…Since I wrote in this blog – I’ve been tidying up my horrendously cluttered office (yes my life is that exciting!) and I found an old school report that said, ‘Robert is inclined to rest on his laurels’, which is as true today as it was back then. I published my book The Accidental Courier last October and have been ‘resting on my laurels’ ever since – full of good intentions and weak excuses for not getting on with the next book. Actually, that’s not strictly true, I haven’t been completely idle, I’ve been plotting and planning and the first chapter and a half of my next thriller is already written but it’s fair to say progress has been slow.
I’ve also been busy promoting The Accidental Courier by writing press-releases and giving talks and even shooting a book trailer, which you can see below (it’s amazing how drivers slow down when there’s someone on the roadside pointing a camera at them!).
I was also invited to be a guest blogger on Tony Riches Blog – The Writing Desk (http://tonyriches.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/guest-post-accidental-courier-by-robert.html) and it was this which made me think it’s high time I kick-started my own blog again. Tony writes historical fiction and has a new novel coming out soon called The Kingmaker – watch this space for more information.
So, if I have any followers left after my long absence, thanks for your patience and you can expect more regular blog entries from me from now on.
Meanwhile, why not enjoy my two-minute video:
What a time I’ve had during the past week and a half! It started with a trip to Greenway in Devon to see Agatha Christie’s summer residence. One of the room guides claimed that Agatha’s work is the most read after The Bible and Shakespeare – I don’t know if that’s true but I’m certain she must be the most read crime writer of all time and deservedly so – her ingenious plot twists are as popular today as ever and characters such as Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot will surely live forever in the imaginations of present and future readers. For this relatively new crime writer it was inspirational just to be there seeing some of her correspondence on display: I even bought a box set of the novels either about, or influenced by, Greenway.
Next, I attended a Jeffery Deaver seminar at the start of Bristol’s annual CrimeFest Convention that left me feeling empowered and with several ideas I can’t wait to put into practice.
During CrimeFest 2013, I listened to many heroes of mine talk about the craft of writing and rubbed shoulders in bars and elevators with the likes of Robert Goddard, Felix Francis, Denise Mina, Michael Ridpath, Lindsay Davis, Chris Ewan and loads more people I’ve read and enjoyed. I met many new authors too that I look forward to reading and my ‘books-I-must-read’ list has grown exponentially. In one session, Robert Goddard admitted that, even to him, reading other excellent writers can seem quite daunting but he concluded that great writers provide inspiration while not-so-great writers provide encouragement to do better. I made new friends too, from all around the world, including writers from Hawaii and Australia and came away feeling sorry it was over.
Monday, I gave a talk to a small group of writers in Sully where I met Eileen Younghusband who was awarded the British Empire Medal last year. At the age of 91, Eileen has also just won the People’s Book Prize for her autobiographical account of serving in the WAAF: during the Second World War, she played a crucial role in the RAF Fighter Command’s Filter Room monitoring and tracking Hitler’s bombs – what an inspirational lady!
Many of us have dreams and aspirations but, unlike those who yearn for success in, say, sport, one of the joys of writing is that the dream of ‘making it’ can be kept alive well into old age. If I can only manage to live as long as Eileen, then I still have a 30-odd year writing career ahead of me. And that’s a lot of books…
SO NEVER GIVE UP!
Last week I fell out of bed, something I vaguely recollect happening to me once as a child. Funny isn’t it – right up there with slipping on a banana skin, or walking into a lamppost. I can laugh at it too now but at the time it didn’t seem funny. It isn’t something I imagined would hurt very much. After all, the bed isn’t that high off the floor – about a metre – and I was asleep so I must’ve been relaxed which, combined with landing on a carpet, should’ve eased my fall. Actually, I rolled backwards out of bed lending a certain momentum as I spun towards the ground and then smacked face-first into the wardrobe near the bed. I didn’t wake up during the fall – the first thing I remember is sitting dazed on the floor besides the bed wondering what the hell had hit me and trying to stem the flow of blood from my nose (and uttering a few choice swearwords that I’m not proud of!). It didn’t do Mrs D much good being woken in the middle of the night by a loud bang and a lot of swearing and putting the light on to find me sitting on the floor next to the bed soaked in blood. Luckily for me, no bones were broken: I was just bruised and battered. For the next couple of days my nose glowed like Rudolph the Reindeer’s and I had to put up with my friends and family crying with laughter at my misfortune.
So what has this to do with writing? Well, they do say ‘write what you know’ and I can now write with first-hand knowledge about what it’s like to be woken by a sudden blow to the face; how it took two cups of hot tea and over an hour to get over the shock; how getting back into bed was a bit like climbing back onto a horse that had just thrown me; how, a week later my nose is still sore and a little swollen making my glasses uncomfortable to wear. I also learned that blood can be washed out of a pale carpet after several applications of carpet shampoo (although I’m sure forensic scientists would easily find traces remaining).
Much of this will no doubt find its way into one or more of my crime stories. Of course, it won’t be about falling out of bed but I can now imagine how it would feel if intruders decided to wake me with a baseball bat for the combination to my safe.
Everything that happens to us as writers is useful in some way and even through the worst of times (and far worse things than falling out of bed happen) I find myself guiltily stepping back to take note of my emotions and feelings at the time for potential future use. Guilty because it can make one feel a bit like a photographer in a war zone taking a picture to share with the world before actually reaching out to help the individual suffering in front of you.