December 26th Boxing Day 2008

It’s all over. Christmas Day came and went as fast as a publisher’s royalty cheque.

After midnight communion (where I developed a sore throat, the result of a determination to sing all eight carols whether the woman in front of me liked it or not), the queen and I got to bed at about one forty-five Christmas day morning. I was so excited I didn’t drop off until about three, but woke up with a slight headache and a dry throat around seven thirty in the morning, about as happy as Woolworth’s sweetie supplier.

Between several phone calls to and from family and friends, I wrote and wrote my new Angel book. I made good progress. Meanwhile the queen was downstairs preparing a gargantuan meal to be served up at five-thirty.

Christmas dinner was great, but I had a second helping of Christmas pudding, which was the quintessence of Silverwood gluttony and my personal downfall.

We saw a bit of telly in the evening, and a great little film we had recorded called THE MAN WHO SAVED CHRISTMAS. (Shades of FOYLE’S WAR which we enjoy.) Sounds like a kid’s tale, but it was about a toy factory owner in the US, torn between making armaments or toys during World War 1. The only actor we knew was an amusing crusty old shuffler called Edward Asner. I remember he played an amusing crusty young editor in THE MARY TAYLOR MOORE SHOW a hundred years previously. You might remember him.

Yesterday (and today) there were some top-notch films but we’ve seen them all several times before.

Went to bed early to make up for loss of sleep. However I woke up at 3.20 am this morning. Couldn’t get off again. The overindulgence of Christmas pud was part of the reason. I knew I would pay for it. Anyway, it was not all a loss. I used some of the quiet time to write more of my Angel book until just gone five. Then the queen woke up, so I got up and made us a very early breakfast.

The Christmas pud problem was still with me. There was only one thing to do. At seven o’clock, I got washed, shaved and dressed and went out for a four mile walk. Now that might seem no distance at all to you, but it equates to walking from Land’s End to Melbourne and back to me. And it was absolutely desolate. It was like attending my own funeral procession. I only saw four zombies the entire walk. One every mile. And they were in hoodies and walking big ugly dogs. The streets were about as lively as the main street in Tombstone just before Jesse James, Frank James and Doc Holliday were expected to ride in.

I got back home at 10.35 am. The front of my legs hurt something rotten. The queen just laughed at me. I got undressed, came back to bed and wrote more Angel. I got stuck just after 12 noon, so I began to write this.

You know, the queen and I have had a super Christmas and I hope that - whatever your dreams were for this Christmastime - that they all came true.

One small gripe. The media seems to think that Christmas is all about buying, and high street retailers and whether it’s at a 30%, 50% or 75% discount. I must say, I have never been less interested. It’s true that I am very lucky, but even so, there are stacks of things in life that I would still like, but none of them could be bought from a high street retailer at even 100% discount. They simply haven't anything I want.

In this house, we ignore the media and all that advertising and PR stuff, and those overpaid celebrities pushing their pension schemes, debt advice, building societies, three piece suites and whatever. Join us. Keep the magic of Christmas alive. Do what you want to do and have a wonderful time.
December 22nd 2008

It’s all done. In our small way, we are ready for the great day.

And this year, we’ve never had so many Christmas cards. I’ve enjoyed opening every one. And each one is joyfully reciprocated. Some are from beloved distant relatives, who we haven’t seen for ages. Some from valuable friends we have made over the years who live far away. The rest are from life’s throng of friends, relations and enemies. Each card is enjoyed, renews and restores old relationships, and is full of memories.
I heard the husband of a well known celebrity couple on the telly say, in a superior way, ‘We aren’t sending cards this year … such a waste … we are sending the money to charity.’
On what they’re paid, they could afford to do both.
Poor souls. I don’t suppose they have many friends.

Happier news …
Another of my nephews, Dylan, popped in on Saturday. It was great to see him. He brought a bottle, a Christmas cake and some mince pies, which was very nice. We had a long chat and I took him down to the pub for an hour. He’s going to the West Indies over the holiday season. He enjoys diving so he’ll be having a great time in the water and warmth of the Caribbean. I thought, he’ll want something to read in the plane, so I gave him a copy of THE WIGMAKER. Well, all right. I don’t know whether he wanted something to read in the plane or not. I gave him the book anyway. Got to get rid of them somehow.

