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Becky Lucas interview: Secrets of a bookselling agent

Updated: Sep 21, 2022

1- What’ya reading Becky?

I am currently reading a book called Kiss After Dying by Ashok Banker. It’s a debut thriller from this writer who has previously written children’s and mythological books. As far as thrillers go, it is one of the better ones, full of plot twists which you can’t guess. I’m looking forward to then moving on to Craig Silvey’s new debut children’s book, Runt.

2- What’s your first great memory of being in a bookstore?

As I child I used to go into WHSmith in our hometown. It was full of gorgeous books, stationery and had every magazine you could think of. My mum always encouraged us to read and used to take us to our local library every weekend. It’s where I discovered my love of The Moomins.

3- You won the Hardie Grant 2022 Children’s Bookseller of the Year. What do you think makes Shakespeare’s Bookshop so special?

To be honest, I’m not sure how I managed to win this award, but I am incredibly proud to have done so. I do pride myself on my customer service and I love what I do, so I hope this is a reflection of that. Also, I had a lot of support from all the creatives in South Australia most of whom I am proud to call friends. A special shout out to Allayne Webster and Kathryn Beilby who wrote letters of support. I was up against some strong competition and some very well known bookshops from bigger states, so I am proud to have won it for SA.

4- What is your favourite genre in children’s books and why?

I love and am passionate about all genres of children’s books, but my favourite has to be picture books. Reading a wonderful story which is accompanied by magical illustrations is a joyous experience. Nothings beats seeing or hearing children laugh at a picture book. They can soothe children, make them smile and take them to imaginary places - and that applies to adults too, of course.

5- Should dogs be allowed in bookstores?

Absolutely! Holly the Bookshop Dog definitely agrees. Children have been known to sit down in our store and read to Holly. Also, in some cases dogs can be better behaved than adults.

6- If you could choose to be any character in a children’s book, who would it be?

As a child I read all the Enid Blyton books and dreamed of being Fanny, who was one of the children from The Magic Faraway Tree so that I could discover all the lands they went to. I also wanted to be Susan Pevensie from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. If I was Susan, I would have tried to do more to stop Aslan from dying. This absolutely broke my heart as a kid, even if he did get brought back to life later in the book.

7- What’s the most bizarre thing a customer has asked or done in your store?

In 2020, just as we were hearing about Covid, I had a customer tell me that my shop wouldn’t survive and we, and many other bookshops, would be closed within two years. He said he was a realist, but the realist in me stayed positive and, in fact, we had our best year ever in 2021, as did many of the bookshops. And now I am looking forward to moving into a beautiful, newly built shop next year.

8- What are the best and worst times of day to visit Shakespeare’s Bookshop if customers would like to see a happy face?

I am at my best in the mornings, especially on a Monday morning, and not so good on a Friday after 4pm, though I will still continue to smile. Wearing a mask sometimes means we don’t have to smile, so there are a few benefits to wearing it on Friday afternoons.

9- If you could add one magical element to your store, what would it be?

I don’t just want a magical tree. I want a forest. This really would be magical.

10- What’s your favourite Mike Lucas book?

That’s tricky and like asking me who is better - Han Solo or Indiana Jones? I have two favourites. The first is Olivia’s Voice (CBCA notable) which still makes me shed a tear, and it was Mike’s first published book. The second is What We All Saw because this book was written during a difficult time for Mike.


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