Monday, 22 June 2009

Countdown to Claudius

Had a great day out at the Borders Book Festival in Harmony Hall at Melrose. It's a wonderful setting and the organisation was superb. I had a question and answer session with about twenty people and an hour passed in no time at all. I only sold a couple of books but it was hopefully a good start to my book festival career.
Alistair Moffat, the organiser is a Kelso man, and I suspect was happy to help out his fellow Borderer. We had a great time at the party when the event was finished. Shetland fiddler Ally Bain entertained everybody in the drawing room at Harmony and the wine flowed. Actor Bill Patterson, a lovely bloke who I had a long blether with in the afternoon, and Jim Naughtie did a duet and very good they were too.
Got back to my friend Sheila's at Fauhope, another beautiful Border house and I'd recommend it to anyone who fancies visiting the area, at 4am!
Three weeks to go until Claudius comes out. Samantha says the book proofs are done and no doubt I'll get some before the end of the week.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Countdown to Claudius

Well, I've done it now. From July 15, I will be a full time writer. The new book deal I got from Transworld coincided with a voluntary redundancy offer to everybody at The Scotsman and I decided to go for it. It was a huge decision after 36 years in newspapers, but I felt a door had opened that I had to walk through. Not to take the chance would have been to spend the rest of my life asking myself 'What if?'

Do I have doubts? Of course I do. I know as well as anyone how difficult it is to make a living from being a writer. Caligula did well, but Claudius will have to do better, and the following books better still. I have about two and a half to three years to make an impact, to be a successful author. In that three years, I have three more books to write, and the fact that I have more time to spend on them will make them better books. It will also let me develop ideas for other books that have been bubbling under.

I couldn't have done this without the support of my family. Alison and my kids, Kara, Nikki and Gregor have backed me all the way. I owe it to them to make this work. Wish me luck!