I’ve had a glance at the new Radio Times. There’s very little on the box for us this Christmastime. Comedians who aren’t funny. Repeats of very old films. Do you know, I’ve seen THE AFRICAN QUEEN that many times, I know the lines and pauses better than Humphrey Bogart.
Almost everything else is a repeat of a repeat. So most of the time I shall be cracking along writing my new Angel book, and I might catch up with some sleep. The queen has some reading she wants to do and she enjoys the TV hospital soaps like Casualty and Holby City where there is a lot of blood, pain, hypodermic needles and all the patients die.

Anyway there’s only two days to go, so now is the time to slip gently into ‘the magic of Christmas’ mode. Whether you’re joining in a big party, or there’s just two of you, or you are on your own, keep the magic alive.
And whatever your dreams are for this Christmastime, I hope they all come true.
I’ll get back to you very soon.
December 19th 2008

Ah, there you are.

I've just heard that the police have conclusive forensic evidence to prove that a man called Robert Napper murdered Rachel Nickell on Wimbledon Common 16 years ago. This is another instance of the police finding and meticulously preserving a substance belonging to a murderer, on the body (or at the scene) of the dead person, then years later, as science was developed, forensic services through DNA revealing the identity of the criminal.
In this instance, they don’t say what the substance was, but it could be as anodyne as dried out perspiration on a garment, or a small flake of skin under the victim’s fingernails, or a single hair that may have fallen from the murderer onto the victim’s body or clothing. Whatever it was, after 16 years, I call that pretty fantastic, don’t you?

To domestic matters …

I’ve finished the cards and posted them. I just have a few cards in walking distance to deliver. All I need is a bit more sunshine, like today, to encourage me outside and they’ll be done.

Presents all bought and despatched (except one). I don’t know what to get the queen. I said she can have anything she likes. It was a bit risky to say that, I know. Consequently, I was very nervous when we were watching the telly and there was a news item about the possible extinction of elephants, and how they need a safe haven. You see, the queen is as soft as a Strangeway’s dumpling, and I could visualise my favourite chair being occupied by a big grey chap with a long hooter.

We’ve already got the turkey. We’ve the tree to do, the cards to put up and we’re all set.

My eldest nephew, Simon, his daughters, Jazmin and Holly, and his friend, Sarah, came to see us at the weekend. The girls are all grown up now and flying around looking at the world. It seems so easy to them. Holly has already walked on the Great Wall of China and taken in the scene of the two towers disaster in New York. As soon as she gets a long weekend off work, I expect she’ll be going to the moon.

I am really looking forward to this Christmas … to the quiet, the rest and the opportunity to write undisturbed. Also, maybe I will sleep better when things settle down and there’s just the two of us.

Christmas is a great festival and it’s for everyone to enjoy and celebrate in their own way. The nativity is a magical story bringing love and hope to a poor man and his wife. We can do with it here and now, so, whether you’re on your own, just two of you, or in a big party, keep the magic alive. I hope your troubles are small ones, and whatever your dreams are for this Christmas time, may they all come true. Have a great time.

I’ll get back to you soon.
December 9th 2008

Glad you came back.

Well, I don’t know how you intend spending Christmas. But I have my plans made. It’s going to be paradise here. The staff will be off. The family and friends who are visiting will have been and gone. TV won’t tempt me; I expect it will be the usual rubbish or repeats of repeats. The house will be quiet, so after we have taken our Christmas communion, eaten our turkey and parsnips, and had a snooze, my wife has plans for some quiet reading and a bit of cooking, and I’ll be upstairs continuing to bang out my new Angel book. I will hope to have written twenty more pages by the New Year.

I said in my last diary entry that because it was The National Year of Reading, 2008, I was going to support it by emailing the nearest 12 libraries offering to give a talk to readers’ clubs or to anybody who was interested? Well, I didn’t send the emails. May I be forgiven.
My mind is too caught up with my new book, which I am about half way through. When I am carrying a new plot and a dozen new characters around in my head, it is quite enough for my little brain to think about.
Haven’t you ever gone to sleep thinking about something, and then woken up still thinking about it? Well that’s how I am when putting a new book together. I don’t sleep well either, which in these circumstances for me is normal.
Anyway, frankly, I didn't want to commit myself to turning out of the house in the cold weather. I really don’t want to face the fog, the frost and the snow. I know I must sound a bit of a wet Nellie, but I don’t care. My name’s Silverwood not Fiennes.
I’ll send the emails when the winter is almost over in February maybe, or earlier if I get a sudden attack of guilty conscience.

