Wednesday, 16 September 2009


I've had a really good week. Last night I gave a talk on writing and books up at Dunblane Public Library, about four miles from here, for Off the Page, the Stirling Book Festival. I'd been mildly stressed out about it for a couple of days beforehand because I knew I couldn't read a script for an hour and a bit. You always know there's a possibility you might freeze, but I decided to go with a few prompts and just wing it and it worked really well.

We had an audience of about twenty five or thirty and I'm pleased to say they loved it. It seems most writers just plug their books and read from them and it was refreshing to hear someone talk about the nuts and bolts of writing and being published. It was also another indication that the books have a growing fan base because quite a few of the people there had read either of both and were very complimentary about them. Altogether a very successful evening.

A week ago I was in Milngavie talking to a group there and again I got a wonderful reception from people who were obviously interested in the subject and who asked some incredibly perceptive questions, which I love, even when they're challenging.

Hero of Rome went off to Simon on Monday and I'll hear quite soon what he thinks of it. I've a feeling it will need a fair bit of work this time, but I'm up for it. I have a growing sense of obligation to the people who read my books coupled with a real determination to improve as a writer. When you first start writing you more or less only have to please yourself but when people start paying for your work it raises the stakes, you have to be a real professional.

Speaking of which, life away from the hamster wheel of daily journalism is fantastic. I've been putting in the hours at the computer and preparing for my appearances, but today the sun shone lunchtime and I downed tools and set off for walk up to a loch in the Ochil Hills behind Bridge of Allan. It takes you up through some fantastic woods and the views when you reach there are glorious. Huge dragon flies in red, blue and black hovered over the water and the trout were feeding on them. A buzzard soared overhead and I spotted a large hawk that wasn't a kestrel. A few deer were feeding in a faraway field near the little Iron Age hillfort I've developed a fascination for. Sheer magic!

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