It's my party ...
Interesting event the other night at the Guildford Book Festival, where I was on a panel with Christopher Fowler and Patrick Gale. Where were you?
The topic was "From small beginings" and no, before you ask, this wasn't about erectile dysfunction disorder, but rather the influence of importance of our childhood reading on our writing today. I have to be honest and admit that this wasn't something I'd thought about until about two minutes before I stepped onto the stage. My fellow panellists were rather better prepared and certainly better read - I hadn't heard of half the stuff they mentioned and Patrick Gale gave me a look caught somewhere between contempt and envy when I mentioned that I had mainlined Enid Blyton for years as a kid.
I have post-facto created a list of my top eleven (ten was so 2008) childhood books. I'm going to define childhood as the years prior to me buying the Sam Fox edition of Mayfair. It's my blog so I can do what I want:
Anyway, onto more serious things. The Geneva Deception is out there, although I was reminded the other day that it's official launch date isn't until next week. Does that make me like the Queen with two birthdays, or Elton John (one's THE queen, the other's a queen), who came out ages before he actually "came out".
- The Treasure Seekers, by Enid Blyton - if you haven't read it, you wouldn't understand
- How things work - genius book with cross-sections of ships and pyramids and skyscrapers which showed you, quite literally, how things work
- That book about dinosaurs with the blue and yellow cover and a T-Rex on the front - memory getting a little hazy here, but it was good
- 1956 Lion annual (see picture) - I particularly remember the story about a couple of plucky Tommy's giving Jerry the slip by discovering a secret tunnel behind a fireplace
- The illustrated Bible - Great stories, gory pictures. Fiction writing at its best. (ooohhh - contraversial!)
- Anything by Roger Lancelyn Green - King Arthur, Robin Hood etc.
- French graphic novels - Oh yes, I was quite the cosmopolitan so and so, aged 8. Well that and the fact that I was brought up in France might have had something to do with it - Tintin, Asterix, Gaston Lagaffe, Largo Winch, Blake and Mortimer to name but a few
- Danny the Champion of the World, by Roald Dahl - always much preferred this to C&CF, BFG, J&GP etc.
- Some book by Richard Scarry where on each page you had to try and find the little yellow duck or something - used to keep me amused for hours when my father would turn the page saying, "well there isn't one on this page" and I'd say "Yes there is, yes there is!" and frantically turn the page back ... you get the picture
- Another book, whose name I can't remember - God this list really is self-indulgent twaddle isn't it - but that showed you basic spycraft like how to write invisible ink, do a dead letter drop etc. Vital skills for any eleven year olds
- The Valley of Adventure, by Enid Blyton - a second entry by Ma Blyton, but it is what it is. Loved that book and the cheeky parrot.
Either way things going well so far. First 3 days of sales were very good, in fact, so here's hoping things continue on the same track. Launch party set for Thursday next week with special appearances by Essex poet Ryan Child (you'd be amazed how many words rhyme with Matalan) and singer / songerwriter Georgia Strand.
Can you make it? A few invites available for selected faithful / attractive fans - just drop me a line. And yes, Mum, I guess you can come along too.
Births, Deaths and Marriages
The Geneva Deception, a novel, weighing 12 ounces. Born October 15 2009 to proud father James Twining of Islington, London. A brother to The Double Eagle, The Black Sun and The Gilded Seal.
Blink and you'll miss it
As Harper Collins's PR wheels grind into motion in the weeks running up to the publication of The Geneva Deception - sorry I mean accelerate up to 88 miles an hour just as the lightening strikes the clock tower - a word of thanks to Emma Walsh, the President (and as far as I know sole member) of my Irish fan club, who continues to work her subtle magic when it comes to unofficially promoting my books.
Take the photo to the right, extracted from a recent article for which she was interviewed. Blink and you'll miss it, but look again and you'll see my name top right, where she has strategically positioned the spine of one of my books for maximum "bling, in ya' face, wattcha lookin' at mofo" impact.
Talk about subliminal. If I was a chocolate bar, this picture would probably have been banned by the ASA because tens of thousands of kids would have been inexplicably raiding their piggy banks and rushing out and buying KitKats. Actually if I was a chocolate bar, I'd like to be a Crunchie. Or maybe a Lion bar. It's tough to choose.
But I'm not a chocolate bar. I'm a writer with a new book coming out in a few weeks. Buy it.
I don't do subliminal.
They say the mark of a good haircut is when you can't tell whether someone has had one or not. Well on that basis, my website has just had the equivalent of a colour and trim by Vidal Sassoon.
There is a scene in Brideshead Revisted, I can't quite remember now which, when Cousin Jasper warns Charles Ryder that he will spend his second year trying to lose all the friends he made in his first. So it was with my website. I stuck in all these pages and features a few years ago that no-one ever really looked at or used and which in the end became a real pain in the a** to maintain. The most recent entry in my "Latest News" section, for example, was a signing at Chorleywood bookshop in 2006... 'Nuff said.
So while the website pretty may look pretty much the same to you, a whole bunch of useless stuff has been lopped off and now things like the mail form actually work. Plus you can stick in your email address to sign up to to get a fresh steaming pile of this blog into your inbox every time I post and there is an entirely new section on soon to be published New York Times #1 bestseller (hey, might as well aim high!) The Geneva Deception. Most importantly, at least from my perspective, editing the site is no longer like cutting a lawn with nail scissors.
The man responsible for my makeover? Rick Siedle. Sign him up quickly before all the Hollywood A-listers start flying him out to do LA for a short back and sides on Oscar night.