I hear from RED HERRINGS, the house journal for members of The Crime Writers’ Association that there is more gloomy news from libraries. They are planning to spend less again next year on books. Also 38 libraries have been closed and the forecast is that a similar number will have succumbed to the same fate by next March bringing the total number in three years to over a hundred.
By the time the library bosses have paid for the heating, lighting, rates and staff wages there’s nothing left to buy books! What a carry on.

I’ve had notification that the AGM of the Crime Writers’ Association 2009 will take place in Lincoln in April. So I will easily be able to attend that. It’s only an hour away. Last year it was in Kent and the year before that, Dublin. I understand that among other treats, we will be able to have a looksee at the control room and other ‘private’ places at Lincoln County police station.

One of my great nieces, Holly, has enrolled me onto something called 'Facebook'. Ever since, I have been receiving emails from all parts of the globe…. From people I met years ago …can’t remember many of them … it’s very agreeable but also very time consuming. As a matter of courtesy, I always reply to everybody who writes to me, but they will maybe have to wait a little while. If you want to write to me, you can, at <>, and if it’s really interesting, I might publish it here. How about that?

Well, I hope you are having a pleasant time despite the gloomy news. Don’t forget to go to the library and borrow a few books to tide you over the Christmas holiday ... or there are some good deals on the internet.

I’ll get back to you soon.
November 14 2008

Where have you been?

I have some great news. I have just had a letter from the publishers, Hales, to say that the world rights to publish a large print edition of MURDER IN BARE FEET has been sold to Thorpe’s. (Thorpe’s have already published 9 of my books in large print for those with impaired eyesight). That's good, isn't it? But even bigger news is that Hales have sold the audio rights in the book to Isis. That means that MURDER IN BARE FEET will be recorded by an actor on a CD, so that blind people or people who like being read to, can listen to the book. Isn’t that fabulous? I looked at other writers who have their books recorded and sold by Isis and I am indeed in honoured company. I was wondering who they might get to record it. If I had a say, I would go for Robert Hardy. Although he normally speaks in a cultured accent, I’m sure he would produce an excellent northern twang for Angel. What do you think? I’ll let you know how it goes.

Hey. Did you know it was The National Year of Reading, 2008? It’s a government initiative directed at libraries, publishers and responsible writers. Evidently I am expected to prise myself out of my comfortable hidey hole where I do my writing and go out and meet people. I am not too chuffed with the thought, but I appreciate that the idea of encouraging everybody to read more (particularly books) is in my ultimate best interests. I am, therefore writing to the 12 library authorities nearest home offering my services to talk or be interviewed or whatever they might want to do with me, before the year runs out. I don’t care if nobody takes me up on it. I will have done my bit. I can write all the more and stay cosy by the fire. I am nice bloke really, and I love meeting people, it’s just the business of getting dressed up, leaving a warm house, finding the place and parking the car …. I don’t know what will happen. We’ll see. I’ll tell you how it works out.

By the way this weather is playing havoc with my joints. I didn’t think I’d ever be saying that, but age tells all. My dear wife Celia’s wrist is still giving her some punishment, but very slowly improving we think. Hope you’re weathering the wintry punishment. Turn the fire up, blow the expense. Somebody else will have to pay for it if you don’t.

Thanks for looking in. Come back soon. Take care.
November 5th Guy Fawkes Day 2008
Hello there.

I must tell you. I woke this morning at the ridiculous time of 1.30 am. But it was not to start making bonfire toffee, nor to find bottles suitable for launching rockets, nor to find a suitable post on which to pin a Catherine wheel, oh no. It was to watch the result of the election of the President of the USA. And I had to wait until 4.30 am before it was 24 carat certain that it was to be Barack Obama. I am pleased to see that he is the victor, and I wish my friends (I have lots of readers in the US) the very best in the future … But I wished I had slept through. I will be in a fog all day. Instead of writing page turning saleable stuff, it will probably all be tripe and have to be scratched out tomorrow. I will not merely have lost a night’s sleep, I will have lost a day’s work as well.

