January 2010

It’s looking like the predominant concern for this year will be the writing of novel number 4.  I’ve agreed with Faber what it’s going to be about and it’s a project that’s been around for quite a while, so in theory it shouldn’t require an awful lot of research or preparation.  I just need to plan out the scenes, find the tone, then get on with it.  Sheesh, this novel-writing business sounds easy-peasy when I put it like that.  To be honest, I suspect it is for some writers.  Anyway, we shall see …

Other than that, I seem to be endlessly pitching ideas at the moment.  There are three or four ideas for screenplays, which again have been developed to some degree or other and there seem to be no shortage of meetings (with production companies / tv channels / directors / etc) where they’re discussed.  But I’m not in a position where I can do any sustained work on a screenplay without being properly remunerated.  So, again, it’ll become clearer as the year goes on if any of these people / organisations are willing to stump up.  I consider myself very lucky in having a publisher who wants another novel out of me and that is most definitely my priority.  But if someone comes along and offers to pay for a first draft of one of the screenplays then that would be just dandy and I would essentially do what I’ve been doing for the last two or three years and alternate between fiction (two-thirds of the time) and scripts (the rest).

Other than that, I’ll try and write something for one or two of the daily papers to coincide with the publication of The Widow’s Tale in April.  Having spent a couple of years working on a book you suddenly become quite desperate to publicise it, mainly out of a fear that if you don’t it’s simply going to sink without a trace.  Faber have always been very good at drumming up reviews for my books – even the more obscure ones, such as Ten Sorry Tales and Bears of England.  But the longer I’ve been around the more I appreciate that good reviews, or even readings (of which I shall be doing quite a few from April onwards) will only generate so much interest.  Whereas having the story read on Radio Four, or a review on one of the arts programmes will reach out to a great many more people.  It doesn’t mean that the people who hear about the book are going to dash out and buy it, of course, but there’s no doubt that visibility plays a major part.  My philosophy has always been that as a punter you need to have heard about a book (or band or film, etc) from at least three or four different sources – a sort of cumulative process, heading towards some critical point – before you actually consider parting with your cash.  Probably the most important element is having someone personally recommend something to you … which in some ways always gives you hope.