Mark Watson Talks A Bit About LifeFlaws Mark Watson Tour 2014Hotel Alpha - the new novel by Mark Watson


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, 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.

28 Responses

  1. Samuel says:

    Thoroughly looking forward to this. Sounds ace. I’m sure you’ll show those ex-publishers of yours. Thanks for cheering me up after the curling and congrats again on the production of a miniature you.

  2. Meg says:

    Ooh, so it is eventually coming out in America? *dances* I might even have some money by then, enough to buy a book at least XD

  3. lisa says:

    sounds great mark :) might have to order it to england and get someone to send it over, dont know if i can wait til 2011! :) x

  4. Elizabeth says:

    If it has that effect on people waiting until August, imagine what us poor bastards in the US France and Germany will be going through!

  5. Ian says:

    Oddly, I DO remember ‘Late Night Love’ with Graham Torrington. I was mildly obsessed with it back in about ’96. That and Mel Everett presenting the top 40.

    Also pre-ordered you book – clearly the slow seeping plan was much more effective on me…

  6. Sarah says:

    Book sounds good but the thing about the blue people, Avatar? Now that sounds great!

  7. Emma says:

    Woah, Graham Torrington! I thought I just dreamt that he existed, because I’ve never heard any mention of him anywhere, ever. I sort of loved to hate him.
    I’m not going to pre-order your book, I’m going to buy it from my delightful local independent bookshop come August. So, every time you look at your ranking on Amazon, you can mentally raise that number by 1 on behalf of me :)

  8. Phill says:

    Looking forward to this, although I probably won’t pre-order it just yet. (there just seems something wrong about pre-ordering something six months in advance. Even for a book by Mark Watson).

  9. Joelle says:

    I’ve told myself that I will learn to have control and wait until it comes out in Australia to buy it. My birthday is in August though. I don’t like my chances of lasting until 2011.
    Enough of me though, I think the book sounds great and I can’t wait to read it as all of your other books are amazing.
    I hope you mean 11 majoy events though as 11 events including drinking some juice could make for quite a story…

  10. Fez says:

    I will read it but I might get the library to order one. Sorry if that cuts your sales numbers but in consideration of “Crap at the Environment” (which I did buy) seems the right thing to do. Any chance of a CATE sequel?

  11. Sam says:

    You mentioned how someone mgiht “overtake them on the motorway, and then 20 years later you’re sitting next to them at a wedding… all that sort of thing.”
    Has anything like that ever happened? And if so how would they know?
    This perplexes me, however if it is answered in your book then I’m expecting great things from the book.

  12. Kevin says:

    Will be sure to pick up a copy when it comes out, and maybe even honour it with a review in my university newspaper. And Phil, as to pre-ordering, this Christmas my mother bought me tickets to a Peter Kay show in the summer of 2011…

  13. Gareth says:

    Geoff Torrington! That’s a blast from the past. Growing up in Frome, I used to listen to him on GWR while I was in bed worrying about the homework I hadn’t done.

    I’m not a pre-orderer, but rest assured I will be buying a copy on publication.

  14. Aislinn says:

    Not pre-ordering?! Screw that! I’ll pre-order it! Now! Yeahh! More exclamation marks!!

  15. Rachael says:

    I imagine Graham Torrington’s voice would be ideal to narrate nightmares.

  16. Gareth says:

    I accidentally wrote Geoff Torrington in my previous comment. Clearly a memorable guy. I must have been thinking of the Whitbread-winning novelist Jeff Torrington, who would have been an interesting and potentially foul-mouthed guest host of Late Night Love.

  17. Tom Beasley says:

    That sounds like an intriguing concept for a novel. As someone who currently has a novel stewing and going nowhere, publishing tips would be a welcome addition to this blog.

  18. Misha says:

    I look forward to this then, having been a big fan of local late night radio for years until they changed to a DJ with a non-soothing voice.

  19. Paul Parry says:

    Elf is good for Germany. In Spain it will be “Once”.

  20. Jacobunny says:

    Sounds like an interesting read. I remember near the end of high school being annoying shits and ringing up conservative older audience talkback shows in the wee hours and making statements/telling stories just to wind up the listeners and laugh at their tirades over the next hour or so…those were the days…now we’ve got kids and watch parliamentary TV and the like. Who’d have thought…

  21. Helen says:

    Hello there,
    Firstly, I have just pre-ordered ‘Eleven’ and am really quite looking forward to getting my hands on a copy. I too am fascinated by the ‘pass on motorway – wedding’ scenario – I love the idea I have alredy walked past/sat next to/admired the scarf of a future friend or partner.

    Also, I am rather fond of this blog and have managed to weave reading it into my daily life. It’s up there with the likes of teeth brushing, talking, tea drinking and typing lists beginning with t. Oh and I hope that all is going well with the baby – congratulations!

    Lastly, I saw the thing you did for the book club tv and thought of one of my favourite words – sesquipedalian = using long words. x

  22. [...] novels that are currently available. You can read more about ELEVEN and Mark Watson on his blog here. Meanwhile, in October 2010, Mark begins a 60-date solo stand-up comedy tour playing to over 90,000 [...]

  23. Rita says:

    I also was a fan of local radio late night listening, until they changed the DJ with a nice, soothing voice- excellent programme as well, with the presenter and friends screeching and talking over one another, which was a switch off for me, I’m afraid – I couldn’t sleep after listening to it.

  24. lisan66 says:

    I know that your book is out by now, but I’m reading all the blogs that I’ve missed, and I was wondering is it available in Ireland? Or do I have to order it from the UK, which will probably work out cheaper anyway?

  25. lisan66 says:

    I know that your book is out by now, but I’m reading all the blogs that I’ve missed, and I was wondering is it available in Ireland? Or do I have to order it from the UK, which will probably work out cheaper anyway?

  26. Jojo says:

    Hey, saw your book advertised in September (i think) issue of Cosmo and the synopsis stuck in my head so I’ve popped it on my xmas list. It better be good!!! Anyway just thought I’d let you know.

  27. [...] usando parole certamente molto più adatte delle mie, la sua idea di destino legata al romanzo. Titolo: Undici Autore: Mark Watson Categoria: Narrativa straniera Pagine: 300 Anno: 2011 [...]

  28. Knox says:

    Being a completely nocturnal fool (case in point – it is now 3.14 am…) I love that the central character is a late night DJ. Reminded me of listening to and interacting with Shaun Keaveny when he still did the late night show on 6 music, a dj called Xan Phillips down in Portsmouth, another guy in Tonbridge, Matt Younge, and the most awesome of late night djs, Bob Harris.

    I loved how willing they all would be to actually properly interact with listeners (or maybe I was just very persistent) and how their shows had this intimate and friendly feel that you just don’t get from shows on at any other time of the night.

    This time last year, I remember being hugely impatient for ‘eleven’ to finally come out. Having read it now, I want to go back to just the moment before I started it, so I can read it all again, not knowing the twists, the characters, nor how it all turns out. Such an amazing book. I won’t go off on one again here – suffice to say, I loved it, immensely.

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