I promised Olivia – my whip-wielding assistant – that I would write a quick blog before next month gets underway and here it is. The clocks went back today and it feels that winter has finally drawn in. And there’s my old winter coat stretched out on the sofa in my office with my old dog stretched out on top of it. The sun is setting and it’s only 4.00pm! As usual, the year has gone past like an express train (not the most brilliant of comparisons but I’ve just stepped off the Eurostar from Paris so trains are very much in my mind). And why was I in Paris? Read on. Although actually, I’m not entirely sure myself.
I went to Paris for a reunion of secret agents who worked for the SOE, the Special Operations Executive in the second world war. I wrote about the SOE a few years ago in an episode of Foyle’s War and developed a huge admiration for them…they were incredibly resourceful and brave. Nowadays, the survivors are extremely old but still as sharp as knives…in their case the Fairbairn-Sykes double-edged commando knife with eight-inch blade that was developed for their use. I listened to a talk by a saboteur who must have been almost ninety but looked thirty years younger. I also met a lady whose job was to “seduce” SOE agents and see if she could get information out of them. If she succeeded, they were sent home. It was bizarre because I actually created such a character when I was writing Foyle…and here she was for real!
While I’m on the subject of TV, next month COLLISION is being shown on ITV, starting on a Monday and ending on a Friday. I’ve mentioned this programme before and here it is again but I’m really proud of it and hope it’ll do well. When you make TV programmes, so much can go wrong. You get the wrong director or the weather’s bad or you run out of money or whatever. But this time everything went perfectly and I honestly think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. You can expect to read quite a bit of it in the month ahead and there are going to be some big posters too. Let’s just hope it pours with rain so people stay in and watch.
And at more or less the same time (I don’t have the exact dates), I’m setting off on my CROCODILE TEARS tour which takes me to Edinburgh and Birmingham before I head back to London and finally – at the end of the month – Dublin. If you’ve ever been to one of my talks, you’ll know that usually I just walk onto the stage and answer questions for an hour. This time, we’re doing it rather differently. It’s going to be more of an interview with clips from STORMBREAKER, COLLISION and FOYLE’S WAR. The interviewer is a journalist/presenter called Paul Blezard who does a brilliant job. He could make a study of thirteenth century paint drying techniques sound interesting. There’ll still be time for questions from the audience – but it makes it all a bit more varied and, more to the point, less work for me.
I will, of course, be signing copies of CT – and the publishers have come up with a special stamp that’s unique to these events. And I can catch up with my family on the way. My son, Nick, is at university in Edinburgh and my mother-in-law lives in Birmingham so maybe they’ll come along and heckle.
Then I’m off to America, which I mentioned in my July blog. The cities have now been chosen and include Boston, Detroit, St Louis, Raleigh, Atlanta and Washington DC. So many flights! I’ve begun to worry about my carbon footprint which may surprise you but I’ve been researching global warming for my next book – the last in the Power of Five series – and the facts do seem to be rather alarming…which is probably the understatement of the millennium. I’ve also joined something called 10:10 which is a rather smart campaign by The Guardian to get everyone to cut their emissions by 10% in the year 2010. Normally I don’t join campaigns. God help me if I become a do-gooder in my old age (actually, He likes do-gooders so He probably will). But it seemed hard to refuse this one. Apart from anything else, I’ve noticed the water getting closer and closer to my little house in Orford. I used to live beside the sea. Now I seem to live in it…at least some of the time.
And here’s something else that I’ve joined. I’ve become a judge for Divine Chocolate who are running a poetry competition. You have to write a poem (which can be rude, funny, sad, serious, whatever) called “If I owned a chocolate company” and the winners will receive large quantities of chocolate, book tokens and a recording of the poem by me. Since I have a stammer and a lisp, this may not be the best part of it, but I’d say otherwise it’s definitely worth a go. It was my friend, Anne Fine, who introduced me to the competition and I have to say I do absolutely love the chocolate and I suppose I ought to mention (doing good again) that it’s a Fair Trade product and so worth supporting. You can find more details on their website:
I recently judged a short story competition too. The quality of the writing was very high but I have to say that a lot of the entries were rather depressing. Subjects included suicide, self-hatred, cancer, autism and disability…and those were some of the more cheerful ones. I met the winners at a reception at 10 Downing Street and that was rather depressing too. G. Brown looked worn out and miserable. Not surprising, I suppose, given the bashing he gets in the press. Anyway, if you want my advice, if you do write poems, you’ll find something cheerful to say. But then how could owning a chocolate factory not be fun?
Finally, while I’m away, I’m going to be tweeting again. I joined Twitter last year and twittered or tweeted every day for a while but then I got fed up with it. I thought it was getting a bit naff what with people like Jonathan Ross and Stephen Fry even twittering when they tied up their shoelaces. But my American publisher insists that it’s worthwhile and my son Cass is currently on the road in Australia and he may pick up some of my messages so as from today, I’ll be sharing my own trivia with the world once again. If you’re interested, you can follow me on tour.
The next time I write a blog, it’ll be Christmas. In fact, in half the shops in my area, it already is. Sometimes, I’m tempted to throw bricks…
25th October 2009