Family were very excited when I came home last night. My eldest daughter Kara had discovered that the complete book cover for Caligula: The Tyranny of Rome has been uploaded on the Waterstone's website. Even though I'd seen the original artwork it was still thrilling to see it out there, where there had previously been a blank space. If I can figure out how to do it, I'll put it with this blog. (As you can see, I managed - let me know what you think!)
I also got an e-mail from Stina, my publicist at Transworld. It included a new author questionnaire form. The first page is fine; name, address, phone number, but then it gets complicated. Obviously I've been thinking about things that I'll need to do and ways I can make the book and the experience of writing it interesting, but now I have to put it down in black and white. I have to describe what's at the very heart of the book, talk about its genesis and inspiration, which should be fine, but I also have to tell all about me. What are your greatest achievements? Er, I've written a book ( scratches head to try to think of something else - and fails). As homework exercises go, it's a tough one, but I know how vital it is and i'll get down to it right after this. One area I should be OK is media contacts. I made a list the other night and came up with two dozen names of ex workmates in high places on various newspapers.
One of the things the form asked was whether I'd be comfortable speaking in public. I actually made a speech yesterday for the retiral of my pal Charlie Duncan, who's the associate night editor on The Scotsman. Charlie is a larger than life character and a fantastic all-round journalist and he'll leave an enormous hole now he's gone to spend more time at his weekend abode on the banks of Loch Lomond. I felt pretty good making the speech in front of about fifty people, but you're never sure whether your sounding interesting or not. Everybody laughs in the right places, but is that just out of politeness? I read about a course for writers the other day that teaches you about presentation, and if I can find one up this end of the country I think I'll sign up.
One of the people who follows my progress with a lot of interest is a fellow writer, Guy Saville, who is also a member of Yourwiteon. Guy's novel The Africa Reich was one of the biggest hits on the website - a fantastic read about how different the world would be if Britain and Germany had signed a peace deal and split Africa between them. He's working with his agent to get it published and has come up with a great idea to get it noticed. He's created a website called http://www.africareich.com/ and is asking people to sign up and declare an interest. Please take a look at the site and send in your e-mail address, it's a great book and Guy is a writer whose work definitely deserves to be published.