Click! … Here it was again! He was walking along the cliff at Hunstanton and it had come again … click! …
The Patrick Hamilton location pilgrimage never ends. This is, I suppose, my pretentious way of saying that we’ve been on a static caravan holiday in Norfolk. But never mind all that – the big news is that I’ve finally finished a new novel. It’s called – perhaps inevitably – Sour Grapes, and it’s coming out in hardback any minute now. Here’s the announcement in The Bookseller, which gives some idea of what to expect.
What’s that you say? How can you get hold of a copy? Good question. As ever, the best thing to do is to order it from your favourite bookseller. You can also get it directly from the publisher here. I’ve defaced 250 first editions with my ugly and erratic signature, so the initial batch they send out will be these ones. Our friends at the Big Green Bookshop have a pile of signed firsts too, and you can find them here. If you don’t get a signed copy, don’t cry – it’s a really great edition, with illustrations by Port Talbot’s mighty Andrea Joseph, and if anything my signature spoils it. I’m really chuffed with how it’s turned out. Here it is, in case you were wondering what it looks like:
It’s light comic fiction, a knockabout romp intended only to entertain. I hope I’ve made it an enjoyable read. I certainly enjoyed writing it – I had to keep myself amused somehow. I’ve been working flat out in the day job (they tell me I’m a key worker – who knew?) and 100% of this book was written while lying on the bed in the evenings, barely able to move. My battle with the biz had reached a spirit-crushing new low, so I put all that on a back burner and got on with this instead. Before long I realised I was still battling the biz, just from a different angle – it turns out there’s more than one way to strangle a weasel.
It’s good of Eye/Lightning Books to take it on, particularly knowing how averse I am to every aspect of being published. Scott Pack has reprised his role as my last chance saloon. A few years ago, when he was at Aardvark Bureau, he acquired the paperback of When the Professor got Stuck in the Snow when nobody else would go near it, before promptly leaving the day after it came out. This time, having moved to a new publisher, he didn’t even wait that long, handing in his notice the moment the ink was dry on the contract, and leaving his hapless colleagues holding the baby. But the deed has been done. It’s unstoppable now. At least I hope it is.
In other news, since I was last here I’ve had some oldies appear in anthologies. A few stories from Anthropology made it into the Penguin Book of Oulipo (Ed. Philip Terry) – a collection of work from the French experimental movement, and (as in my case) writers in its shadow. I’m in some amazing company, and it’s well worth tracking down a copy. Checking now, I see it’s out in paperback – hopefully Penguin will send me my contributor’s copy for the trophy cabinet. It’ll give them something to spend their furlough money on (for crying out loud). A couple of stories from Marry Me made it into a German anthology too. It’s little morale-boosters like this that keep us going. Both of them almost didn’t happen, thanks to the usual suspects. I’ll tell the full story in episodes 548-557 of the inevitable 1000-episode podcast about my publishing travails.
So there we are. I know it’s a bit off-brand for me to be putting out a broadly positive update, but it’s been a trying few years on the writing front and it really is a relief to have something new coming out. This isn’t to say I’m not dreading the whole experience, because I am.