Moving quickly on …
I got a few good wishes on the launch of MURDER IN BARE FEET on October 31st, which was very kind. The dust jacket was well up to expectations and should be quite striking among the hundreds of other books competing for attention in the shops. Also, my dear wife, Celia, did have the pot removed from her arm, and we did go out and had the special haddock to celebrate. The country pub we go to has a big log fire and we sat by it and heard the logs crackle and enjoyed the heat as we tackled the batter.

It is nice to live extravagantly now and again, isn't it? …

I knew you'd agree.

Oh dear. (Yawn. Yawn)
I must get some sleep.
Thanks for looking in.
Come back soon.
October 24th 2008
Glad you’ve come back.

The good news is that my wife, Celia, is having the pot off her broken wrist next Friday, October 31st. Great stuff! That’s Halloween, which coincidentally is the publication date of my new Inspector Angel book, MURDER IN BARE FEET. So we are going out for a double celebratory lunch. We’re planning to have haddock and chips at a quiet little pub we know out in the country. (Stuff the expense). Please look out for MURDER IN BARE FEET in the shops or in your library. It’s an intriguing story that stumps Angel for a while. I had great fun writing it. I hope you enjoy reading it.

Hey, I had an email from a reader who has just read MANTRAP. She said she enjoyed it, which is always nice to hear. I note from her address that she lives in New Zealand. Her name is Mrs Amy Pollard.
Isn’t the internet amazing? It reaches all parts of the world. Do you think anybody in Mars is also having a secret peek at this?
Anyway, Amy tells me she used to live in Askern, which is not far from Doncaster and Bromersley. So she knows the places Angel and Co visit, and the kind of locations where the crimes are committed.
Do you know, I understand that my books are sold in every English speaking country, but up to now, I’ve only heard from the US and Singapore? It’s nice to know that Inspector Angel is also read in New Zealand. Good on you, Amy. Thanks for the email. Slap another sausage on the barbie.

You know, I’d love to hear from you. If you send me an interesting email, I might give it a mention here and you could maybe see it in due course.

Must go. I’ve got to collect Celia from the hairdresser’s. And I’m supposed to be working on another book. I’ve got started and it’s going OK, so far. I’m on page 50. Hales need 224. Only another 174 to do. Easy?

Thanks for looking in.

If you want to get back to the main website, click on Roger Silverwood – Crime Writer, up on the right.
Come back soon.
Take care.
September 26th 2008

Hello there, readers. Glad you're back.

On Tuesday last, my dear wife, Celia, fell and broke her wrist. Needed an ambulance to take her to hospital, where she had to have it set and then reset with the support of what they call gas and air. It was, of course, nitrous oxide, but absolutely nothing happened at all that made her laugh. Bless her. She is now wearing a plaster cast that weighs more than a Strangeways porridge cooker. Her face is down to her boots, and who do you think is doing the nursing, the shopping, the cooking, washing up, feeding the cats and the birds, and everything else?

I thought for a time that I wouldn’t be able to get to the northern chapter meeting of the Crime Writers Association (the CWA) on Sunday. However, she very kindly let me off the hook to go.

The meeting was held in a posh hotel in Lancashire. It was a smaller turnout than usual due to illness; also some members had delayed their holidays due to the bad summer and were taking them then.

My good friend Peter N. Walker (who also writes under the name of Nicholas Rhea) who wrote and created the ‘Heartbeat’ series and writes the ‘Constable’ books was not there. He hardly ever misses a meeting, but this last year, he hasn’t been too well; just as he was getting on his feet, his lovely wife, Rhoda broke her leg (skiing, no doubt), so Peter is having to mix the Martinis, take the money to Barclays and throw the fish and chip papers out for the both of them, for the time being.

At the lunch, I sat next to my good friend, Shirley Wells and her husband Nick. Shirley tells me she has just finished a book she has been working on for more than a year. She keeps reading it and polishing it, and one day, very soon, she’s going to print it off and send it to her publisher. She’s had about six good sellers published, so she shouldn’t have anything at all to worry about.

