Ah! I nearly forgot I had an official website and official blogging duties to perform, but I’ve been so busy over the last few weeks. Insanely so! A lot has happened to me over the last few months. 2014 has been a transformative year both professionally and personally. I’ve kept quiet about certain things, because I didn’t want to speak about it in public. The highs and lows have been earth-shattering! One day I’ve soared upwards, and then I’ve dropped down into the most horrible reality.
In June this year my sister passed away. She was only 39, and the second oldest of my siblings. My sister, whose laughter I still hear in my head, went out for a weekend and didn’t come back. To say that we, my family, were surprised doesn’t do justice to the shock we felt and still feel months later. I still can’t believe it, and sometimes I forget she’s dead. But even though my sister is dead…she’s certainly not gone. Does that sound strange? The day after she died, I received news that I had won the Catalyst Book Award. I remember slumping onto my reclining chair, laughing at the absolute absurdity of the situation. The Catalyst Committee were kind enough that they made an offer to delay the news.
I decided against a delay. I didn’t want to postpone the news, or my schedule. Sometimes I feel like I’ve done something selfish, that perhaps I should give myself time to heal. But I wanted everything to be business as usual. And it helped. Goodness, I can’t tell you how much it helped. I’ve always been strong willed – and recent months have shown me how tough I truly am. We all cope with things in different ways. I’m very much the ‘suffer in silence’ type, which may or may not be a good thing. But it’s the only way I know how to deal with the world around me. Friends have been wonderful and very supportive, which of course is lovely and comforting for my family.
So what happened next?
A few months ago I was invited to the Teen Titles party, which was an amazing experience. I turned it out; who knew that wearing a fur coat and toting my Kurt Cobain lunchbox would set me on the road to a new batch of gigs in school libraries? I had a great night with fellow authors, and we all met the readers, who were enthusiastic and wonderful. What a dizzying turn of events! I’ve been enveloped in a haze of interviews, events, talks, seminars and other brilliant moments.
Yesterday, for example, was the most wonderfully surreal moment of my life. I’d recently received an invite to teach creative writing at Edinburgh University as part of the Senior Pupils Creative Writing Conference. I’m still at the early stage of my writing career that everything is approached with a sort of psychotic enthusiasm; the stage of being jaded hasn’t set in, and with luck it never will! Pupils studying creative writing get the choice of different authors to teach them about the wacky world of creative writing. So there I stood with my screen and clicker – the clicker is wonderful, because I feel like I can PRESS PAUSE on the universe whilst I speak. I uttered the battle cry, “I am Kirkland Ciccone and I am destined to rule the teen reads scene.” And thank goodness none of the pupils disagreed, because I probably would have hurled myself through the doors and out into the corridors, screaming and raging for more tea to help sooth (and smooth) my perpetually furrowed brow. Tea relaxes me, you see.
I met up with fellow writers Cat Clarke, Roy Gill, and the legendary Catherine MacPhail. Then I ran off to get the train because I had an invite to Theresa Breslin’s book launch in Glasgow. Ghost Soldier, her new novel, is every bit as good as Divided City and Whispers In The Graveyard. Seriously, go and buy it. Anyway, the launch took place at Saint Judes, a very cool bar in Sauchiehall Street. Oh my! That is how you do a book launch. It had everything I could ever want from cakes to drinks…and of course books. Theresa Breslin, whom I first met at the Christmas Lunch last year when I was a nervy new author and she spoke to me like we’d been friends for years, showed off her shoes. Irregular Choice does shoes for men too. I’ve spotted a pair of polka dot boots! (Incidentally, that lunch was another surreal reminder of how far I’ve travelled metaphorically as a result of Conjuring The Infinite. I looked to my left and three chairs down…was Julia Donaldson, author of The Gruffalo.) I asked Theresa about A Time To Reap, which is now sadly out of print. I first read it over twenty years ago when Cumbernauld Library had a budget and bought in hundreds of books every few months. Theresa then offered to give me one of her copies. I gasped. I’ve been looking for it for ages. In fact I was going to ask her to get someone to reprint it! It was a fun night.
Next up is my party at Scotia Books, which takes place on Thursday. I’m trying to plan my show and make my entrance as fun and ridiculous as possible. I’m being crowned Catalyst champion, and during the day I’m going to Larbert HS and Kilsyth Academy for author visits. I haven’t had a chance to think about anything other than What Happens Next. But I can’t say I would want it any other way.
Then, at the end of October, the Citizens of Enkadar will unleash their diabolical war against the Real World in Endless Empress: A Mass Murderer’s Guide To Dictatorship In The Fictional Nation Of Enkadar.