So that was 2015, then . . .
In my head, I think of it as six months of writing a book, four months of waiting for that book to be published and two months of promoting it after it hit the shops. Looking back at the trusty kitchen calendar, however, I see there was more to it than that. (Did you know that my whole life is run via our kitchen calendar? I never know what I’m doing on any given day or week until I consult it. It stands in for the PA/secretary I don’t have.)
So, yes, I spent a good chunk of the first half of the year writing Even Dogs in the Wild. Much of that book was written during a few sustained trips to my bolt hole in Cromarty. Just me and my ancient laptop and evening visits to the Cromarty Arms for nourishment. And the book really flew. Not having written a novel the previous year, it’s as though the story was bursting to be told, the characters desperate to be saying and doing. I recall that I didn’t always feel in control of the plot – but the novel knew
where it wanted to go, so I just clung on by my fingertips.
When I did step away from the ‘office’, it was to attend a book festival in Lyon, or the Edgar Awards in New York. On the latter occasion I was beaten by a whippersnapper called Stephen King. On the bright side, I got to meet Stephen King. By the end of June, the book had gone to my publisher. July saw a few tweaks and edits but nothing really substantial. There was also time to celebrate my son Kit’s twenty-first birthday. Then August came, which meant the Edinburgh Festival. I had fun chairing several events at the International Book Festival, and witnessed my first standing ovation (for Edwyn Collins and Grace Maxwell). A week’s holiday in Kefalonia, and suddenly it was time to start interviews and plan ahead for publication day. Not that I’d been lazy, exactly. I wrote a long short story called The Travelling Companion for publication in the US, and an introduction for the reissue of James Crumley’s novel The Last Good Kiss. Oh yes, and a short story for the Christmas edition of New Statesman magazine, which should be hitting the shelves soon.
Even Dogs in the Wild appeared on 5 November and went straight to number one in the UK. As I type this, it has just spent its fourth week at the top of the chart, which is hugely satisfying. It seems there is, indeed, life in the old dog Rebus, with many of you commenting that he seems livelier than ever. Which leads me to think that he may be around again next year. Right now, all I know is that between January and June I’ll be writing yet another new book. I’ve no title, plot or theme but I’ve got a few weeks to mull these over. When the panic sets in, the adrenaline flows, and that’s usually when the idea dawns.
So: now to the real business of my December newsletter – to tell you my picks of the year. I’ve been trying to keep track of various purchases, so I can tell you that I bought twice as many albums as books this year (100+ versus 50+). On the music front, there was a strong start to the year from the likes of Belle and Sebastian, The Charlatans and The Waterboys. They didn’t quite make my top ten, though. Here’s what did (in no particular order):
Gaz Coombes – Matador
The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Musique de Film Imagine
Human Don’t Be Angry – Electric Blue
Kathryn Williams – Hypoxia
Trembling Bells – The Sovereign Self
Low – Ones and Sixes
New Order – Music Complete
Julia Holter – Have You In My Wilderness
Ludovico Einaudi – Elements
Pye Corner Audio – Prowler
You can listen to the Spotify playlist here.
As for books I really enjoyed, here are ten favourites:
Jenny Offill – Dept of Speculation
Stuart Evers – Your Father Sends His Love
Lavie Tidhar – A Man Lies Dreaming
Emily St John Mandel – Station Eleven
Benjamin Johncock – The Last Pilot
Oliver Harris – The Hollow Man
Hugo Wilcken – The Reflection
Cathy Rentzenbrink – The Last Act of Love
Kirstin Innes – Fishnet
Jonathan Coe – Number Eleven
My favourite film of the year – no contest – was Mad Max: Fury Road. In fact, I’ll be watching it again on the big screen this weekend at the Cromarty Crime Festival.
So that really was 2015. I’m taking a break for Christmas (apart from a couple of signings in Inverness and Edinburgh – see my Events page for details). In January there’s the small matter of a US tour for Even Dogs in the Wild. By then, we’ll all be older and wiser, eh? Have fun over Christmas. See you on the other side . . .