Met up with Meg Elizabeth Atkins who reminisced about the time we used to have CWA meetings in The Queen’s Hotel in Leeds. She remembers me as I do her, but that was over twenty years ago. She has written some very hairy books in the past. Meg writes much less often now, but enjoys organizing the Association’s conferences and meetings.

Also met for the first time a delightful lady and very busy writer who now lives in Leeds, Frances McNeil, winner of the HarperCollins Elizabeth Elgin award for the most regionally evocative debut saga of the Millenium, ‘Somewhere Behind the Morning’. She has written plays and short stories for the BBC, written novels, worked in the US. Been everywhere. Done everything. Seen everything. Makes you sick.

The national chairman, Lesley Horton, was there, and told us that the national committee are negotiating with a major TV company to be the new sponsor of the Silver Dagger Crime Writers’ Association awards. If that comes off, it should be exciting and open the door to a wider choice of crime fiction to viewers of that particular channel and more work for lesser known writers, instead of the same, usual half a dozen regulars.

The northern chapter chairman, Roger Forsdyke, who happens to be a superintendent of police, said that the 2009 national conference was to be held in Lincoln. That’s great news for me. I can probably get to that without staying away from home.

The meeting finished after the lunch and I got home at about four o’clock to my darling Celia, a sink full of pots, a meal to cook and the cats to feed. Anyway, it was great fun meeting old friends.

You know, I’d love to hear from you. If you send me an interesting email, I might publish it here and you could maybe see it maybe in a week or two.

I got an appreciative email from Edward Day in South Wales, who was very complimentary about Angel and said ‘could you please promote the ever eager Police Cadet Ahmed Ahaz, he does so deserve it.’
I was able to reply to Edward that Ahmed had been promoted, a few books back, to the rank of Police Constable following passing a course at Aykley Heads Police Training College, near Durham. But thanks very much for that, Edward.

Must go. Got another sink full of pots to wash. And a book to write. Thanks for looking in. Please come back in a little while and I’ll tell you what Angel’s up to and how I’m getting on.

If you want to get back to the main website, click on Roger Silverwood – Crime Writer, up on the right. God bless.
September 17th 2008

I say, members of the Crime Writers Association (the CWA) who live in the north will be getting ready for the six-monthly meeting and luncheon of the Northern Chapter which will be held in a hotel somewhere central on Sunday next, September 21st. I am not allowed to say exactly where, because it is for members only and the famous faces wouldn’t want the press and celebrity spotters watch them as they tuck their serviettes in their shirt collars and dip their bread in the gravy. It’s understandable really …

Crime writers will travel a hundred miles or more to meet old friends, have a meal, a ginger beer and talk about stuff like changes in the gun laws, publishers’ advances, book sales, TV rights and the apostrophe. It might sound like the stuff out of Strangeways slop buckets to you, but it’s the very lifeblood to writers like me, who spend hours and hours on their own, tapping away at a computer keyboard, thinking up characters, bringing them to life and putting them in original and believable plots.

Anyway, I’ll tell you about it when I get back next week. Thanks for looking in.

If you want to get back to the main website, click on Roger Silverwood – Crime Writer, above to the right.

Happy reading!

September 13th 2008

I am simply bursting to tell you that my book was accepted. Got a letter and contract in the post this morning. If you’ve been following this diary, you’ll know that last week I submitted my latest Angel book to the publishers for their consideration.

It will be called THE CUCKOO CLOCK SCAM. This was the book I had had such difficulty with because I had been diverted twice for different reasons and had to reread twice and concentrate really hard to get into the spirit of the book and get back into the plot. It was well worth the effort. I hope you will think it’s a good read. It won’t be published until about this time next year, but the publishers get on with the pre-production such as the ideas for the dust jacket, and working out exactly how many pages it will be and if I have the apostrophe in the right place and so on.
Do you know, if I could drink a bottle of champagne, I’d open one today; as I can’t, it’ll have to be a cup of Tetleys.

I’ll get back to you soon. Thanks for looking in. If you want to get back to the main website, scroll up to the top right and click on Roger Silverwood – Crime Writer.
September 6th 2008.

