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Thursday, 27 September 2007

Squeaky bum time

I'm up to 11 fans on my Facebook fansite now. Eleven. Onze. Elf. Once. Undici. Whichever way you say it, it doesn't get any bigger. Come on guys. This is getting serious now. Here's a bribe. My publication party is going to be on 29th October in London - I still have a few spare tickets if you'd like to come. Just drop me a line.

Anyway, a little over two weeks to go until the publication of The Gilded Seal and the sleepless nights have started in earnest. You would have thought that after a few books, I'd be a bit more chilled about the whole thing, but if anything, it's got worse with each book.

Maybe that's because I had no real expectations for how The Double Eagle would do at all - to be honest, I was just grateful it was on the shelf. When it sold well I was both surprised and excited. But these feelings were soon tempered by the realisation that its unforeseen success had subtly changed the rules of the game. Naive enthusiasm was no longer a viable strategy - instead, I had stepped into a quicksand of insecurity and stress that seems to rise a little higher with every book.

By the time it came to publishing The Black Sun, therefore, my youthful insouciance had been replaced by a dry-throat, sweaty palms and daily calls with my publisher about the pre-order numbers and whether they were any good. And needless to say, as soon as it was out, I was checking on my Amazon author rankings every hour, on the hour, to see how things were going - oh look, I've moved form 3,523 to 3,428. Yippee.

Now, with The Gilded Seal I seem to have translated my nervousness into insomnia and an inexplicable craving for Jaffa Cakes. Is this what it's like to be pregnant, I wonder?

Actually, that's not quite such a fanciful idea as it may seem (ignoring the stretch marks, bleeding gums, occasional incontinence and violent mood swings, of course.) You see, the really stressful thing about an impending publication / birth is not the sales numbers (although God knows I could do with the cash!) but the thought of releasing this fragile young creature that I have conceived, created and nurtured through a difficult childhood, into the lawless, uncertain jungle of the high-street to fend for itself amidst sharp-fanged reviewers and an apathetic media. Anyone who's seen the Discovery Channel will know that nature can be very cruel.

Having said all that, The Gilded Seal's prospects are good. In fact they're very good if you believe the early feedback I have been getting from a couple of reviewers and journalists who have been sent advance copies. Bruce my editor, says it's the best one yet and I'm just praying he's right. Anyway, ultimately the only opinion that counts is yours, so you'll have to let me know what you think when you finally get your hands on a copy.

Now I'm off to lay awake for six hours grinding my teeth until I fall asleep an hour before my alarm goes off...

Sometimes I wonder why I got into this crazy game!

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Fan Club

Now I don't normally like to blow my own trumpet (although I knew someone at school who was double jointed and used to smugly claim that he could) but in this case I couldn't resist.

Yes, it's official, I have a fan club. And no it wasn't set up by my mum. It's on the stupidly popular Facebook and was set up by my one celebrity fan, Ben Peyton. If you watch The Bill or Casualty, you'll know who I mean. Oh yes, I don't just have any old riff-raff fans you know! Nothing but the best for you.

Now for the bad news. Despite Ben's best efforts, at the last count it only had 7 members. Yes that's right, seven. And one of those is my mum! So come on people, throw me a bone here. Sign up to my fan club please, as this is now getting rather embarrassing.

You need to be registered on Facebook - once in, simply search under James Twining - Unofficial Fan Club and then follow the instructions to join. I've no idea what treats Ben has in store for you once there - you'll have to wait and see...


How quickly things change. Having boasted of my manly DIY prowess last week, I have suffered an debilitating reversal of fortune in the virility stakes. I have lost my mobile phone.

Actually, to be more accurate, my wife lost it. But that's hardly the point. I feel like a knight without a horse, a sharpshooter without a gun, Indiana Jones without his hat. My whole life was in that bloody thing and now it's probably half way to Nigeria with a container load of flat screen TVs and printer cartridges.

Mobile phones are unique for their size being inversely proportional to their desirability - the smaller and thinner they are, the sexier. And believe me mine was tiny, not to mention equipped with phenomenal staying power (battery life) - the sort of phone that had women blushing every time I flopped it out onto the bar.

It's replacement, in contrast, has stripped away my mojo - it's the size of a brick and equipped with with the world's smallest (black and white) screen and massive keys that seem to have been designed to help children learn to count. I've heard of retro chic, but this is ridiculous - it's a museum piece. Not to mention the embarrassment caused when I put it in my back pocket yesterday - I'm reliably informed that the tell-tale posterior bulge made it look like I'd had an unfortunate accident.

Oh joy.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Man Sized

God I feel virile! Not in a rip her knickers off and ride her bareback sort of way (at least no more than usual). I'm talking about a much more basic, instinctive, hunter-gatherer sort of virility. The sort that drinks beer, farts a lot, finds the word "bottom" funny, watches endless repeats of Buffy (or is that just me?) and can, whatever the time, city or state of inebriation, navigate unerringly to the nearest kebab van. I'm talking about being a man.

You see my wife had this brilliant idea. "Let's stay at home this summer," She suggested. "We can spend some time in the garden and go on some nice day trips in and around London. It'll be fun." And then to clinch it. "We'll save some money."

I don't think she could have been any more wrong. Summer. What summer? It rained almost non-stop for the whole two weeks I took off. The only time we set foot in the garden was to check that next door's cat hadn't drowned in the paddling pool. And as for saving money, it would have been cheaper to fly all four of us first class to the Seychelles. You see when the weather's that bad, a shopping mall is the only place you can get out of the house and stay dry. So my wife has finally got the new sitting room furniture she'd been angling for all year. In fact, now I think about it, I wonder if that wasn't the plan all along ...

Not that the two weeks were entirely wasted. It was brilliant to spend time with the girls and I, thank God, slowly inched my way towards having the vague outline of a story and characters for Book 4 which I'm getting quite excited about. Hooray. Plus I finally got round to all those annoying little jobs I'd been putting off - repainting the front gate, varnishing the back door, repairing the guttering, rerouting a waste pipe. I bet you never knew I was so handy! I even, after one particularly violent downpour had left an inch of water lapping against my french windows, resolved to clean my drains which were quite clearly blocked.

I tackled this with my father-in-law who assured me it would be easy. That was until we popped the manhole cover. We found three feet of foul and dark water, peopled by sleek brown shapes that were nosing their way through swirling icebergs of rotten tissue paper like seals. The smell made me heave and it was all I could do not to stumble head first into the gaping opening. My instinct was to call for Dyno-ripoff but then some deeper, primitive urge took over. No. I didn't need any help. I could protect my family from the rising tide of the turd army myself.

We went out a brought a rodding set which I assembled and fed into the opening. A couple of firm thrusts and I broke through, the drain spasming as it emptied its contents with a wild, sucking noise. I glanced up at the house exultantly, a strange glow washing over me as I saw my family staring at me proudly through the glass. Was this, I wondered, what it felt like when you brought home a fresh kill to your cave or fought off a raid from a neighbouring village? Turds banished. House safe. £120 saved. Job done.

It took two days to wash the smell off me. It was worth it.

P.S. Publication date in the UK for The Gilded Seal is October 15th. Anyone fancy coming to the launch party in London? Let me know and we'll see what I can do.