So much is happening that I almost can’t keep up, but I’m going to try and get myself together using this blog to sort out my thoughts. WARNING: you, as the reader, may need to cartwheel in order to keep up. Okay? Good. Let’s go.
The Edinburgh International Book Festival
Every year, every August, my entire life stops for one reason: so I can go into Edinburgh to take part in the book festival. If I’m not taking part as an author, I’m taking part as a reader. It’s our version of Christmas, really. I wasn’t surprised by the decision to cancel festival. I’d heard a few rumours that this might happen. Really, I’d hoped by August this nightmare would be over. But of course with Boris in charge, that seems unlikely. He’s about as useful as a soup sandwich, isn’t he? The cancellation of the book festival really hurts because the Scottish publishing industry revolves itself around the comings and goings of Charlotte Square during August. My friend Alex (the author of several wonderful adult historical novels and books for young people as well as being your mad crazy English aunt with a Scottish spirit) was particularly upset because she’d been invited to take part, and she loves the festival too. The real devastation with this virus is that it weaponizes large gatherings and that’s the appeal of festivals and live events. I almost can’t imagine how we’ll get back to normal once we’re allowed out again.
I’m so angry about it. I know it’s going to keep people safe and I’d be more accepting of my fate if I felt there was a plan or a direction, but no-one seems to know what they’re doing. Boris and his Herd Immunity scheme flopped. I can’t imagine how many people have died because of his inaction. I said years ago that if Boris were ever to be elected, that he’d do more damage to this country than he did his own marriage after all those affairs. I wasn’t wrong. He’s dire. I doubt our economy will survive if we continue to stay in lockdown for much longer. It is in the best interests of the government to get their act together. This virus could have been mitigated with the correct preparation. Now we have venues for music and drama and performance and laughter being turned into hospitals. It’s horrifying, isn’t it?
Without them, we’d be going insane. Think about what you’re doing while in lockdown. You’re watching television, reading books, listening to music, enjoying a film or a box set. The arts have always been underappreciated from a financial standpoint. I don’t think people will take them for granted again. I hope not.
Happiness Is Wasted On Me
My forthcoming novel for adults. It’s still scheduled for May 28th but of course that could change in light of the situation. The problem my publisher has right now isn’t that bookshops have closed. Ideally I’d love to have a proper launch and sell, sell, SELL my new book. The main problem is distribution. They’ve all closed up except to major publishers. Indies and small presses discover a lot of new talent. They need our love and support. I’ve made my ‘career’ from them. I’m going to be optimistic that this will level off in April and things will start to get back to normal by the end of May/start of June. Postponing the novel’s release is still an option.
One victim of Covid-19 was Cristina. She was an underground pop star responsible for one of the best albums of the ’80s. Sleep It Off is a bitingly cynical assault on the yuppie era. Glamour and decay never sounded this amazing. I’m going to write a proper blog about it at some point. I’d been listening to the album a lot over the last few weeks, so this death in particular was upsetting. Cristina was so far ahead of her time that no-one saw her come and go. Sometimes that’s what happens.
For the Birds
I’ve been feeding the birds in my garden, throwing them bread, giving them water. It’s a small gesture but it makes me feel useful. One of them dropped a face wipe onto my fence, which was nice except it had been used by someone with too much fake tan. Yes, someone out there still wants fake tan and why not? I refuse to let myself go without a fight. I get up every morning, iron my clothes, have a bath, read a book, write, feed the birds, and try to live as normally as possible in these bloody bizarre circumstances.
I’m currently reading The Beach, which was that zeitgeist novel of 1996. Who doesn’t remember The Beach? I’d never read it before, so I’m taking the opportunity to get through all the books and comics I’ve got sitting on a pile waiting to be read. I love this book so far. Seriously, I totally get why it went nuclear. Alex wrote the script for Dredd, based on the iconic 2000AD character. Actually…
I’ve taken out a subscription for 2000AD.
Wasn’t that clip of Jodie Whittaker talking to everyone in character about this lockdown one of the loveliest moments in Doctor Who history ever? The power of this crazy fictional character to make grown adults feel this way!
My next book
I’m more than halfway through the first draft and by the end of this lockdown, I should be finished. With luck there are still publishers out there willing to snatch it!
I re-read Kitchen before I started on The Beach. It really helped. Her writing is weirdly soothing.
I’ll post more updates to this site over the next week, for my benefit more than anything.
Take care, folks