Golden Hare Books
© Katalina Watt 2018

In October I joined the close-knit team at Golden Hare Books in Edinburgh, and we were recently delighted to be named the 2019 Independent Bookshop of the Year in the Scotland category of The British Book Awards, also known as the Nibbies. We’re also chuffed to be shortlisted for Children’s Bookseller of the Year and Individual Bookseller of the Year, with the results being announced in May.

My role is primarily assisting with events, which range from book launches to book groups. The former involves liaising with authors, publishers, and guests to ensure the events run smoothly and overseeing logistics such as POS displays and merchandise, catering, seating, tickets, and sales. For the latter, I spearhead the monthly Short Story Clubs and YA Book Groups, selecting and preparing readings and facilitating group discussion.

For the YA Book Group, which debuted this year, I’m aiming to work through a range of author experiences, genres, and formats, ensuring we’re reading as widely as possible. Golden Hare is constantly innovating and finding new ways to be even more inclusive and representative. I’ve really enjoyed all the debates inspired so far, as we’re all pushing to read beyond our familiar genres and authors.

For Short Story Club we’ve chosen an eclectic mix of stories, but at the start of 2019, we opted to work through the beautiful Faber & Faber’s new collection Faber Stories series, created for their 90th anniversary. Harking back to my student theatre performances, I love storytelling to the group and leading an informal discussion. The joy is that you don’t have to read the story before the night, and so the readers’ reactions are very instinctive and the chat is off the cuff. Attendees have praised it as a low-commitment opportunity to be read a story, reminding them of childhood, but also to read outside their usual genres, find new authors, and meet other local readers. You can read a bit about the format of the evening in this lovely review of our Feb Short Story Club by Niamh Anderson.

As well as assisting at the events themselves, my role has expanded to assisting with Publicity and Marketing for the extensive events programme, utilising social media and a range of online events advertising platforms. Golden Hare also has a regular podcast called Bibliophile where some of our booksellers discuss our monthly Book Group title, recommendations, and other bookish topics. Part of my responsibility is producing these podcasts, assisting with recording, occasionally hosting, and editing audio in post-production ensuring quality control before it goes live.


Katalina Watt chairing Fiona Erskine's launch The Chemical Detective
© Sarah Cooke 2019
Katalina Watt chairing Fiona Erskine's launch The Chemical Detective
© Sarah Cooke 2019

I had the privilege of performing at a spoken word event as well as chairing my first event in April, launching The Chemical Detective by Fiona Erskine, kicking off a thrilling new series about Dr Jaq Silver, a chemical engineer who ‘blows things up to keep people safe’. I had been given some invaluable advice from my colleagues at Golden Hare but also by Rebecca Smith who was chairing the launch at Far From the Madding Crowd bookshop in Linlithgow. Fiona was a delightful author to interview, expressing her desire to see more proactive and intelligent female heroines in thrillers and recounting her fascinating journey to publication; many supporters and early readers were in the audience. Fiona was kind enough to invite me to her celebratory launch after-party and had some kind words about the event:

“So well organised and expertly chaired! Katalina – I refuse to believe that was your first time, you are a natural and your enthusiasm for the book shone through, which was incredibly touching”.

I thoroughly enjoyed speaking with Fiona and look forward to chairing my next event with Golden Hare in June.

As well as our diverse regular events programme, I’m extremely excited to be assisting with Book Fringe 2019, a free book festival in August and a collaboration between Lighthouse Books and Golden Hare Books. My role at Golden Hare is varied and no two days are the same in bookselling or bookshop events! It’s a joy to interact with passionate and talented booksellers, authors, publishers, and readers.

Spoken word performance with the band Merope as part of White Shroud at Golden Hare
© Sarah Cooke 2019