It seems impossible, but it’s true: the author has never seen someone with a copy of her novels until this week.
Me Before You, her most popular title, has been bought (and loved) by more than 12 million people alone, with a further 1.1 million copies sold when a special edition was released to coincide with the premiere of the film adaptation starring Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin. Neither the book nor the movie came with an accompanying box of tissues, however, which seems like a missed marketing opportunity, considering how heartbreaking and keenly felt the story is.
And yet, despite all that success and all of those dog-eared copies making their way through book clubs and libraries around the world, Moyes had never seen a fan reading one of her books out in the wild. Until now.
“It’s taken 16 years but today, at the dentist, I finally saw someone reading one of my books in the world,” Moyes tweeted. “Luckily she was enjoying it.”
The woman’s name is Jane, and she was seen reading Still Me, the third in Moyes’ series following Lou Clark through her love, loss and life. Published earlier this year, it follows Lou as she muddles her way through life in New York, long distance love with Ambulance Sam, and her new job working for a mega-rich American businessman and his wife.
“Over the past 16 years I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been told by friends or readers that they’ve seen someone reading one of my books,” Moyes tells Stylist.co.uk today. “It seems mad that I’ve never seen it myself.”
“So when I sat down in the dentist’s waiting room yesterday and saw a woman reading Still Me there was no way I wasn’t going to tell her,” Moyes continues. “She looked a bit startled at first, checked my face against the picture of the flyleaf and (unless she was humouring an apparent crazy person) seemed genuinely delighted. I did, however, check to see that she had nearly finished it first – if she had visible hated the book I might not have been so brave.”
Moyes couldn’t sign the copy for her, as it belonged to her local library. But Jane shared with Moyes her campaign to save local libraries and the author has since shared the petition on her Twitter. “That was a nice result,” she says.
Maybe it’s no surprise that Moyes hasn’t seen anyone out and about with her books. When the Stylist.co.uk office read them it’s usually in the privacy of our own homes so that no-one can see us crying all the big, fat tears that we cry whenever we read one of her emotional books. And even we will admit it’s unlikely Moyes will run into us there.