Hello there. This is my fourth entry. I think I’m getting the hang of this diary writing caper. It is certainly creating a lot of interest. But I may have to make future contributions to it shorter, though. After all, my prime writing commitment has got to be to the publisher. If I don’t get my Angel books written in the first place, then Hales can’t publish them, and nobody would ever hear the latest about what Michael Angel and his wife, Mary, Ahmed and the rest of them are doing. And this diary, about them and me would be totally irrelevant (if you see what I mean). Also, if I owe you an email, hang on in there. I’ll get round to it as soon as I can.

On Saturday 23rd August, my youngest nephew, Andrew and his lovely wife, Mandy and their two adopted boys, James and Kieron came over from Bridlington to see us. They are definitely emigrating to New Zealand. They’ve both got jobs waiting. The only thing that is stopping them is the selling of their house. They’ll be off as soon as they get a purchaser. What about that? But it’s a long way. We shall miss them terribly.

On Saturday, 30th August, I finally finished the book. Oh what a relief! I had been through it again, laboriously questioning every word, tightening the plot, rounding the characters, still finding little inconsistencies and typos. My wife, Celia, also finally went through it and found a few more. Anyway, I printed it off on Sunday, packed it up and posted it off first thing last Monday morning. All I can do about it now is wait and hope.

On Sunday, 31st August, I heard from my old friend Matthew Elliott. Matthew has written stacks of radio plays. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of crime fiction both American and British and writes articles on that subject for trade magazines. He is very busy too. He has a commission to write a new series of that cult hero, Mike Hammer.

My wife’s cousin, Jennifer and her husband Derek Mold in Sheringham, Norfolk, were in touch also last Sunday, and he played his digiridoo for us over the phone. It’s a sort of one note instrument and through simultaneously breathing in and out allows the one beautiful, atmospheric note to be played non stop for long periods. It’s very soothing. Derek is a skilled player and is going back to Australia soon for more lessons. It’s absolutely true.

On Monday, September 1st, - hey, this was exciting - I got an invitation to dinner with America’s Sherlock Holmes, John Patrick Lowrie. He is flying into London for a few days. It is for dinner at the Sherlock Holmes Hotel (where else?) later this month. I have written three plays for him. I would love to go, but I’m not sure I can fit it in. We’ll see.

I am still waiting to hear whether my latest Angel book has been accepted. I’ll slap it down here and tell you even if it hasn’t. Watch this space.

I’ve started another book … so I’m going to get right back to it. Thanks for looking in. I'll write again soon.

If you want to get back to the main website, scroll up to the top right and click on Roger Silverwood - Crime Writer.

August 26th 2008

Hello there. This is my third blog entry. If you haven’t looked in before, I’m trying to convey a flavour of what it’s like living here in South Yorkshire, writing crime novels (especially stories about Inspector Angel) while also trying to live something like a normal life. Now if that would be of interest to you, join the gang and please read on.

Since last time, I have had some interesting emails from very some nice people. One particular gentleman asked me if I was a relation of Herbert Silverwood, the evangelist who came from somewhere here in Yorkshire. Sadly I am not, but I had met him 20 or more years ago. He was a nice old gentleman wonderfully and sincerely gifted. I expect he will have passed on to greater glory by now.

You know, I’d like to hear from you. If you send me an interesting email, I might publish it here and you could maybe see it in a week or two.

A writer friend of mine, lovely Shirley Wells, reminded me that this diary goes all the way round the world. Wherever anybody with a computer, who might be at home, in an office, up a tree, in a boat, on a hot beach shaking down a coconut or wherever, who might be interested in Angel, or anything else I write about, can have a peek here for free.

Well, of course they can, cobber. I hadn’t thought about it. So it’s an opportunity for me to say to hello to all my friends in faraway places … such as Imagination Theatre in Seattle, Washington, USA, who I have written plays for; also my cousin, Paul in Northfield, in Michigan, USA, (it’s the town where Jesse James was shot dead); my wife’s cousin and good friend Robin and his lovely wife in Singapore, and my wife’s nephew, a great young man, Robs who has a posh job in Perth, Australia. Hope you’re all happy, making a few quid and getting a few beers wherever you are. Great stuff.

I say, on August 7th, I had not had a good night, didn’t sleep very well, and after I’d had my prunes and bran flakes and a mug of tea, I was upstairs, unshaved and in my pyjamas and dressing gown bumbling between the study (it’s a little store room with a desk, a computer and a filing cabinet in the corner) and the bedroom, where I do most of my writing on a laptop on the bed, on one elbow. I had wanted to write, but pains in my back and tooth-ache were getting at me and all I could think about was what to grumble about next. Well, it was that sort of day … chucking it down with rain as well as everything else. My wife was in the bathroom getting dressed, as I passed the door, I came back to tell her that the new two ply toilet paper doesn’t tear properly. Which it doesn’t. Each ply tears at a different length, which is damned inconvenient. I was going on at length about this and she was beginning to get ratty and I was getting rattier, when the phone rang. I turned and went into the bedroom and answered it. I expected it was somebody wanting to selling me something. I once had a girl ringing me up at eight o’clock at night wanting to sell me a wheelchair with 35% off!! I don’t even need a wheelchair. I could have reached down the wire and choked her. Anyway, it wasn’t. It was an appointments clerk at the hospital. It was about my appointment at the hospital for an examination and check up on the 21st. Would I like to come in earlier? Yes. Of course I would, I said. When? Soon as you can. How about today? Today? Can you make two o’clock? Today? Yes. I thought a second. Why not? Of course I can. Yes, I said. Yes. Right, she said. So, it was on.
I started moving round then. Had to. Time and tide and all that. Washed and shaved in no time. Shower. Clean vest and pants and all that for the doctor. We gobbled lunch … tomato soup, mashed banana in milk, apple and pear … and we were there, outrageously early at one o’clock, seen early at one-forty-five, told I was clear for another twelve months. Clear! Great. I said WONDERFUL, THANK YOU, God. Got dressed. Home for two twenty-five. Done, dusted, don’t have to worry about the hospital, and I’m clear for another twelve months. Absolute Magic. Fed the outside cats. Went upstairs. Wrote almost a full page.

The following day, the 8th, the galley proofs of MURDER IN BARE FEET (to be published on October 31st) arrived for me to check over. That was the last opportunity for me to make sure there were no mistakes to be reproduced a thousand million times, for all the world to see for all eternity what a fool I am. Another tedious job. But I decided to let it wait.

You see, I was afraid that I might lose the thread of the book I’m currently writing yet again. Well, you know I am in the middle of another Angel book, and had had two disturbances to my stream of thought. One of them was getting the website open on time for July 1st and the other thing was a painful wisdom tooth. I eventually had to have the damned thing out. Both these things took my concentration away from the writing. Once you’ve lost the thread, you’ve got to re-read the narrative, refresh your memory, pick up the characters, the plot, the intensity of the thing and regain the momentum. I had lost all that.

I was determined it was not going to happen a third time. I made everything wait, that I could, until I’d finished the book. I reckoned it should only take me about another 10 days. Dammit. I had everything, the characterisations, the clues, the exposé and the ending in my mind. I just had to get everything down in the right sequence, in the right words, to make the right length, while it was fresh and before I forgot it. Why doesn’t anybody understand that?

Anyway, on August 20th at 8.30 in the morning, I finished it. I say ‘finished’. I still need to go through it and polish it, but there’s no risk of me forgetting anything. It’s written down. I have got every character’s name right. The plot works. The story’s thrilling, unique and crisp. I am quite excited. Hope everybody else will be. (If it’s accepted, it won’t be published until September 2009).

Now I’ve chance to catch up with jobs I’ve left. Got to check those galley proofs and sort out my accountant. I am sure he’s getting things wrong. I think I’m being charged for all the Bejing fireworks!

Well, I hope you had a super holiday. We didn’t go away this year, maybe we’ll manage it later on.

Must go. Got to polish my book then think of a plot for a new book … and I haven’t an idea in my head.

Please come back in a little while and I’ll tell you what Angel’s up to and how I’m getting on.
August 1st 2008

Hello there.

Well you wouldn't think a whole month has passed since I wrote the first page in this diary, would you?

There was a problem with the email contact to enable you to write to me, this has now been fixed by James (the webmaster). But I do know that a few hundred good people have had a peep here. I hope that they read this diary. I get such a kick out of writing it.

In the early part of the month, I saw the artist's first idea of the dust jacket of MURDER IN BARE FEET which is the next Inspector Angel book coming out on October 31st, this year. It was simply the picture of the mould of a foot in sand and shells from a handgun. I thought it looked great. I hope readers won't think it's a story set in the desert; it's set in Bromersley, here in South Yorkshire, of course.

