FANCY naming a corpse after your mother-in-law in Peter James’ latest murder thriller? Well here’s your chance – finally.

Swindon bookseller Alex Call of Bert’s Books is attempting to raise £30,000 to realise his childhood dream of building a bookshop.

And one of the prizes on offer to those who support to his online crowdfunder is the chance to name a corpse in bestselling thriller writer Peter James’ latest page turner.

Alex, 32, who left his job as a senior executive at WHSmith to set up Bert’s Books last year, said: “Peter and I have been friends for a long time.”

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Alex Call, founder of Bert's Books Picture: DAVE COX

Donate £750 towards the fundraiser and Mr James, whose bestselling novels include the Det Supt Roy Grace series set in Sussex, will name a corpse after you or a loved one in an upcoming thriller.

It’s an unusual reward – but by no means the only one on offer to donors. More than a dozen authors have offered up prizes, including signed first editions, the chance to name characters in works by Juno Dawson, Adele Parks and Gavin Extence, or tour the Wessex Auction Rooms on the day TV favourite Bargain Hunt films at the Chippenham business.

Alex has less than a month to hit his £30,000 target. If he succeeds it means he can build the pop-up bookshop of his dreams: a converted shipping container filled with tomes.

When he briefed designers Studio Able he said he wanted something light and different – the sort of thing Apple might come up with if they were to open a bookshop.

“We kind of wanted to throw out the rulebook for what a bookshop might look like,” he said.

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Crime writer Peter James in Marlborough

“I wanted to make something that isn’t intimidating, so people who don’t normally go into a bookshop feel really comfortable coming in.”

He is currently looking at potential sites around Swindon, but it’s not going to be within an existing retail unit.

The shop could be a big success. Since launching his online shop last year, Alex has been impressed by the response. Last year, two dozen independent bookshops opened up – set against declining numbers historically and a poor year for the retail sector generally in 2019. Alex said: “Bookshops are bucking the trend.”

For Alex, it’s a chance to share his passion for reading: “I just love talking to people about the books they love, finding something they might not otherwise have found and which they might enjoy reading. It makes me happy.”

Asked when his dream of opening his own book store began, the bookseller said: “It’s probably just from reading books as a kid. We would go into town at the weekend with my mum.

“My mum would go to the bank, my sister would go to the clothes shop and I would go to WHSmith.”

For more details about the Bert’s Books crowdfunding campaign and to donate, visit: