Tuesday, 9 March 2010

What have I been up to?

I still intend to talk about movies, but I ought perhaps to tell you what I've been up to in the last week or so.

Well, I have been trying to build up a head of steam with the next book - Mister Creecher. The book is so vivid in my mind that I want to get the bulk of it written as soon as possible. My art teacher at school used to encourage us to 'cover the paper with paint' early on and then work in the details and I have a similar view of writing. I want to get to the end so that I can see the shape of the book. I'm not really content until the whole thing is out of my head. I don't mean the 'whole thing' as in the finished book. I just need to get the story down and see where all the scenes that I have had playing in my head are going to fit into it. I know how my book will start and I know how it will end. But I don't know in advance whether the scenes I have in my head will work. I won't know that until I write it. And if they don't, however important they seemed when I wrote the synopsis, they will get dumped.

last Wednesday I went to the Bloomsbury sales conference in London. I had been asked to give a ten minute talk about me and my books, but particularly The Dead of Winter as that is the one we will be promoting next. Ian Lamb, who handles publicity for my books at Bloomsbury, had asked me to come early just in case things moved more quickly than expected. No sooner had I arrived than Ian showed me through a door and there was a round of applause and I was on! It was a bit intimidating, but they were a supportive crowd and I had Sarah Odedina giving me encouraging looks from the front row.

I am not a great one for rehearsing speeches or reading from notes and so I think its fair to say that my talks do not have the consistency of some authors I have come across who have clearly practiced their lines and honed their act. I like to think that this gives my talks a spontaneity, but it can mean they drift off piste occasionally. I just hate it when I find myself trotting out the same phrases or anecdotes. It has to taste fresh in my mouth, if you see what I mean.

It seemed to work well this time and it was great to hear such enthusiasm for the books. Authors can seem very self-assured when they talk about how they write, but we are a fragile lot actually, and it does no harm at all to hear that people respect and enjoy what we do.

I have also decided to enter a couple of open exhibitions. It is all a little last minute, but I have applied for entry forms for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and for the Eastern Open, which is held at the King's Lynn Arts Centre in Norfolk. It is a long time since I have entered either. I have been accepted and rejected by both, so it will be interesting to see what happens.

I have entered some landscape paintings based on the nearby riverside area called Sheeps Green here in Cambridge. I have painted and repainted those pictures over the course of the last year or two and I have decided that it is perhaps time to get them finished and move on. Before I send them in I'll get them photographed and hopefully show them on the blog.

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