September 1, 2010
There’s an interesting interview on the front of the Guardian today with someone who’s memoirs have recently been published … no, not Tony Blair, rehashing the tired old battles of the past. I mean Shaun Attwood, on the front of the Society Guardian, about his book detailing his experiences in ‘America’s Toughest Jail’ (copyright Sheriff Arpaio).
Why do I mention it? Because Shaun just happens to have been my mentee through the Koestler Trust (I am assured this is a real word although I’m suspicious) and I spent just over a year working with him on his book. He’s kind enough to suggest I worked some magic on it, although most of the time I was merely standing on the sidelines while Shaun taught himself to write, making the odd helpful comment rather in the manner of someone watching someone else remove a goat from a fence. But his book, Hard Time, (I preferred Shaun’s original title Green Baloney and Pink Boxers but what do I know about titles*) is out now. I don’t do much plugging of writerly stuff here, as you’ll know, but I’m making an exception in this case. Although having seen how much higher he is up the Amazon ranking than I am …
Anyway, Shaun is also a blogger – it’s how he got started and the reason why the Koestler Trust matched us up in the first place. His has been a fascinating story and I’ve been privileged to see it develop over the time that I’ve known him from a series of scattered and amusing anecdotes into a compelling story about someone who managed to drag himself out of the depths and not just survive but thrive. Go, and have a read.
Right, plug over. Normal service will resume tomorrow…
*especially as I managed to misremember even this one
May 21, 2009
No, not mine, (You’ve already bought mine, right?) but one from Salt Publishing. They’re a fantastic little independent press – and nothing to do with me – who are struggling in the current climate. They concentrate on short stories and poetry and have a bright future – but only if they can survive the gloomy present.
Go on, you know you want to. After all, you’ve already bailed out all of those banks and those car companies with your taxes – and did you get anything in return? This way, you’ll also get a book. And that’s the sort of bail out I can recommend…
March 26, 2009
Despite having a house full of books, I’ve been suffering from the fact that for the last couple of days I’ve had absolutely nothing to read, so today meant an urgent visit to the library. After yesterday, I decided to atone for my sins by taking the bike – helped along by the fact that the other half had taken the car for the day – which gave me an opportunity to try out some of the advice from this book – stuff I all more or less knew, but had become lazy about putting into practice. It certainly helped me tackle the Bigtown traffic with confidence and on the whole, most drivers do seem to react better to (translation: actually notice) an assertive cyclist than one who’s doing their best to ride along in the gutter.
Still, there’s not much the book could do about headwinds so today I learned the hard way that when the Met office says ‘strong to gale force north westerly winds’ this translates in cycling terms as ‘you’ll be coming back into a headwind that will bring you to a standstill in places’. Not helped by the half-a-hundredweight of books I was carrying, and the steady uphill road. It took me half an hour to get into the library and more than an hour to get home. And when I did? I found the postman had been and left me a parcel. From Amazon. Containing books.
February 12, 2009
On Saturday, yes Valentine’s day, I shall be here doing this.
*I’m fairly sure I nicked this line from JonnyB’s Private Secret Diary but it seems to have gone now.
February 6, 2009
A week or so back I finally had my fifteen minutes of fame with a piece in the local paper, complete with the obligatory cheesy local paper photograph of me with my binoculars having apparently gone out for a spot of impromptu birdwatching and absent mindedly (these writer types) taken a copy of my own book with me*. Thus ‘outed’ I found myself, for the first time, actually meeting someone who had seen my picture in the paper and who knew me, first and foremost, as a writer.
I was braced for the (supposedly) usual questions – where do I get my ideas from, do I write with a pen or a pencil, are you writing a sequel – but the only question I actually got was: ‘So, this book of yours, how much is it selling for?’ ‘Six-ninety-nine,’ I was able to reply, as it has finally come out in proper cheapo paperback form. ‘Well, that’s good,’ was the reply. ‘That’s very affordable.’
You know, there was much angst on the radio a few days back that the recent catastrophes with the Royal Bank of Scotland and the like might have damaged the hard won Scottish reputation for prudence with money. Something tells me that it’s going to take more than a few wild bankers to overturn a stereotype that the entire nation seems bent on reinforcing.
Which is all a very long winded way of saying: any Scots out there who have not yet bought ot on cost grounds should click on over to Amazon where it is an even more affordable £4.89 and eligible for free UK delivery to boot.
*The distracted expression you could see on my face was due to having to look at the photographer while I could distinctly hear a woodpecker calling in the trees behind him