I can still remember the heady mixture of exhilaration, excitement, anticipation and, let's face it, pure terror, in the days leading up to my book launch for Caligula in 2008. It was a venture into the complete unknown, like walking blindfold down a busy street filled with pitfalls and possibilities. On the one hand, there were no worries about success or failure, because having a book published was success enough. On the other, it's the nearest thing to putting your newborn up in a fairground coconut shy.
Imagine what it's like doing it with twins.
Defender of Rome, the second in my Valerius Verrens series, and The Doomsday Testament, my first venture into thriller writing as James Douglas, will be launched on Wednesday at a party in Edinburgh (6.30pm at Blackwell's, 53 South Bridge if you can make it). To be honest, I've been so busy finishing the first draught of my next book and shamelessly plugging these ones that I haven't had time to think about it. But with three days to go the adrenalin is kicking in. The terror has been replaced by a mild case of nerves. Apart from that it's much the same.
Experience has taught me to keep my expectations low and my hopes high. With Caligula anything seemed possible. I know now that being an author is about patience: about building an audience and always striving to make the next book better than the ones that went before. And yet ...
For a debut book Doomsday has created quite a stir. It's already into its third printing and it'll be on sale in all the big supermarkets - a first for me and one which opens up a lot of interesting possibilities. Ask me what I'd hope for Defender and I'd say enough advance sales (it takes about two thousand) to get into the hardback Top Ten for the first time.
It doesn't matter how much you try to keep your feet on the ground, a writer always has his head in the clouds.