Friday, February 02, 2007

Serious Things

Groan - another doom and gloom post about climate change?

Not this time. Serious Things is the title of my new novel. I finished it on Monday. It now goes through the mill of early readers, who will doubtless inform me that it's incoherent, psychologically implausible, and full of factual errors.

These early readers are important people. The first are my parents. My mother reads slowly and with great precision; she is the more literary of the two. My father, a doctor, comes at things with a scientific mindset. His task is to submit my writing to the Narcolepsy Test. Let me explain. At the end of a hard day at the surgery, my dad is tired. He falls asleep in front of the accumulated atrocities of the 10 o'clock news. I don't blame him for this: I would nod off, too, if I had to apply myself to a proper job. Still, it means that something - a news report or a book - has to be fairly riveting if it is to keep his eyelids parted. My father's task is to see whether my writing can keep him awake. If it succeeds, I'm on to a winner.

My third reader is my girlfriend, who has the unenviable task of reading the typescript in close proximity to its author. Her only consolation is said author's servile, fawning behaviour throughout the ordeal. I am always at hand with cups of tea, pieces of toast smeared just so with butter and Marmite, vigorously fluffed cushions, earnest and thorough foot rubs. Emma puts up stoically with these ministrations. As an academic - and an accomplished writer - she has a great ear for cliches, stock phrases, muddled metaphors. She can sniff out a bum note like the most efficient truffle-hound in Perigord. I am hoping she will not find too many horrors in Serious Things.

After these intimate readers comes the next wave: my agent, Isobel Dixon, who in the gentlest manner possible takes no prisoners, and a barrister pal of mine who is also writing a novel and will no doubt point out to me that the police procedure and legal stuff at the end is all a pile of tosh.

My gratitude goes to these dear people. Along with a plea for pity.

Once I have market-tested my novel, it will be sent to my editor for a final pummelling. And then begins the year-long wait for the indifferent shrugs of reviewers.

For more information about Serious Things (you know, its plot and stuff) please visit my website at some point in the near future.


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