I lived in Bachelors Way as a pre-teenager and wrote some stories about my early life, with no intention of writing an autobiography, mainly because I doubt if anybody would be interested. It turned into a collective biography of the amazing group of people I grew up with, most of whom have now read it. Worth doing? Unexpected catharsis. Highly recommended.
That was a first personal journey. It led immediately to a second, present Work in Progress. It’s called FINGERS. It describes the gradual life changes caused by Inclusion Body Myositis (IBM), a degenerative muscle-wasting condition. I’ve chosen to describe it wrapped in a political thriller about a pick-pocket who is diagnosed with the condition. It’s hard going but I think it will be worth it, if only to draw attention to this little-known condition. Fifteen chapters completed. Another five (?) to go.
New novel. First draft finished. Looking for offer of publication. This is a new departure for me – a serious political novel, on the dark side.
I’m holding a fat paperback of TAFFIN ON BALANCE, with its inviting cover by Steven Amos. Deeply satisfying and maybe I’ll reread it at some stage, but it’s strange how your own book recedes into history once it’s in your hand. You’re only as good as your next work and that’s all that counts at the moment.
I’ve just finished CRUST. It started as a short story, but my wife read it and felt I should develop it as a novel. So during the time TAFFIN ON BALANCE was getting ready for publication I set myself to CRUST. It’s finished and submitted now. Watch this space.
So while we’re waiting, on with something new…
And now the job’s done. Ebook already on sale. Book due in bookshops in the near future. I hope readers enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Taffin is an old mate; it was great to pick up with him and inhabit his world again after so long. Moving on: new novel in progress daily. That’s what authors do.
Just finished editing first set of proofs. Cover approved (brilliant). Publishers doing a great job. Amazing how much work needs to be done even after the main work is finished.
As publication date gets closer, focus on detail sharpens up. Reliving the whole story, wondering whether to change a name here, shift a comma there or rephrase a passage of dialogue. Self discipline now requires relaxing muscle memory and LEAVE IT ALONE.
Taffin on Balance off and running now. Next I’ll see of it will be galley proofs. Strangely easy to move on to the next story (short? novel?) at this stage. Keep writing and you won’t have time to dwell on the time everything takes to reach tangible form.
‘Taffin on Balance’ has taken first steps towards publication. This is a weird time. I’ve been here before but for some reason this one feels special. Perhaps I’ve forgotten – the latest one always does. The cover is clear in my mind (courtesy of a friend of my son’s who’s put it together for me); but the next stage is not so clear. That’s what makes life interesting.
My thanks to Paul Bishop and Gary Lovisi in the United States for their generous reviews of the three previous Taffin novels. I look forward to their opinions of Taffin on Balance.
IT’S THE WAITING THAT GETS YOU. TAFFIN ON BALANCE will succeed or fail depending on the publisher. I have less control over its fate now it’s finished than I did at the start of Chapter One. Strange.
WHAT NEXT? In this sort of no-man’s-land period, instinct says put your feet up for a bit. Overridden in a heartbeat by another instinct that says: ‘The deck’s clear; write what you like; you haven’t put a foot wrong yet’. Well aware that I have at least five years’ work ready for attention. TAFFIN can look after himself while I line up the next effort. Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.
SO. What next? There’s a short story that’s nearly finished. Haven’t decided on the end – which suggests I may have to look at the beginning again. Ironically, I started this story before TAFFIN ON BALANCE and still haven’t got it right. SO. That’s next.
Strange how the dedications seem to have taken longer to write than the last chapter. I have to thank my old mate AUSTIN LEGON, for supplying the final two words in the book: ‘Be lucky’. Finally though, I wish to dedicate Taffin on Balance to the memory of my lifelong friend BRIAN LECOMBER, Championship Display Pilot, holder of the Segrave Trophy, and unswerving supporter of the Taffin books from the beginning. Finding succinct phrasing for such a debt of gratitude will always present a challenge. God’s speed Old Chum.
TAFFIN ON BALANCE is complete, edited, ready to go. This ought to be the ultimate state for a writer. So why am I wandering about, muttering, kicking things and eyeing up the drinks cupboard? The truth is, a group of fictitious characters are mates and I’ve enjoyed spending time with them. They’re all in fine shape. It’s the author who deserves your sympathy. Strangely difficult to let go but in a few weeks this book has to be out there, out of my hands.
TAFFIN ON BALANCE is the title of my fourth TAFFIN novel. Two chapters to go and looking forward to tying up loose ends by the autumn. It’s amazing living with the old cast many years after TAFFIN first wandered into my subconscious. He has matured a little. He seems to have learnt more than his author in the intervening years.
Taffin moves slowly and thinks fast. No change there then. One of the great luxuries of authorship is never having to lose contact with old friends, and revisiting Lasherham after a long break is like hooking up with old mates. Three chapters in, they’re as fresh in my mind as when we first met.