State of the Nation

Added on 03 February 2011

It's a bright afternoon in early February. The field where Simon Pegg and Nick Frost chased the swan is covered in seagulls, even though we're not really anywhere near the sea. Feasting on the bloody remains of last night's dead perhaps.

I've just finished learning to play Cee-Lo Green's Fuck You on the ukulele, although since it has the same three chords repeated throughout, as learning curves go it was a short, flat horizontal line. That was two minutes I'll not get back, but I'll be able to sing a cool - if moderately offensive - song at parties. Although I don't go to parties, so that maybe wasn't the best two minutes of the week.

Long run this morning. Training for a marathon in the spring. Neither London nor Paris nor Boston nor one of the other big city ones with 37,000 people. Instead, I've entered the marathon in Sturminster Newton, maximum entry 350. Can't understand the attraction of doing anything that 37,000 other people are doing at the same time. Other than watch sport on the TV. I mean, in the company of 37,000 people. I realise, if you go and do a marathon and you die, it's a more anonymous death in amongst so many people, which is preferable, but even then there's the possibility that you'll get caught dying live on TV, which is going to be really embarrassing. The Sturminster Newton marathon probably won't be live on BBC1.

Five years since I last ran a marathon. Somewhat inevitably this makes me five years older. Body creaks and objects. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Middle Age, and Hell followed with him. Don't look it, but somehow weigh 16lbs more than I did back then. Promises to be a long twenty-six miles.

As for the ongoing work here at Long Midnight Publishing...

The Twitter Experiment: Hmm. After about three months I have 28 followers. There are sheep who have more followers than that. One of Two just went on Facebook last week, and within three days she had twice as many friends as I have people following my Twats. I followed Simon Pegg for a while, because I could watch Simon Pegg eat grass and find it funny. But he wrote a lot and I just didn't care. And was he following me? So I just write fiction on Twitter. I feel, on all sorts of artistic levels, that it works. For today's work of literally genius I didn't even need the full 140 characters.


To die, to sleep, To sleep, perchance to dream; Aye, there's the rub, thought Barney. Still, time for some toast.

The Amazon Kindle Experiment: The current bestselling author on UK Kindle is Stephen Leather who had roughly 45,000 downloads in January. His advice is to cut the price and watch the downloads go through the roof. This was also the advice of my new literary agent (NLA). Each of the Barney Thomson books is now available on Kindle for 71p. Seriously, how astonishingly fantastic for the book-buying public is that? Maybe the ought-to-be-grateful book-buying public haven't noticed yet. While downloads did increase by around 300% from December to January, 300% of not very much still isn't very much. If the chap Leather is looking over his shoulder, it ain't at me.

21 Years On The Back of Dixie Klondyke's Spanish Guitar: Only printed a short run of this. Put it on Kindle, didn't plug it in any way, didn't send it to any reviewers, entered it for the Crimefest Last Laugh award. Let my NLA read it and he seemed to like it, much to my surprise. Thought that if I gave it a different title, and updated it so that it was obviously set in 2011, and not in antediluvian times such as it is, then it would be worthwhile pitching to publishers, which is something I've never done. So, I've done what he suggested, while taking it off Kindle and withdrawing it from the award. It has been unpublished. It'll become my lost book, sought after by desperate collectors once I'm dead. (Which may well be at some point during the Sturminster Newton marathon.)

We Are The Hanged Man: New crime novel, with all new characters. Work in progress. Quite enjoying it so far. Will now be getting passed to NLA, rather than publishing it straight off.

Barney Thomson: The future of Barney depends on what happens with the above two. In the short term, however, I'll probably put the full list of Barney novellas up on Kindle - Barney Thomson & The Face of Death, Barney Thomson & The Half-Blood PM and Barney Thomson & The Westminster Christmas Massacre - and by short term, I mean some time in the next three months. And of course there's Barney's daily outings on the Twatosphere.

Well, it was bright when I started writing this, but it's not anymore. The grey gloom of dusk encroaches.