And so it was that on a Friday morning, in a restaurant in Sloane Square, I realised that my life would never be quite the same again. Over eggs Benedict and a pot of tea, I agreed to an endeavour that will find me hopelessly out of my depth, yet no doubt in exactly the place I was destined to be.
But more of that later. In the meantime, as another frenetic year slips into its final act, I find myself contemplating my place upon the stage. Most pressing, of course, is the matter of finishing the third PorterGirl novel. I have been distracted by writing a Poirot parody when I should really have been working on this, but as the second book was only published in June, I don’t feel too badly about it.
Then there was the horror anthology, The Box Under The Bed, which went to number one in the Amazon charts twice and features two short stories by my good self. That reminds me – I have another anthology awaiting my submissions. This time the genre is much more familiar ground – humour – so a few thousand words should only take up an afternoon, at most.
Rather unexpectedly, my satirical murder mystery nonsense blog Who Shot Tony Blair? is up for publication in novel form next year. It will require a fair amount of work to take it from its current state to something fit for a bookshelf, but the bare bones of it are there nonetheless. There is an appetite for post-Brexit, pre-dystopian satire, it would seem – which brings me neatly back to the restaurant in Sloane Square, London.
People will often come to me and say ‘I’ve got a great idea for a book, you should write it!’ And quite often these ideas are very good, but if I spent my time writing other people’s books I would never get around to writing my own. However, when the people saying this are impeccably connected senior advisors to the not only the British government but governments around the world, people who have spent the best part of two decades at the forefront of politics and economics, I think it prudent to pay particular attention. Particularly when such people offer to buy me breakfast.
In a few short hours I learn more about how the world works that I think I ever wanted to know – the people pulling the strings, their ideologies and the true end games in a web of power, manipulation and politics. With the rise of extreme views on both the left and right becoming commonplace, Brexit appears to be the very least of our worries. People tell them they should write a book. But they don’t know how to write a book. They would very much like me to write the book. Ideally, a light-hearted, easy-reading fiction that will make the complex and dark possibilities of the near future accessible to a wide audience.
The problem is, the concept is rather too complex for me to get a handle on, let alone write the buggering thing. Not to worry. I will be taught and trained in everything I need to know. The royalty agreement is generous. The forward will be written by a prominent public figure and unfettered access to the national and international press means that marketing will be simple and extensive. Global, in fact. Despite the nagging inclination towards the feeling that I am getting in way over my head, I simply cannot not write this book.
I agree to write the book.
Work will begin in the New Year and we aim to publish in 2019. And what a lot of very interesting work it will be. As I make my way towards the King’s Road to meet a visiting American friend to discuss his outfit for the Brit Awards, I marvel at just how different life has become, since my days portering at a Cambridge college.