For anyone reading this who lives in the Los Angeles area I will be signing at the Dark Delicacies bookstore on Saturday May 19th from 2 to 4 PM. The address is: 4213 W. Burbank Blvd. Burbank, CA 91505, 818-556-6660. I'll be signing with Michael Reaves and Brian Keene. Drop everything. Come along and say hello. After all, I'm travelling a long way. After LA I'll be in Seattle at the UW Bookstore Thursday, May 24 UW Bookstore 7-9 p.m. Immediately after that I'll be at the WH Convention at the Marriot Sea-Tac Hotel, Seattle.
The new book is at the dreaded mid-way. It's the point where I always lose confidence. Have done for every book. The end is as far away as the beginning, and I always feel I can't possibly bring it round, even though experience tells me I will, somehow. So what I do at this point in the novel is go for a walk in the woods. After checking that no-one is looking I fall to my knees, rend my garments and cry to the heavens, >Lord, why hast thou given me this bitter cup to drink?<. Then after that I feel a bit foolish, so I go home and begin to complete the novel. It generally works. I haven't yet been to the woods for this one. I thought about going today but it looks like rain, and anyway my throat is a bit sore for the lament, which does take it out of one. Perhaps tomorrow.
These writerly interludes in the woods are a nuisance but I know some authors who rather enjoy them. My agent told me of a rather superior literary writer who would only turn out 100 words of deathless prose 'when the muse struck' ie once or twice during the summer months but would then have to lie down in a darkened room for the rest of the day. I've often wanted to do that, but I'm too quick to envisage fifteen-year gaps in the publishing schedule.
Meanwhile my US editor at Simon & Schuster, Jason Kaufman has moved on to greater things, having been headhunted by rival publishers Doubleday. I wish him well but I really do seem to get through editors, one way and another. I must be the publishing counterpart to the curse of Hello magazine. Counting on both sides of the pond I've had nine different editors over the course of my career, not including the present incumbents. The statistics go something like this: Promoted: 3 Fired: 2 Now Doing Something In Marketing:1 Given up and gone fishin': 1 Emigrated to Australia: 1 Went Missing in York: 1. Not exactly a stable business, is it? At the recent London Book Fair, though, I did manage to meet my new editor at S&S, the thoroughly likeable George Lucas. And what a challenge it was not to make about his name some tedious quip he must have heard three hundred times.
I also met two dazzlingly beautiful young writers Deborah Wright and Victoria Connelly, who startled me by asking outright for my email address. (Girls are so forward these days.) I know what they want. I'm having to pretend that I know where all the best author parties are, along with those spectacular and sophisticated orgies hosted by members of the literary in-crowd. I expect they'll find me out soon enough.
At the end of last month I was a guest at the wedding of science-fiction author Peter Hamilton and Kate Fell. This took place in the disappearing county of Rutland, a bit of British geography that is always confusing to Americans since it tends to fade in and out, like Brigadoon. For several years it was part of Leicestershire, where I live and which no American can even begin to pronounce let alone indicate on a map. However the people of Rutland formed a Provisional Liberation Army in protest, and Pete was an active member. In the event of hostilities he was designated rear-gunner on the village milk float, but protest never got further than a chutney-packing fund-raising afternoon. Finally Leicestershire said, >oh go on, keep it< so now Rutland is back on the map again. And the wedding was a splendid day, though the groom startled everyone by appearing upholstered in a floral-and-brocade Edwardian frock coat. Personally I think that's taking the Rutland Independence thing a bit far.
Orion will be re-publishing The Tooth Fairy in autumn, with a completely different cover treatment, and in B format. Extraordinary what a different impression this creates - and I'm someone who >should< have a pretty clear idea about what is inside. It's true that until recently I've not been served well by my book covers (not in England at any rate - the covers of my earlier books are so risibly and spectacularly Gorgon-like ugly that I can only look at them from behind the sofa and through a small mirror.) I had to wait until I was published in the US before I started getting decent cover treatment. As for the Orion cover for the forthcoming SMOKING POPPY (October in the UK, January in the US) it's beautiful. You can see the proof version on this site.
I notice our Poet Laureate Andrew Motion has been getting into trouble. Perhaps he was drunk on the "sack of butt" which forms part of the remuneration of the post, but it seems he had a steamy exchange of emails with one of his writing students. Like me he teaches Creative Writing at university. Unlike me, all his students want to sleep with him. (Are poets sexier than novelists? I can't believe that - poets are all depressing bastards with halitosis aren't they? Well, aren't they?). Anyway, >one< of his students was rather keen. Now she's gone to the University authorities accusing him of Harassment, and he is counter-claiming the same. I don't get it. These two (and she's a 37 year old published novelist herself) admit they ended tutorials with a kiss and a cuddle (at Nottingham, one tends to indicate closure by holding the study door open for a student), but that it didn't progress any further. So now the poor old Dean has to sit in on their tutorials as a kind of umpire. Well God bless the Dean. I'll bet you could strike a match on that atmosphere as the two of them politely disagree on the effectiveness or otherwise of a subordinate clause.
So on reflection it's a good thing my students don't want to sleep with me. The thought of the Dean sitting on a high stool umpiring one of my writing tutorials makes me shudder. That does it, I'm off for a walk in the woods.