I’ve still got a baby. He’s one day old. I can’t keep blogging about that every day though, or I’ll become one of these people who endlessly bang on about a common experience which they seem to feel nobody else has ever had. The last thing anyone wants from this blog is for it to become self-serving and arrogant. So let’s talk about my new book. Haha.
I’ve been uneasy about raising the subject of my novel directly, because I don’t want the whole of this blog to seem like an excuse for a clumsy series of plugs. At the same time, I’d really like people to read the book, and it seems perverse to gloss over that desire out of some English instinct to become all coy and mutter ‘sorry, I’ve written a book, I admit it, but by all means let’s pretend it never happen, I can only apologise.’ So, as a compromise, I thought I’d do an occasional series of blogs talking about the book, what led me to write it, how I wrote it, what it’s like trying to get a book published, whether I hate anyone in particular in the publishing industry, and so on. This way I’m implicitly advertising it, but in the guise of a nice pleasant chat rather than heartless salesmanship. See?
To start with, the basics. The book is called ‘Eleven’. The main character lives at number 11 and roughly eleven important things happen in it. It’ll be published in the UK in August (you can already order it at tiny.cc/elevenmarkwatson, though, and it would be idle to pretend that I wouldn’t love you to do just that). Then in 2011 it’ll come out in Australia, the US, France and Germany - where, amusingly, I imagine its title will be translated as ‘Elf’.
The story is all about a late-night radio DJ who hosts one of these shows where people phone in and talk about their problems. You might remember ‘Late Night Love’ with the silky-voiced Graham Torrington, or have listened to an old guy talking about his collection of stag beetles to a weary presenter at 2am, while driving home from Edinburgh. I’ve always been fascinated both by the massive range of human activity which continues while we’re all meant to be asleep, and by the strange ways that our little lives all relate to each other – you hear someone on the radio, or overtake them on the motorway, and then 20 years later you’re sitting next to them at a wedding… all that sort of thing.
So the book is partly about that, and partly about facing up to your darkest regrets, which is what the main character is forced to do as the story unfolds. I’m not going to say too much more about the ‘themes’ of the book, because there’s no surer way to make something sound shit than to say ‘well, it’s sort of about this and sort of about that.’ Reservoir Dogs: ‘well, it’s about these guys and there’s some shooting’. Avatar: ‘well, it’s about these blue people’. War And Peace: ‘well, there’s this war’. And so on. But I will continue to drip-feed morsels of information into your bloodstream like this, until, come August, it is physiologically impossible for you not to get the book, and you end up committing violence to lay hands on a copy. Think of the publicity. Mmm.
Well, it ended up being quite brazen, this first instalment of book-plugging. But I’ve got quite a lot invested in its success; invested emotionally, that is, not literally – it’s not one of those situations where someone pays for their own book to be published. It did nearly come to that at one point. But that’s another story. More on this next week. There’s absolutely no pressure to go to Amazon and look it up. But you could just let the idea very gradually start to sink into your brain.