This week was an attempt to focus on writing the sequel to The Gates, given that The Whisperers is released in Ireland at the end of next week, and with that will come publicity, and signing, and all of the duties that are connected to the writing of a book that has been finished, and thus get in the way of the writing of the book that has yet to be completed. After that will come the UK tour and publicity, and then Australia and New Zealand, and then South Africa (which is, admittedly, timed to catch some matches in the World Cup, and therefore does not qualify me for any sympathy).
Mind you, I can understand the impulse to cut myself off entirely for a time before all of this stuff begins, but it just isn't possible given that there are always other demands to be met. I suspect much of this is due to the fact that I'm a control freak, and unwilling to let others do stuff unless I can stick my fingers in the pie as well. I'd like to think that it's because I know what's best, but it isn't. I just like sticking my fingers in pies.
So, this week, the following matters arose:
1) There are two quotations from modern works used in The Whisperers that have to be cleared. Kate, the lovely and very efficient person who helps me with clearances, makes contact with Richard Currey, the author of the first quotation, who turns out to be a lovely man, and generously grants permission for me to use his words. (And if you haven't read Currey's work, then I urge you to read Crossing Over and Fatal Light, and to visit his website at www.richardcurrey.com.) The second quotation is proving more difficult, even though the book in question is published by a major publishing house. The page reference is required, and then a photocopy of the page in question. Meanwhile, the deadline approaches for putting the US edition to bed. I could just excise the quotation, but it's important to the book. I can't find my own copy of the original work because I've let someone else borrow it, but you'd kind of think that the publisher might have one to hand. Instead, we order another copy online to send to the publisher, the same publisher that publishes the book we've just ordered. I just want them to clear it, so by this point I'd happily have delivered it by hand. Now there's nothing else to do but wait.
2) My British publishers are launching an online campaign, involving a large game element, to coincide with publication. I've written some extra material for it, and have to sign off on some other elements. I feel I should be doing more, but I'm not entirely sure what, exactly. I suspect that everyone else involved understands the online stuff better than I do, so in this case I may be better off relinquishing some of that fabled control.
3) The granting of the license for the final production of the CDs goes right to the wire, but it's finally confirmed that everything has been cleared. Kate has worked heroically to get it completed in time, assisted by the kindness of MCPS in Ireland, the willingness of the record labels to move quickly on granting permission, and the nice people at Trend who will manufacture the final product, but it's been a hideously stressful experience, and is likely to be a very expensive one. I won't do it again. I think I said that the last time, but this time it's done me in. Much as I love compiling the CDs, and giving people the opportunity to hear music that I think complements the books, the process involves a great deal of negotiation, and legalities, and it opens a hole in my bank account through which money pours like water down a plug hole. I also end up losing sleep over the possibility that I might have done something wrong, that I failed to dot a particular contractual 'i' or cross a legal 't'. All of that worrying takes a bit of the fun out of it. Still, it's finished, and people will get a chance to listen to it when we start giving out copies with the book next week. It's an eclectic mix, but I think it works.
4) There's a launch for the '50 Irish Books of the Decade' (www.bookofthedecade.ie). I like Bert Wright, who is one of the guiding hands behind the idea, and generally a decent human being, so I trot along. The Lovers has been chosen as one of the books, even if I'm not entirely sure why that title should be the one, but then I'm a poor judge of my own work. It's lovely to be included, whatever the book, although the fact that there's a vote to pick one book makes me uncomfortable. The books in question are all so different that it seems a little unfair to ask people to judge them against one another, but competitions get publicity, I suppose. I grab a cup of coffee, listen to the voiceover say nice things about me, and chat with a couple of the other authors a bit self-consciously, mainly because the wire on my brace has come loose and is doing a good job of impaling my gum. My picture turns up in the paper the next day, and because of my position I appear to be smaller than Cecilia Ahern, who is very sweet, and very petite. I look like her hired gnome.
5) There are email interviews to do. I hate email interviews. They're great for the journalists involved, in one way, because there's no transcription. The downside for the journalist is that the element of human interaction that makes an interview interesting is sacrificed as a result. The downside for the author is that you end up typing up the interview yourself, which is really time-consuming. It's one thing to answer the same questions over and over in a series of interviews, which I don't actually mind doing too much because I try to vary the answers as much as possible, and hence each interview ends up following a slightly different track, but it's hard to remain enthusiastic when you have to write the answers down. It's like doing an exam on your own work. There are also various requests for interviews, library visits, prison visits, workshops and talks. I can't fit them all in, and I hate saying 'no'. There's no easy solution to that problem.
6) I've fallen behind on Facebook again. I like the element of interaction that it offers, both between author and reader and between the readers themselves. I think I get intimidated by it, because I don't log on to it every day. The mail builds up, and I get more intimidated by the volume, and I let it build up some more, and I get even more intimidated, and so on in a vicious circle until I eventually log on and find that I have 70 emails to answer. Still, once I get into them I enjoy answering them, because, by and large, they're kind and flattering, and it's not hard to answer a question from someone who is interested in your work and has taken the trouble to drop a line. The problem is that it's time spent at the computer that doesn't involve working on the book, and it's hard to go from answering emails in detail to working on a chapter. You have to step away from the computer for a while afterwards, and then it can be hard to return to it. As for MySpace, I think I may just have to accept that I can do Facebook or MySpace, but not both.
7) I have a pile of books building up beside my desk, all of them seeking supportive quotes. The last time I looked, it was into double figures. Two of the books need to have quotes by the end of next week if they're to be of any use to the authors. I decide to read those two, then give myself a break for a while and read some of the books that I've chosen myself, and for which I've paid good money. It's nice to have the opportunity to read books that have not yet been published, but the sheer volume of them means that you could just read those and never read anything else. After a while, I get the urge to read books that were published a long time ago, and whose authors are dead and therefore have no interest in whether I liked the book or not. After all, it's not like Charles Dickens's editor is going to drop me a line and say, "You just have to read Bleak House because it's great, and I know Charles and I would appreciate any support that you can offer." Anyway, for what it's worth, Bleak House is great. They can put that on the cover. "Great - John Connolly." In the end, the first of the books, Blood Men by Paul Cleave is very good, and I get through it in a couple of days. I've only just started the second, but I know the author, and I think it will be fine. After all, he's a Liverpool fan, so how bad can he be?
Now, back to the writing . . .
This week John read
Blood Men by Paul Cleave
and listened to
Come Ride With Me . . . Wide Open Road (box set) by The Triffids