Monday, November 27, 2006
On my birthday I had my first radio interview. It could be my first and only interview (you just don’t know in this game) but I understand from those who tuned in, did not tune out, and I came across quite well apparently. And that’s despite having the interview at 9:30 in the morning – a time I very rarely see on Sundays (yes, I know… that will change whenever we have a family, but like I said, I’m just a 23 year old at heart!). I was half asleep, perhaps too groggy to be truly nervous, and with little idea of what to expect. As it turned out the interview with BBC Radio Sheffield’s Dean Pepall was a more personal one, with asides to my writing. It was a little tough at first but I soon relaxed into it and the interview flew by. Like all of these things, you never know how it will translate into book sales, especially with it being around 6 weeks before the novel hits the shelves, but hopefully the title, The Secret War, will have imprinted on a few listeners’ thoughts…
…And last night I had my first sleepless night due to my book. Again, a first for me, that I should have not-so much a nightmare about The Secret War, but a restless and vivid dream about something that is increasingly taking over my waking and sleeping life (which isn’t a bad thing… there are worse things to become obsessed about!). The dream itself revolved around a mistake in publication where one of the rough drafts was published instead of the final draft. It was then proof-read in hardback copy by someone at work who scrawled red pen over the problem areas. It was soul destroying to see the book torn apart especially with it being a couple of days away from being reviewed by the Press – kinda like watching your ambition being trampled upon by a herd of hungry rhinos.
I woke up at first believing it was all true until the first reality check occurred with the weekday 7am radio alarm.
I’ll tell you now, the relief was overwhelming.
I think I’m beginning to understand how important this book is to me. I knew before that I was fulfilling a dream, but it’s more than that. It’s an opportunity that I cannot squander. John Highfield of the Sheffield Star told me I should take advantage of everything that comes my way over the coming months and revel in the exposure because it may not ever happen again. Everyone has their ten minutes of fame. Some of us get extra time if we’re lucky.
I wonder how lucky I’ll be? If extra time does come my way, then I think I can live with a few restless nights.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
After bemoaning the amount of time I spend reading, I am now ankle deep in reading Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, re-reading Milton’s Paradise Lost, and reading Steven Pressfield’s Alexander - the former two for research purposes for the 2nd draft of The Burning Sands of Time, the latter purely for pleasure.
This Sunday, if you are lucky enough to live within receiving distance of BBC Radio Sheffield, you will catch me doing an interview in the morning with Dean Pepall on a slot called “That Was Then”. Not sure if I have a good radio voice or not, but we’ll see…
I’m also off to London in a couple of weeks for another launch do, this time Jonathan Drapes’ (I’ve added his website to the links left). So I should a have a few photos of the “gang” on this blog in the next couple of weeks, and then it’s my book launch at Sheffield in Waterstones. The invites have all gone out, the replies are pretty much all in and the books are being ordered for the event (a modest number of around 80 or so copies). It’s all come around so quickly – like getting married – but I can’t wait.
All that preparation, all that hard work, patience, heartache, elation and revelation, is finally about to pay-off.
A Secret War is coming…
Friday, November 17, 2006
I’ve learned three things over the last two days.
The first, is that drinking single malt whiskey does not cure heavy colds. It just breaks them earlier, and you still feel like shit.
The second, is that the place my wife and I intend to buy might actually be radioactive. I have this crazy image of sitting in a nice kitchen eating my cornflakes with a bright yellow radioactive suit on. At least they’ll see us coming…
Thirdly, another first, I’ll be doing an interview on Radio Sheffield a week this Sunday with a nice fellow who rang me up out of the blue whilst I was in the middle of this heavy cold. Dosed up to the eyeballs, I didn’t even realise the interview is on my birthday! Should be interesting though…
Sunday, November 12, 2006
The interview on Tuesday was, thankfully, not like that. The interviewer himself, John Highfield, was welcoming and we chatted as I might with any friend about my writing. I think I got in everything I wanted to say about the book, and I guess time will tell what gets published in the Sheffield Star, and also in the article for Profile Magazine (another publication from Sheffield Newspapers). Yeah two articles for the price of one – not bad, eh?
At the end it didn’t feel like I’d sold my soul. After all, there’s no hidden skeletons hiding anywhere, be it immediate or distant family. My upbringing was safe and reassuring, and I guess there’s no gossip to be had. But being a writer, I admit that prior to the interview my imagination got the better of me – hence the nerves and the trepidation that I was, in someway, selling my soul to the Media Daemon.
The interview in Profile Magazine and the article in the Sheffield Star will be published sometime in January. Obviously, I will put something out on this blog and the website when I know the specific dates.
Selling your soul in the 21st century
That wasn’t the only “infernal bartering” that occurred this week. Finally, after much searching and much disappointment, we have found a house and are in the process of buying it. There’s still a long ways to go before the exchanging of contracts, but with a lot of luck, we should have it sorted pretty quickly. If everything goes to plan, we’ll be moving out of the heart of Sheffield and into the cosy ‘burbs of Dronfield, a great town that nestles in the dip between Sheffield and Chesterfield (both places claiming this fantastic town for itself, though if you ask anyone from “Dronners” where their allegiances lie, most will only smile, keeping that secret to themselves).
But signing up for a mortgage for the first time is very much like signing away your soul. Indeed, as we sat in the mortgage adviser’s office and she went through all the details - the facts and the figures - I couldn’t help but notice the gentleman standing in the corner wearing a nicely tailored tuxedo that just about went down to his cloven hooves, and could not hide the forked tail flitting about behind him. Nor could I help notice the way his smile spread wider as I signed on the dotted line, his eyes burning bright as they traced every flick and dash of pen on the contract.
Indeed, when at last the application was signed by my wife, the Devil melted back into the shadows and I think I almost heard a chuckle.
So that’s it. We are now on the property ladder, and burdened with the sort of debt to make the generation before us tremble with fear. At least we now have a third income, whatever that may be, and it’s most definitely come at the right time. And in the spirit of one of my favourite short stories, and my favourite film of all time, The Shawshank Redemption:
I look forward to moving to our new home.
I look forward to having a garden I can finally relax in.
I look forward to writing new epics in my new study.
I look forward….
Friday, November 03, 2006
In the past week or so I have also been busy with “writer-things” that don’t really require any writing. I’ve been looking over the 1st draft of the Burning Sands… and making sweeping changes to it. If everything goes to plan (more so than it did during the 1st draft, anyway) the second draft should be around 30,000 words shorter, with more pace, and oddly more plot. I think it is easy to slip into stream-of-conscious writing when you are typing away in blocks of 30-40 mins per day, which sometimes leads to a meandering narrative. There is no sense of flow and writing can feel disjointed and overlong as it has during the last draft.
So come the 2nd draft, comes a new way of writing. I will be casting aside the lunchtime write-up for an evening’s worth of work instead; perhaps 3 evenings a week would do it at 2-3 hours of working? Yes, I think that would work wonders and would get me into some kind of flow rather than the stop-start approach of the last six months. After all, when something is not working the way you want it, you make changes, don’t you? And that applies to theway you write, not just what you write.
I also need to put a wall between my writing and the excitement of The Secret War coming out in January. At the moment every week seems to hold a new surprise. A couple of weeks ago it was the German deal. Last week it was founding out there will be an article on me for the in-house magazine, DWPeople, and this week it’s the scheduling of my first ever interview for next Tuesday, for the Sheffield Star. I’m also mindful of the book launch at Waterstones which is slowly but surely coming together.
And yet I must not get distracted.
After all, a writer is someone who writes. Not someone who heads for celebrity, right?