Thursday, April 22, 2010

Yer tea's oot!

It’s penguin suit time tonight. The annual evening of backstabbing, fistfights, hypocrisy and prodigious drinking that is the Scottish Press Awards take place at a city hotel.

A brilliant piece of planning means that the good, the great and the greedy of Scottish journalism gather at 7 and there will be no food served until 9. I’d loved to have heard the discussion process on that one. “We’ll get them there at 7, have the awards and then a lovely meal at 9. What could possibly go wrong?”

Guess what this is a recipe for... take a large banqueting hall, add a couple of hundred Scots journalists, a few hundred bottles of wine, assorted beers and spirits, a two hour time frame, empty stomachs and a succession of deadly dull awards.

Got it? Yes, it’s a recipe for disaster. It will be carnage.

The last time I attended– the time after which I swore I’d never go again – I disgraced myself by asking a particularly irritating award winner outside to discuss the finer points of fisticuffs after he failed to respond to more gentle requests to shut up and go away. I rounded off the night by telling my editor exactly what was wrong with the newspaper and why most of it was his fault. I told him this despite him politely asking me not to on three occasions. It seemed like a good idea at the time. It wasn’t.

Tonight there will pomposity, obsequiousness, aggression, drunkenness, more aggression and the inevitable bit of one two buckle my shoe. And then there will be food.

Tomorrow, bacon rolls and brown sauce. On prescription.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Book signing, signing books

It’s a pretty strange deal being a sort of author. I used to think I wouldn’t consider myself a proper one until I was actually published but now that I have been I’m waiting until it’s translated into Portuguese and made into a movie starring Danny DeVito. At the moment it feels like a two-sizes too big jumper that I’ll need to grow into.

People ask questions to which I have no idea what the answers are. Things like “how are sales going?” or “when will the second book be finished?”. How am I supposed to know?

That’s not say that I know nothing. I know that trying to do a day job and complete a book to deadline is hard work. I know that what seems like a good plotline at midnight is likely to appear duff at breakfast. I know that I have no time for breakfast. I know that David Cameron is mutton dressed as ham but that’s not entirely relevant.

I’ve also learned the difference between a book signing and signing books. The former is something that is done by proper authors, the latter is what the likes of me do. It involves a book and a pen but does not involve interaction with human beings. The publicity team arranged signings at various Waterstones and I had vague ideas of an orderly queue of people forming and me asking if it is Cathy with a C or a K (whether their name was Cathy or not). It’s not like that. You sign a pile of books and the shop stacks them and sells them. Glitzy it ain’t but it’s a suitable antidote for an inflating ego.

On Monday I went to HarperCollins warehouse in Bishopbriggs to be a faced with a table groaning under the weight of 350 books needing a signature. The very sight of so many copies of Random threw me a bit, having never previously seen more than a dozen together in one place. An hour and a half later, the table was no longer groaning but I was. In the process, I learned something else new – that a hardback book is a bad back book. Two hundred of them were hardbacks for a specialist collector shop and so had to be dated as well as signed. Trying to remember the date and write it at speed isn’t as easy as you’d think. Well, not once your brain turns to mush.

Anyway, I’m writing this blog entry while waiting for a cop to phone me about a serial killer, a real one. This is the bit where I have to be careful to distinguish between fact and fiction…

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Why doesn't it always rain on me?

It’s a wet old day in Raintown. Raining down on all those tired eyes and tears and frowns. You know it’s a wet Tuesday when you find yourself quoting Deacon Blue lyrics.

It’s not all bad though. When Glasgow is grey and miserable, i.e. 83% of the time, then it’s much more conducive to crime writing. The remaining 17% when the sun shines and all is warmth, sweetness and light then it is harder to conjure up the image of the victim face down on the pavement or the blood leaking into a gutter on Argyle Street.

Today, no such problem. All is puddles, potholes and pissing down. My mind’s eye sees bleakness, bodies and blood. It’s great.

I’m currently about halfway through the follow-up to Random and this evening will be spent on pursuits of kidnap and casual murder. I’m considering a bullet through the head in front of the new(ish) flats at Glasgow Harbour although other venues are available on request. There’s something about death juxtaposed with regeneration (but hopefully not quite as arsey as that sounds) that is pretty interesting. New builds but still the same old Glasgow. Let’s face it, you can’t beat the romance of a murder in the shadow of the Finnieston Crane.

My main character in the second book is a police photographer and a miserable day on Clydeside is his perfect landscape. In fact the more misery the better as far as he is concerned. He prefers to shoot in black and white and the beauty of a day like this is that everything in the city is already monotone. He’s Oscar Marzaroli with a taste for photographing blood. Nice guy though.

Happy and glorious, long to rain over us, doggone Glasgow.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Roll on lunchtime

You really should be able to get bacon rolls with brown sauce on the NHS. Having woken on day two of authordom with a hangover courtesy of overly celebrating day one, there was only one possible cure. Nothing else, except the unavailable option of more sleep, would do the trick.

Bacon rolls are a panacea for all alcohol-induced illnesses with the possible exception of liver disease. I don’t know if it is the bacon, the roll or the brown sauce but I’m pretty sure that complete efficacy can only be achieved by the combination of all three. Scientists should do tests.

Look, it is a basic tenet of the National Health Service to provide medical treatment “free for all who want to use it”. I want to use it. I want not to have a hangover. I want bacon rolls. It’s why Nye Bevan set the NHS up in the first place.

Feeling politically disenfranchised as I am, I offer this opportunity and advice to all parties. Make bacon rolls with brown sauce available on prescription and you will get my vote and the votes of millions of others. I say all parties but this offer does not extend to the Conservatives. My hangover’s not that bad.