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Award win and top author visit in one week for Diss Publishing





Diss Publishing has had a double celebration in a week after being crowned Romantic Bookseller of the Year and hosting an evening with an international best-selling author.

The Mere Street independent bookshop was given its award by the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) at a ceremony in London on November 13.

Business owner Birgitte Mager, who collected the award, said the achievement was extraordinary and that she could not be more proud of her team.

Karen Pearl, Anya Temple and Birgitte Mager with their Romantic Bookseller of the Year award. Picture: Mark Bullimore
Karen Pearl, Anya Temple and Birgitte Mager with their Romantic Bookseller of the Year award. Picture: Mark Bullimore

She added: “There are more than 800 booksellers in the country, so for us to win is so special.

“The bookshop is two years away from its centenary, so this is such a big thing for us and lovely for our town as well.”

The finalists and eventual winners in the 10 categories were chosen by the RNA’s 1,000 members.

Mrs Mager said: “We are incredibly blessed by having some real big names in the romantic novel genre around here, such as Heidi Swain, Jenni Keer and Clare Marchant.

“The world at the moment is hard to contemplate and I feel a heartwarming love story can go a long way to helping people through many things and feel better about themselves.”

With the authors of the genre predominantly women, Mrs Mager said she hopes that more men will embrace romantic novels.

She said: “Only about one per cent of the RNA’s members are male, so it would be great for more to get involved – when you think of these sorts of novels you think of the likes of Jane Austen, but men can definitely write romance, too.”

The trophy from the awards now has pride of place in the shop, which Mrs Mager says shows how Diss constantly punches above its weight and that the town has “an awful lot to be happy about”.

Following the win, author Louis de Bernières, famous for his war novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, came to the shop on November 17, to meet fans and talk about his new book, Light over Liskeard.

Novelist Louis de Bernieres, second from the left, at the author evening at Diss Publishing. Picture: Birgitte Mager
Novelist Louis de Bernieres, second from the left, at the author evening at Diss Publishing. Picture: Birgitte Mager

Kris Halls, who has been a bookseller in the shop for about six years, hosted the evening – talking to the writer about his new novel and his technique when writing his best-sellers.

She said: “Louis approached us to come in and it was such a lovely event. It was my first time doing something like this here, but he was such a good conversationalist and really put me at ease.”

Louis also read from his new page turner, did an audience question-and answer session and a book signing.

Kris said: “He has been touring the whole country with the book and is a great supporter of small, independent bookshops.

“During the week, he also went to Diss High School and did a creative writing course, just showing how he gives back to his local area as well.

“I would like to thank everyone that came to the event and, of course, Louis. The audience questions on the night were brilliant and, hopefully, we can do more evenings like this in the future.”



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