Monday, June 27, 2011

Who need enemies...

...when you have friends like my former boss at The Budapest Times, Allan Boyko. Allan seemed to very much enjoy taking the piss out of me for the Pratchett Prize win in the article below. I would like to point out I actually didn't see the child, and was only smiling because I was about to run into the underground and escape the horse charge, not because I was having an insane amount of fun rioting.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Pratchett Prize day out

One week after Apocalypse Cow won the Terry Pratchett Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now 1st Novel Prize along with Half Sick of Shadows, by David Logan, I have finally got it into my thick skull that I am going to be a published author.

Now, a measured, intelligent individual would think more carefully about what goes on his blog, as some people other than his wife may eventually start reading it. Not me! I am going to continue to spout utter tosh.

I wasn’t going to bore everybody with the details of last Tuesday, but I’ve had a few requests for more information, so I suppose I must.

First, though, I’d like to categorically deny the many accusations that the ginger Logan mafia stitched up the competition by kidnapping the judges’ family members and holding them at gunpoint in the children’s section of Waterstones Piccadilly. We used knives, and locked them in the basement.

The day of the award was very long, stretched out by the fact I spent the kind of restless night a child has waiting for Santa to squeeze down the chimney. In my case, it felt like Santa had gorged his beardy face on one too many mince pies and caught his flabby gut on the brickwork, so long did the night last. Finally, however, dawn broke and we jumped on an Easy Jet flight (hey, we’re still poor) down to London.

Much of the day was spent in nervous anticipation, partly in our friends’ Perry and Matthew’s flat, partly in Paula’s Café in Hoxton, where I alternated between stuffing fish and chips into my mouth and practicing my author face in case I won:



I clearly have some work to do, as my attempts to look authorial fell well short and landed in the area of “squinting into the sun/ready for a nap”.  Rest assured, I will be studying other author portraits to search for just the right air of gravitas, although maybe I would be better off sticking with my usual gormless expression since my book is perhaps not the most serious work of fiction you will ever read.

Happily, P&M’s flat turned out to be located in a neighbourhood ideal for a location in my next novel (in progress), so I managed to get some research in, which involved sitting on their balcony, smoking and drinking tea, while I took lots of pictures. Half-arsed research over, and unable to sit still for longer than a millisecond, I hauled Nats down to Waterstones Piccadilly early. It turns out this was a good move, because it gave me the opportunity to chat with the lovely Dave Beynon, whose novel The Platinum Ticket was also shortlisted (Dave would have been an equally worthy winner, and I am sure he will have no problem finding a publisher for his work). 



It turns out we had both been desperately searching for clues as to our chances, stopping just short of consulting the tea leaves, and continued to analyse every eyebrow twitch and glance in our direction from the Transworld people.

Sir Terry obviously doesn’t watch the X-Factor or Britain’s Got Talent, and thankfully did not insert a screamingly tense 30-second pause before announcing the names of the winners – although I must admit, I did feel a lot like a talent show contestant, as the following picture taken by Nats just before the announcement shows:



David Logan was announced as the first of the joint winners, leaving one place for the remaining five shortlisted candidates. When Sir Terry said the second novel had won “despite the awful pun”, I knew it was me. To be honest, I can’t remember too much about what came next. I know I made a short speech. I can only hope I didn’t say anything too stupid, although the chances of such an occurrence are quite slim. I know I posed for some pictures. You may notice that my cheesy grin somewhat ruins the moody vibe of the black clothes sported by the two winners and Sir Terry, so I at least know I was happy.





I then had a brief chat with Sir Terry, a longer chat with his right-hand man Rob (henceforth to be known as ‘The Enforcer’), and Marianne and Lynsey from Transworld, and was introduced to Simon, the editor who will face the unenviable task of knocking my manuscript into shape. David and I, along with our family and friends, were the last to leave the bar, which I can assure you had absolutely nothing to do with the free booze and canapés being handed out.

P&M took us to the Vista Bar at Trafalgar Hotel, a rooftop joint boasting amazing views of London’s skyline, where we were joined by our old pal Carol and drank quite a few cocktails before staggering out onto the streets in search of a taxi.



All-in-all, one of the best days of my life – behind my marriage to Natalie and the birth of our daughter Charlotte.