With the weather now at almost Biblical levels I’ve been sitting indoors and staring at my second novel, it has the working title of Resolution. Though, that’s a misnomer as it’s not really working at all at the moment. I look at it and it looks back at me like a peeved cat might. I thought I’d wrestled one new chapter to the floor, but it sprang back up at me like Jackie Chan and punched me in the throat. That paragraph, I thought as I went over like badly stacked cards, is missing something. It still is, I considered throwing my Mac across the room in a fit of pique, but it’s been years since I’ve been that drunk so I simmered quietly instead and then went to the fridge and drank a tin of beer shaped like a tiny barrel and then I sighed.
It’s not all doom and gloom (unless you’re at the sharp end of this latest weather front because that’s literally what it is) though as the feedback on CCMS has been nothing short of dreamlike this far. Most of my friends have loved it (but then they are my friends) and Nicky Wire of the Manics described it thus: Cross Country Murder Song is 245 pages of dark – Welsh – disturbing – romantic – America splendor while his singer James volunteered that he never knew I was such a dark soul. Phill Jupitus was too kind for words too, but I’ll save his remarks and my blushes. Actually, talking of Wire, and I was, he and I will be at the Laugharne Festival in Wales on the 10th and 11th April next year. I’ll be reading on the Saturday and hosting a Q&A onstage with Nicky on the Sunday. We’ll be talking books, lyrics, poetry, art and the essence of being Welsh. Possibly. I’m also having a book launch in London in February too at which Phill and I will be reading and also playing some of our favourite tunes. Please don’t get too excited as your name’s not down and you certainly aren’t coming in. Hence my discretion in the where and the when. And I’m also reading at the Green Man festival next August, come down and throw fruit at me and tell me my book’s almost certainly overrated, I’ve got it coming. Or I will have, I’ll think I’m Hemingway by then and will be sporting a jumper and beard to match. (I will be doing neither of those things). The bound proof of the book went off to America on Friday to see if an American story written by a Taff can hold its own in the land of the free. More news on that when we get it. I could use the money and the affirmation.
On the domestic front, I do have one, I’m moving in with a girl (heaven forfend) and about to get rid of most of my books and CDs (get in touch if you’d like some and don’t expect me to send it to you as some morons have suggested). It’s long overdue. My library has sat unread in my shed for about five years now so it would only mean lugging my extensive collection of literature and music back across London before finally tipping it in the Thames. I mean, who has that kind of time? I’m already looking forward to 2010, new home, first novel, being roundly damned by critics and my fellow man and my face all over Waterstones, I’ll be bad, I’ll be nationwide…
I’m currently on deadline, consequently, I’m doing anything but meeting them. It’s been a busy week or so, I’ve signed off on the final book proof and never want to see another copy of CCMS as long as I live (or early January when I get finished copies). Things came to a pleasant head – sounds dirty, isn’t – last Thursday when I went to Random House to pick up thirty copies of the advanced bound proof. I’d always wanted one ever since I was given a Cormac McCarthy proof when I was a producer at BBC GLR (now BBC London, that was where I met Richard Ford too, but that’s a story for another time). Seeing my own press release (with an excerpt and some very personal notes on) and my name in print made me feel fuzzy and odd. I hate to sound like a boy band lyric, but it’s truly fucked up when you’re dreams come true – N’Sync sang it, you can get it on iTunes. It’s the closest I’ll come to my literary heroes so in keeping with tradition I went out and got drunk. Things got a little hazy after that, but I do remember getting home and attempting to sign a book (I was excited, let me be!), I made such a mess of it that it looked like a crime scene if the victim’s blood had been black. I’ve quietly filed that copy away and it’ll be mine forever.
Other advance copies are now out in the big wide world, my friend at Shortlist and Stylist (who currently has swine flu, true story) called to tell me that her book had arrived and I felt strangely saddened to hear that something that had been mine for so long was now out of reach and that other people could see it. I’m not sure what I thought Jonathan Cape were going to do with the manuscript, but I imagined a a glittering, giant safe where they locked the brightest and the best away. So now the press have it, my friends have it – worse in its own way – and there’s nothing I can do about it but wait.
But let’s not get all weepy. Waterstone’s called or wrote or sent a pigeon or whatever it is that Waterstone’s do when they come down off their literary mount and speak to people at the office to say that they wanted to promote the book front of house and in their 3 for 2 promotion in all of their stores nationwide. Apparently, this is quite the big deal. The staff at Random House put on paper hats and sent me a photo of them all holding their thumbs aloft like a hundred young Paul McCartneys. I’ve framed it and I’m looking at it now as I write; it looks like the saddest Christmas party I’ve ever seen. That aside, I went to see Jupitus in Hairspray, he was a fucking revelation. I kid you not, I was both tumescent and weepy, we drank coffee later and got a little emotional over the fact that we’d both done exactly what we set out to do at the end of our torrid time at 6 Music. Not that it was torrid all the time, but that last year was about as much fun as having a nail pushed through your tongue, unless you like that sort of thing, we don’t. Anyway, I have some downtime now, book wise at least, so this week I’ll interview Andy Serkis about playing Ian Dury and then on Saturday I’m off to watch Wales play the All Blacks in Cardiff with the Manics. I know, very tough life. More news soon, maybe even some about the Perfect Ten…