Today is Shakespeare’s birthday (he’ll be 448 years old – although he looks younger) and the UNESCO international day of the book. It is also World Book Night. Tonight 1 million books are to be given away free. This is an international event. It is celebrated in Britain, the USA and Germany. World Book Night is partnered with the BBC. My book, King Crow, has been picked as a recommended read by David Peace. That means that for each copy of The Damned Utd given away on the night, there will be the first three chapters of my novel together with a recommendation from David Peace himself. I’m delighted to be picked by an author I have long admired.
My book, King Crow, is the only debut novel selected for the scheme. Other recommended writers are: Graham Greene, Jorge Luis Borges, Wilkie Collins, Jeanette Winterson and GK Chesterton. I’m very pleased to be among this illustrious company. It’s been an interesting few months. Just before Christmas I won The Guardian’s Not the Booker award. Through the extra publicity, the publishers, Bluemoose Books, quickly sold out of the first edition and we are now onto a second edition of the book. On top of that, a very big film company is showing interest in adapting the novel (although I can’t tell you who).
I’m hoping that the additional publicity generated by World Book Night will mean another push for my book. I’m also really interested in the idea of reaching people who wouldn’t ordinarily pick up a novel. I attended an opening of an exhibition of an avant-garde artist recently. I was surprised by how few people there were. Where were his family? Where were his friends? When I asked him why they hadn’t turned up, he said, ‘I don’t need an audience to validate my work.’ Well, I think I’m a long way from that stance. I like prizes, I like awards, and I like audiences. If I didn’t want to sell books I wouldn’t write them. I don’t see any shame in aspiring to reach a wide audience. I always hoped my book would be popular with all ages and all backgrounds. I don’t like the sound of one hand clapping.
I’m appearing at Hebden Bridge Library for World Book Night at 7pm. Also, I have just been given another commission from the BBC to write an afternoon play on Radio 4, called Dead Man’s Suit. It will be broadcast in January 2013. It’s a supernatural story about a down-on-his-luck man, who goes for an interview for his dream job, wearing a charity shop suit that fits him like a glove. To his great surprise, he gets the job, and his luck seems to take a turn in the right direction, until the dead man whose suit he is wearing, starts to talk to him.