In a weird twist of fate, I was asked a couple of months ago how I felt about a book group selecting one of my books to read. Understandably, I said I would be delighted. As the group was purely women I suggested Yallah! as being my most open and appropriate book for the audience. My other stuff is a bit too male-led and hideous in places. I was invited initially by Gina, a friend and colleague who is also a writer. I will often drop by her desk for a chat about books, mental health and anything else we feel like discussing.The group leader, Suzanne, read the opening chapter and said she would love for them to not only read the book but to also have me as a special guest at their meet up to discuss it.
The best part was I wouldn’t even need to put in for the lunchtime buffet they were ordering.
It was still with some trepidation that I headed off to the meeting with both Gina and Michelle, who had also picked up Yallah and decided to join the group. I felt nervous as we entered the pub and walked straight through to the back room, wondering if I should get a drink first. The room was full of women. They were everywhere. As soon as we walked in, their collective gaze turned and I was terrified and enthralled all at once.
We started with food while Suzanne waxed lyrical about my writing style and the content of Yallah. She had purposely brought hummus to make me feel more comfortable. Every step of the way I was surprised by how much they knew about me. It made sense because they had read a book about me and my thoughts on my experiences. It still felt strange.
After we had dined on fine vegetarian cuisine the questions started coming. They wanted to know more about the trip and the people I had trekked with. They wanted to know more about Alan the camel. They wanted to know if Saaid and Omar were as much fun as they had seemed. If the food had been as good as I had made it out to be in the book. What it had been like to walk so far in such heat. I started to relax and in the end I had a really good time.
I was amazed with the way they connected with my writing. I originally wrote Yallah to serve as a reminder of the first trek I ever took part in. The idea of it being accessible outside of that group amazed me.
We posed for photographs together and they said they would be interested in reading more of my work. I felt like a celebrity. They told me I was an old soul and we had a number of deep conversations about spirituality.
I cannot tell you how incredible it was to sit with them and talk to them about what we went through in the Sahara. It was an incredible and surreal experience and one I will never forget. I would like to thank the Wormettes for taking the time to read my work and for inviting me to join them.
They are total sweethearts.