I also got an advance copy of the large print edition of THE CURIOUS MIND OF INSPECTOR Angel, which is due out in the bookshops and internet shops on July 30th. It's a very striking cover. You can see it at the top of the page. If you have somebody who has visual difficulty or if it's a young person trying to learn to read, these versions are really helpful. I have nine books out in large print now. The titles are listed and shown at the bottom of the Books page. If you don't want to buy any of them, ask at your library, they usually have them in stock or might get them in, if you smile at the librarian sweetly.

By the way, I have just heard that WILD ABOUT HARRY (that'll be the 13th Inspector Angel book) will be published on the 27th February 2009. That's four days after my birthday. It'll be like a late birthday present.

I have a letter calling me to the hospital to have a check up on the 21st. I have had a few of these over the past five years. I hate it ... difficulty parking the car, hanging around for ages, undressed in a dressing gown, waiting for a miserable man in a white coat to hurt me. Then wait for the verdict. I don't like it. Anyway, please wish me luck.

Hey. I hear that the Plain English Campaign, which I enthusiastically support, have accused the press offices and websites of some British police forces of 'ploddedlygook'. Apparently Norfolk constabulary call their control room 'citizen focus command.' While Suffolk coppers call the boss of their IT department, 'the director of knowledge architecture'. How about that?
Instead of 'crime writer', I thought I would call myself 'a placement of words in reasoned entertaining sequence relating exclusively to crime, operative'. What do you think?

That famous Booker prize has been awarded. £20,000. I look at it covetously each year knowing that I have as much chance of winning it as I have of finishing a full bottle of champagne in a day. I did that after a party, when my first Angel book, IN THE MIDST OF LIFE was published years ago! Happy memories.

Did you know that creosote is a banned substance? The perimeter of my garden was recently fenced with timber which has never been painted, so I needed a few gallons of creosote to preserve it. I went down to Focus and asked for creosote. The assistant in there looked at me blank. The stuff has been banned for sale by European regulations. Can't think why. You wouldn't want to smoke it, inhale it, or drink it, would you?

Must get back to writing ... I'll never finish this book on time.

PS. I saw this lovely joke in RED HERRINGS, that's the crime writer association's official magazine ...
Question: How many crime writers does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: Two. One to put the bulb in the socket and another to give it an extra twist.

Must fly. Have a super holiday.
July 1st 2008

Well, hello folks. It’s July already, and who would think I’m writing on my very own website. If my father was alive he wouldn’t believe it. For that matter, my father wouldn’t believe that you can shove a piece of plastic in the wall and tap in a number and money comes out! But there you are.

But readers, hello. It’s July 2008. And the sun is shining. The hottest day of the year so far!
I have never kept a diary before, but I am going to try and give anybody who cares to read it – if there is anybody out there – a flavour of what it’s like trying to be a crime writer and at the same time still live as much of a normal life as possible.

If last week was anything to go by, you will see how difficult it is. Huh. The phone was dead for three days, I had to have a wisdom tooth out, I had to take my wife to the hospital for a check up, we ran out of porridge and my webmaster (what a posh name, but he insists on it- he’s power mad – his real name is James) insisted that the site should still be completed and opened on time.

While all this was happening, I had to check off the fiddling little errors and inconsistencies that the copy editor at Hales had found in the manuscript of my book, MURDER IN BARE FEET (September/October this year). There aren’t many this time, thank goodness, but they needed sorting out. It’s boring and time-consuming. I’ve written and re-read the book a hundred times by now. I know it backwards … I want to move on. Anyway I’ve had an email this morning from the obermeister-furhrer down there, apparently everything is now OK and the manuscript has gone to the typesetter. It’s exciting. Although I’ve had seventeen books published, every stage nearer publication of a new book still gives me a buzz of excitement, like a family of bees buzzing round my chest.

I’m off to try and write some more while I can. I’m in the middle of a book for September/October next year, 2009, it’s about a man finding a dead pig in a nightie in his bed. I’ve got Angel tangled up in a devil of a plot that is taking some sorting out … and I am supposed to know whodunnit! Come back in a week or two and I’ll tell you how I’m getting along.