battles her way through them. All she wants is a ‘happy ever after’ life – will she achieve this?

How did you get the idea for the story?

My sister, Kim, bought me a book for Christmas on ‘Black Country’ canals which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. It sparked an idea so I grabbed my pen and began to write. The Girl on the Doorstep was the result.

I was intrigued by the reference to the ‘cut-rats’, the canal folk Rosie befriends who travel the Black Country waterways.  Can you tell us any more about them?

The ‘cut-rats’ were hard working folk who lived and worked on the canals. They were looked down upon by town folk, unfairly in my opinion, as being rough and ready. The women swore like navvies and the men drank like it was going out of fashion. Working long hours at back-breaking work took its toll and many died at a fairly young age.

In the book, Rosie reads palms to make a living.  Do you believe in ‘second sight’ yourself?

I do believe in ‘second sight’ – I’ve had too many experiences not to. I also think there are a lot of charlatans out there, so beware before you part with your money.

Were there particular scenes in the book you found especially challenging – or rewarding – to write?

When I write I think about my readers. Will this scene make them chuckle? Will another bring them to tears? Writing a book as a whole is challenging, but then it makes us authors work harder.

What is it about the Black Country that inspires you to make it a location for your books?

The ‘Black Country’ is where I was born and brought up. Although I live in the country now, my heart will forever be in Wednesbury.

As a writer of historical fiction, what do you think is the key to creating an authentic picture of a particular period?

Senses. I endeavour to draw the reader into the place and time with smells, sounds, etc., as well as historical facts.

Do you have a favourite place to write or any writing rituals?

I sit in my easy chair to write and I always use a fountain pen. I write longhand as I find it easier to glance back at the pages should I need to. Once the draft is complete I then type it up before reading through it thoroughly.

Which authors do you admire and enjoy reading?

I have an eclectic mix of books on my Kindle and in the bookcases. I enjoy Mary Wood, Linda la Plante, Lyn Andrews, I also enjoy John Lyman, Dan Brown – anything to do with ancient Egypt or ancient Rome.

What are you working on next?

My next project is set around an orphanage in 1890. A family in abject poverty sell two of their children to an orphanage, which is not council run, for five shillings. The boy knows that to protect himself and his younger sister he has to learn to fight. So he manages to convince a pugilist to teach him bare-knuckle boxing. We will all have to wait and see where these two youngsters end up!

Thank you for those fascinating answers to my questions, Lindsey.  Your many fans will be thrilled by your answer to my last question!

Lindsey Hutchinson Author ProfileAbout the Author

Lindsey lives in Shropshire with her husband and dog.  She loves to read and has recently discovered photography.  Lindsey is the daughter of million-copy bestselling author Meg Hutchinson.

Connect with Lindsey

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