So here I am, halfway through my sabbatical year, and somehow I seem to be as busy as ever. When I am writing a novel, it’s the perfect excuse not to accept any invitations or take on any other work. These invites are always tempting, and this year I seem to be yielding to temptation again and again.
January saw me on a book tour in India, courtesy of the British Council. I then headed to the Galle literary festival in Sri Lanka. While there I attended my first ever Burns Supper. The heat was sweltering, we all ate outdoors, and there was something wild and strange about toasting ‘the Bard’ with whisky while craving a long cold drink and a dip in a bath filled with ice. February, I went to Barcelona to be presented with the Pepe Carvalho Prize, a lifetime achievement award. I was able to point out the many similarities between Barcelona and Edinburgh, faltering only when it came to the prowess of their football clubs.
I wrote a short story in February. It was for a charity night at the Caledonian Brewery, and I decided to set it there. It features Rebus and Siobhan, and starts with them on a brewery tour (one of her gifts to him on his retirement). Their guide tells them a ghost story, and this starts Rebus on yet another adventure. It was fun to write about the pair of them again, and strengthened my feeling that we probably haven’t seen the last of either of them.
March comprised a German promotional tour (with additional days in Vienna and Zurich), and a lot of rewrites on ‘Justified Sinner’. If you’re a regular recipient of these bloggy updates you’ll know that for the past few years I have been striving (with co-writer James Mavor) to bring James Hogg’s extraordinary novel ‘Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner’ to the big screen. It seemed to take us forever to find a way into the book, and the first few months of 2010 were spent tweaking the script. The good news is that our funders and producer now reckon it’s ready to be shown to directors. It duly went to Cannes and is now with our first-choice director. Fingers crossed.
In April, there were necessary cancellations – volcanic ash and family illness meant I could make it to neither the Cuirt Festival in Galway nor the annual crime festival in Lyon. I did get to the London Book Fair for a day, and then spent a whole week celebrating my 50th birthday. There was an eve-of-birthday bash at the Central Library in Edinburgh, complete with fizz and cake and a rendering of ‘Happy Birthday’ by King Creosote. I also went to a Rick Wakeman concert, and even Late Review threw a bit of a party after I’d done a stint for them on the Friday night.
May saw me take things a tad easier, though I did write a brand new short story about a long-term con who has a phobia about leaving prison. This originally felt to me like a short film – maybe 10 or 15 minutes – but I tested it as a short story, just to make sure it worked as a believable set-up. Dunno where or when I’ll publish said story. I’ll keep you posted. Gigs in May: everything from Randy Newman to Peter Hamill. Those who follow me on Twitter (I’m @beathhigh – Beath High being my old school) will have seen a pic I posted of my son and a friend backstage at the Randy Newman concert, meeting the great man. Mr Newman is a fan of my books and was in the middle of The Complaints. He’s even tried Irn Bru, after reading about it in the Rebus novels…
So now I’m writing this in June, just before heading off to Kefalonia for a week’s break. There’s plenty of work ahead. Here are a few tasters.
26 June I’ll be opening the Edinburgh Canal Festival (Union Canal). 3 July I’ll be talking at the Oxfam Book Festival at Glasgow University. 20 July I’ll be in Galway, making up for missing my event at the Cuirt Festival. 22-25 July I’ll be one of the guests at the Old Peculier Crime Festival in Harrogate. August sees me busy (as usual) at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Details are still under wraps, but watch out for 17, 19, 20, 23 and 30 Aug. 8-13 September I’m in Italy, including a stint at the Mantova Festival. Last time I was there I managed to get arrested along with a photographer for trespassing on a railway. I really wish I’d learned some languages at school….
Towards the end of September I think I’m doing the Wigtown Book Festival, and mid-October it’s Paris and Lyon.
And somewhere in the midst of all that, The Complaints is published in paperback, which may mean some UK dates – we’ll keep you posted.
Oh, and I need to start thinking of my next book. I owe my publisher a brand new novel by mid-2011, so I need to get my head together for October/November. 2011 should also see some TV activity – both The Complaints and Doors Open have picked up significant interest (scripts for both are underway as I write – but not scripted by me). One’s for BBC, the other ITV. I should have a bit of a say in the casting and the way the scripts pan out – lessons have been learned from the TV version(s) of Rebus.
My albums of the summer: The Divine Comedy (Bang Goes the Knighthood) and Teenage Fanclub (Shadows).
Whatever else you do out there, have fun….