I recently wrote a handful of guest posts as part of a blog tour for my latest book. The posts featured on a number of book blogs and I thought I might as well post them here, too. So, I’ll stick one up every week. Here’s the first.
1. I’ve written about some pretty odd things
I’ve been a professional writer for 20 years. I started out writing for magazines, and I’ve had various other editorial jobs since then. I’ve written about everything from wacky sports to facilities management, industrial flooring, cloud computing, mobile phones, gadgets and even electricity pylons. And I once wrote an agony aunt column from the point of view of Elvis Presley’s ghost.
2. I wrote my first book in a cupboard
The first flat my wife and I rented together had a cupboard just big enough to fit a small desk. So, I quickly transformed it into the smallest office ever. I spent many hours in there, writing the majority of my first book, The Unexpected Vacation of George Thring and much of my second book, Killing Dylan. There were no windows, so it got very hot in the summer.
3. I do lots of reading with my ears
By which, of course, I mean that I listen to lots of audiobooks. I think there’s still a bit of a stigma about audiobooks (as if it’s not really reading), but I love them. They’re a great way to pass the time, especially during a long car journey or commute. And with a great narrator, the book really comes to life. One thing I don’t get, though – abridged versions. Why would you want a cut down version of the book? I want the whole thing!
4. I’ve been to Germany twice (and both times were weird)
A company once invited me to Frankfurt for a job interview – which I didn’t get. They flew me out there, the interview went pretty badly and then I flew home. I was literally only in the country for about four hours. The other time was when I was editor of the imaginatively title The Flooring Magazine (no prizes for guessing what it was about). I was flown out to Hamburg for a tour of a laminate flooring factory. I suspect I have yet to see the real beauty of the country.
5. I enjoy a bit of running
I’m no extreme athlete, but I’ve done a few 10k runs in the last few years. It has come in handy for inspiration, and I used some of my experiences for the part in my new book, 46% Better Than Dave, where the main character has to do an extreme race. He gets a much rougher time than I did, though.
6. I’ve tickled a penguin
My wife is a bit of a crazy penguin lady. She loves them. So, for her birthday one year, I took her to London Zoo, where you can pay to go in with the penguins and stroke them. It was actually quite good fun. Although, the penguins do seem to enjoy sneaking up behind you and biting your bum – which is quite sore.
7. Elvis came to my wedding
Okay, not the real Elvis. But rather than having a standard DJ or band, we took inspiration from my first book – in which the main character ends up in a town full of Elvis impersonators – and we hired an Elvis impersonator to perform at the wedding. He serenaded us during our first dance and was a real hit with all the guests.
8. I’ve been on TV three times
And none of them were particularly auspicious. First, I was once in the audience on early morning talk show Kilroy (you definitely need to be of a certain age to remember it). I was right at the back and it was a real blink-and-miss-it appearance. Secondly, I was on the BBC news – slightly drunk outside a nightclub in the background of a news feature. And finally, whilst working in a previous job as a magazine editor, I somehow ended up in a BBC documentary called WAGs to Riches.
9. I’ve never read a Stephen King book
Yep, that’s probably a bad thing for a writer to admit, considering he’s arguably the most successful writer of all time. I’ve seen lots of movies based in his books, but I know that’s not the same thing. I guess the horror genre isn’t really my thing. But I should do something about it, and I will read at least one of his books. Promise.
10. I like writing in coffee shops
Yes, I know it’s a bit of a cliché. In fact, I think there must be some kind of law that every Starbucks or Costa has to have at least one person with a laptop working on their novel or screenplay at all times. But I find them productive places to work. If I’m at home, I’m far more likely to put the telly on and slack off. Plus, I like the buzz and energy. And they’re great places to people watch, picking up inspiration for character traits.