|On special offer for 7 days!|
First though, let me flag up a birthday gift in reverse. I'm giving something away. Well, almost. Bird of Passage is going to be on a Kindle countdown deal (that means it's cheap, albeit not very cheerful) for the next seven days, on Amazon in the UK here and in the US here. That's from 3rd - 9th December. If you find yourself reading this later on, I'm sorry you missed it but there will be others. There's sometimes a small delay with implementing these deals, so if you go to the page today, the 3rd December, and find that it's still at full price, do try again later!
|An Irish Industrial School|
here and pretty much on all other platforms as well. This is a small book, but a big step for me, because I'm in such very good company with some fine writers in this series of eBooks. In conjunction with this, the Good Housekeeping website has published a longish interview with me - 20 interesting questions for me to answer - and very enjoyable it was too! I hope you find the answers quite illuminating as well. You can find it on their Lifestyle pages along with all kinds of lovely Christmassy things.
Finally - and perhaps saving the best till last from my point of view, anyway - my new historical novel The Physic Garden is due to be published in March 2014 by Scottish Publisher of the Year, Saraband. (You can read all about their award here.)
I'm more than a little ecstatic about this, as you can imagine. Somebody asked me last week if it was my 'first book' and I had to reply, with a sigh, that no, it wasn't. I did a bit of arithmetic in my head and still got confused. But it will be my eighth full length novel, of which some were traditionally published, while some I published myself in eBook form. Besides that, there are a couple of published non fiction histories - one of them an enormous labour of love called God's Islanders - a whole clutch of professionally produced and published stage plays, and several collections of short stories, most of which have been published in magazines. Plus a couple of poetry collections from way back. I sometimes get tired just thinking about it all. But I'm the epitome of a 'hybrid' writer and I'm enjoying it.
I was speaking to a group of postgraduate Creative Writing students at the University of Glasgow last week. I had been invited to speak alongside a couple of representatives from the Society of Authors about the (considerable) benefits of joining. You sometimes walk a fine line between trying to tell people about the realities of a career as a writer and your desire not to disillusion people. After all, most writers could no more give up writing than they could give up breathing. But I do try to tell people that a writing career is - with a very few lucky exceptions - a switchback, a massive game of snakes and ladders. One year you're up, the next you're down. But if you do find yourself at the bottom of a long and hideous snake, at least you know that there might be a ladder at the next throw.
Meanwhile, my experience with Saraband has been overwhelmingly positive. They produce the most beautiful books. Plus they gave me a brilliant editor. The novel didn't need much editing at all, thank goodness, but the points the editor made went straight to the heart of the few doubts I had and showed me how they might be addressed. I'd almost forgotten what a pleasurable experience it can be to work with a good editor, who loves your book.
The Physic Garden is a about friendship and betrayal, about new developments in medicine and the tensions between 'physic' and surgery - but above all, it's about the lifelong effects of treachery on William Lang, the narrator. I loved William. Still do. Even when I was writing the book, even though I was well aware that I was writing in the persona of an old man, remembering a long life, remembering the events of his youth in particular, it still felt oddly as though I were channelling him. I knew what he would say and how he would say it. I knew what he was thinking. It was one of those pieces of writing (I find it happens more with plays than with novels) where you read it afterwards and think 'I wonder where all that came from?'
|The Old College of Glasgow University.|
I'm told the proof copies are with the printer! Excited? Moi? You bet!