The One Hundred Thousand Word barrier…

(From February 2007). Once again far too much time has elapsed since I last posted, but nevertheless I have been working relentlessly on a new book for publication in 2008.

After the necessary admission that ‘Patron Saint of Thieves’ was not the right book to follow ‘A Quiet Belief In Angels’ I have been writing my CIA opus, originally called ‘The Night Skater’, but now untitled.

The night before last (evening of 4th April) I passed the 100,000 word mark. This, for me – regardless of whether or not this is an oddity, an idiosyncrasy or something else entirely – is really the benchmark.  If I have made it to 100,000 I have earned a couple of evenings off. So I have taken a couple of evenings off!

I’m still working very much full-time, and thus the evenings from about 10.00 pm (after my son has gone to bed!) until midnight, sometimes 1.00 am, are the only opportunity that I have to work. I put in two to three hours a day, sometimes less due to circumstances and disruptions, and I aim to get at least 1500-2000 words done. Working on this basis I can aim for 10,000 words a week, more in the five-week months, but with this most recent book, I have worked all the more dedicatedly as I need to get it completed before the spring.

I started back in the second week of December, and notwithstanding the fact that I had some work to do on the final draft of Quiet Belief over Christmas, I have arrived at my 100,000 word target in something around seven weeks. This isn’t bad for me, and thus I came home from work last night and watched Hitchcock’s “Rear Window”.  Most excellent!

I am more than pleased with the progress on the new book. The subject matter is good, the storyline very strong, and the characters have grown on me significantly.  Perhaps closer to “A Quiet Vendetta” in its structure, this book is once again several stories in one, all of them woven together, seemingly disparate perhaps, but growing closer as the novel progresses. I think it will be a good-sized book, in excess of 150,000 and closer to 200,000 words.  We shall see!  These things have a way of creating their own endings that are never exactly what I expected.

Others news… I have completed the copy edit on AQBIA, the cover is finalised (and is available to view on Amazon); we’ve had new author photos taken, I am booked in for readings in libraries in Wednesbury, Market Drayton, Mere Green…and more will be added as the year kicks off.  Details of when and where I’m going are always posted on the website ‘Signings & Appearances’ thing, so keep a weather-eye open for that.  Other than that my ten-year old son underwent a major dental operation (general anaesthetic and seven teeth removed!); my wife is as wonderful as ever; my editor has just returned from a month’s round-the-world trip…and he saw the Steinbeck Museum in California, visited Alcatraz, saw the New Zealand locations where Lord of the Rings was filmed…and he read a great deal of books that we’ve been talking about for some considerable time.

The new Capote film – ‘Infamous’ – is out on DVD in the US next week and I have pre-ordered some copies. I have read ‘The Man In My Basement’ by Walter Mosley recently and really, really enjoyed it.  Oh, and I got hold of a copy of the Paris Review Interviews book that’s just been released.  Interviews from as far back as ’53, originally published in the Paris Literary Review and now reproduced in full.  Such luminaries as Hemingway, Vonnegut, James M. Cain, Capote, Bellow, T.S. Eliot and others are contained within, and not only do you get the interviews, you also get a brief outline of what the author was doing at the time, the occurrence of the interview, how they appeared, such things as these, which really gives a much greater idea of what they were like. Highly recommended.

So we shall speak soon.  Am off to London next week for the Orion Author’s Party at the V&A.  Went last year and had the great honour to meet such luminaries as Leslie Phillips, Michael Palin, Miranda Richardson…I was talking to Leslie Phillips about the film he’d just completed with Peter O’Toole (‘Venus’), to my right a great work by Titian, to my left the original ‘Laughing Cavalier’ and behind me Mr. Michael Palin. Leslie Phillips was extraordinarily charming and tremendously witty, altogether unassuming and more than happy to spend a while talking to a mere sensationalist ink-scribbler such as me…and I thought to myself, ‘This is a moment I will remember for the rest of my life…’

So take care my friends, be well, and I’ll do my best to write more frequently.  Perhaps I should have made that my New Year’s Resolution…

(Author’s note, JUly 2013: The CIA novel was later published as ‘A Simple Act of Violence’.)


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