What to say when you meet someone for the first time? When they are an author, for instance.

The best thing is obviously to say ‘I loved your book’ and if you are not feeling too senile, it’s always possible to mention the title. If you can remember it. At worst I say, ‘I loved your book about the girl who swam the Channel.’ With a bit of luck they will then mention both the title and perhaps the girl’s name, which you had also forgotten, even though you loved the book.

Most of the time, however, I seem to wander up to authors to tell them I haven’t read anything they’ve written. They wince, and say that’s OK.

But my unappealing habit of telling them on a second meeting that I still haven’t read their book(s) is really something I must give up. (I just run out of things to say, though…)

On Wednesday I was at least able to introduce myself to one of the authors by mentioning who I am and to qualify that statement by saying I’d reviewed his book a while back.

Except, thinking it over, I realised this might come across as ‘I recently reviewed your book, and very favourably too. So be nice to me and appreciate what I did for you…’

In short, I don’t know what to say next time.

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