A friend told me about a reading and Q&A that Ian McEwan was to do in Winchelsea, near Rye in East Sussex, just down the road from me. She was going to attend, we had an arrangement to have a meal, so I said I'd pick her up after the event.
Being, of necessity but not in nature, an opportunist, I thought I'd take a copy of Gog-Magog along and see if I could get it into Ian's hands. Maybe he'd read it, or give it to a relative with children, or something... I got there before the end, and heard the last few questions. Ian was as charming, erudite and modest as you'd expect. His favourite of his books? Black Dogs, since you ask.
I stood in the queue to buy his latest book, Lessons, and to get it signed. I joined at the back, because I wanted a little conversation with Ian, and didn't fancy some worthy Winchelsean tutting behind me. By the time I reached the desk, Lessons were all sold out, so with an apology I presented Gog-Magog to him, and told him a little about it. He did like the look of it, and offered congratulations on its production. I asked him if he might have time to read it, and then, if he liked it, well, he didn't need me to tell him how valuable an endorsement would be to a self-publisher like me. He made no promises, but asked if it was suitable for a precociously smart 9-year old. I'd have said 12, but precociously smart? Possibly. If not, I was confident that the child's parents would enjoy reading it aloud at bedtime.
So, conversation over, and Ian being moved on by the organisers, he took the book, and as I turned away, asked if I would sign it for him. I did so, and that's the story of how Ian McEwan was the only person who attended my book-signing event in Winchelsea.