Throughout February I’ve been busy working on my next Wesley Peterson novel. Last year I took part in an auction for CLICSargent (the children’s cancer charity), giving the winner the opportunity to have their name used in my next book (and receive a signed copy on publication) so, if you’d like to take part please go to http://www.clicsargent.org.uk/content/get-character-2015 It’s a really good cause so please be generous!
A recent YouGov poll found that 60% of people saw being an author as their ideal job (24% higher than a TV presenter and 29% higher than a movie star). Somehow, when I’m sitting in my oldest jeans staring at my computer in search of inspiration that won’t come, hoping that filling the washing machine will provide an exciting distraction, I wonder whether the media’s depiction of the author’s lifestyle is responsible for the poll results. In films and TV programmes writers are invariably fabulously wealthy. They always live in beautiful mansions with large swimming pools (I have a small, muddy garden pond – does that count?) and have loyal secretaries and chauffeurs. Needless to say, this is all far removed from the reality of my own life, and the lives of my writing friends, but the myths still persist (one lady at a talk I gave expressed astonishment that I cleaned my own bathroom). I found myself wondering whether the job would seem so appealing if the poll respondents knew that only 11% of professional authors can live on the proceeds of writing alone (and only a handful of these could remotely be described as ‘wealthy’). However, having said all this, there’s no job I’d rather do and the high points certainly more than make up for the hard work of gathering plots together (like herding cats only harder), the hours spent in solitude and the general insecurity that every writer feels whether they admit it or not.
February provided two of the high points I mentioned in the previous paragraph. Early in the month I travelled to Formby in Merseyside to do a book signing at Formby Books. I’ve known the manager, Tony Higginson, for many years now and I’ve always admired his enthusiasm for the world of books and bookselling. I was delighted to learn that he’s just acquired new, much larger premises in Waterloo (North Liverpool) and he’s due to relocate there in June. I’m very much looking forward to visiting his new shop and to many more convivial book signings in the future.
Talking of conviviality, high point number two was attending my second meeting of the Detection Club in London last week. It was held in the august surroundings of the Garrick Club in London’s theatreland and it was wonderful to dine with so many distinguished colleagues, gazed down upon by portraits of history’s most famous actors. It was a truly memorable evening (and the Welsh rarebit was divine!).
While I was in London I visited Charles Dickens’ house http://www.dickensmuseum.com/ where he wrote some of his most famous works (including Oliver Twist) and it was inspirational to stand in the study where he worked. There can’t be a writer in existence who won’t agree that Dickens was one of the most influential writers in the history of British literature and I have always been a great admirer of his books – and his vivid characters. He is often said to be one of the first crime writers (think of Inspector Bucket in Bleak House) so visiting his former home was a very special experience for me.
I’m excited to be able to tell you that Joe Plantagenet is back and his new spooky investigation, WALKING BY NIGHT is out at the end of March. (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Walking-Night-Plantagenet-Procedural-Mystery/dp/178029073X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1425224199&sr=1-1) Hope you enjoy Joe’s latest case...and don’t have nightmares.