Tuesday, 30 December 2008


I get asked quite a lot whatever happened to the movie version of Cycle of Violence - Crossmaheart. Despite some good reviews and festival appearances, it never got a proper release in the cinema or appeared on DVD or video. It's more than ten years old now, but surprisingly enough it is still turning up on TV - albeit on a channel you might not be a regular viewer of. It you have Sky (I'm not sure how many of the other services have it) you'll have access to a movie channel called Movies for Men. It sounds like a porn channel (and late at night, sometimes is), but at least half a dozen times in the last month Crossmaheart has cropped up there, usually in the wee small hours. So keep an eye on the schedules, you might see it again soon.

2009 and all that.....

.....oh my God, it is nearly five months since I last updated this, despite promising myself I was going to chat happily away on a regular basis. I suppose part of the problem has been that last time I passed comment on something here it got lifted by a tabloid newspaper and turned into a big story along the lines of 'Bateman Blasts BBC Bosses'. As an ex-journalist I should have known that opening my mouth, even though tongue was firmly in cheek, might have had consequences. It is also, I suppose, a lesson to everyone who looks upon blogging as something akin to a diary which is only read by a few privleged friends. It's not, anyone can read it and steal it and twist it. Paranoid? Moi?

Anyhoo, a new year and what is there to look forward to?

Well, Mystery Man, the next novel (two chapters below) is published on April 30. There will be launch parties for sure in No Alibis in Belfast, and I think probably in Bangor Library - that's my home town. I'll also be reading from it at two events in Paris in May. There should be other events lined up nearer the time, and I'll keep you posted on those.

I enjoyed writing Mystery Man so much that I'm already half way through the follow up - The Day of the Jack Russell.

This month also sees me start work on an original television script called 'Alice Glass', which I'm quite excited about. Can't tell you much more about it as yet; if it doesn't go as a television series I may turn it into a novel.

The reason I say 'if it doesn't go' is that the chances of any script being made are ridiculously small, there are only a very limited number of outlets and an awful lot of competition for them. Plus you can spend an awful lot of time working on something which ultimately doesn't get made and can't be used anywhere else. For example - I spent six months just passed working on a script based on a series of crime novels by another author, only for the project to be suddenly dropped. Obviously my script was FANTASTIC! Problem is if a project I've created myself doesn't work out I can use the material else where, but when it's based on somebody else's work I can't. At least Alice Glass will be all my own, so I'm free to turn it into that novel, or at least a very long narrative poem if the telly doesn't work out!

After Alice then, the plan is to concentrate on National Anthem, a play I've been commissioned to write by a young Belfast theatre company. (They produced Hurricane, about snooker legend Alex Higgins, a couple of years ago, which transferred to the West End). This'll be my first attempt at something for the stage. I've written about a third of it already and am really enjoying the change of scene. If all goes according to plan that'll be on the boards some time in 2010.

Radio Copeland, the sitcom pilot I've written for BBC Radio is due to be recorded shortly. We're just about to get into casting that.

Although my documentary on Belfast for BBC NI never actually got made in the end, for a whole host of reasons, I'm now talking to them about another project which would be VERY EXCITING, but let's not count those old chickens just yet.

Is that enough to be going on with? As ever I have half a dozen other things I WANT to be writing, but for now......

Monday, 4 August 2008

Mystery Man - Chapters One and Two


THERE aren`t many private eyes in Belfast, and now, apparently, there’s one less. I know this because his shop was right next to mine. His name was Malcolm Carlyle and he seemed a decent sort. He would call in for a chat and a browse now and again when business was slow. His business, that is. His business was called Private Eye, big yellow letters on a black background. Then one day he didn`t open up, and I never saw him again, and that was the start of my problems because he was still listed in the Yellow Pages, but when people couldn`t get a response on the phone well, they thought, he must be good, he`s so busy, he`s changed his number, gone ex-directory, so they`d come down to check what was happening with their cases, find the door locked, stand back and take a look at the place and see my shop next door and think there must be some kind of a connection because you don`t have a shop called Private Eye and a shop called No Alibis sitting side by side for no reason at all. So they`d come in and furtively browse through the crime books, all the time eying me up behind the counter, trying to work out if I could possibly be connected to the private eye they were looking for and if there was a connecting door between the shops, and whether I did this bookselling thing as a kind of respectable cover for my night time manoeuvres on the cold, dark streets of Belfast. They`d gotten it wrong of course. Book selling is more cut throat than you can possibly imagine.
The first fella who actually approached me was called Robert Geary; he was a civil servant in the Department of Education in Bangor, he was married, he had three children aged from nine to twelve and he supported Manchester United. We all have our crosses to bear. He told me all this while making a meal out of paying for an Agatha Christie novel, so I knew something was up. No-one had bought a Christie in years.
He said, `My wife wears leather trousers.`
I nodded. You meet all types.
`She`s forty-two,` he said, and I raised a concerned eyebrow. `I know, I keep hinting that she’s maybe she`s too old for them, but she doesn`t get it. The problem is she asked me to get them cleaned at our usual place, it`s the only dry cleaners she trusts, except I was late for work and so I took them to this other place, do you know it - it`s called Pressed for Time on the Castlereagh Road? - but they lost them and they were very nice about it and paid me what they cost, except my wife threw a fit anyway and called me all the names of the day. Then a couple of weeks ago I was out shopping and I saw the exact same trousers walking down Royal Avenue, except no sooner had I seen them than I lost them in the crowds , so I went back to the dry cleaners and said I`d seen them walking down Royal Avenue but they said there was nothing they could do, so I didn`t want to phone the police because they`d tell me to take a run and jump and so I phoned Malcolm Carlyle, Private Eye, and he said he`d see what he could do, but then when I didn`t hear back from him and he didn`t answer his phone, I thought I`d come down and see him. Except he`s not there.`
`No he`s not,` I said.
`And now I have to get them back, because as sure as hell the wife`s going to be out shopping one day and she`ll see them and then there`ll be blood on the streets, and some of its going to be hers, and some of its going to be the other woman`s, and some of it`s going to be mine and I can do without that. I`m five years from retirement. We retire early in the Civil Service. We`re going to buy a place in Cyprus.`
`Why don`t you just get her some new ones?` I asked.
`Because these were a designer pair, I bought them in America, in Texas, near the Alamo, it`s my favourite film, there`s not another pair like them in Ireland, and possibly continental Europe. `
`I see,` I said, and charged him £4.50 for the Christie.
He left me his number in case the private eye turned up again, and I said it seemed unlikely, but he said keep it anyway, and if there`s anything you can do I`d very much appreciate it, and then he hurried out because there was another customer who`d come in and now wanted served, so I didn`t get the chance to ask what he meant by if there`s anything you can do. The next customer was just looking for directions. He wanted to know where Queens University was. I said I wasn’t sure and sold him a street map. It was only around the corner, but the profit was the difference between burger and steak.

Over the next couple of days I was up to my neck in stock taking and didn`t give the leather trousers another thought, but then I finally got back behind the till and found the note I`d made of his number and seeing as how I`d an average of forty-three minutes to kill between customers I started thinking about the possibilities, and that`s how I came to phone Pressed for Time to enquire about the mysterious disappearance and even more mysterious re-appearance of Mrs Geary`s leather trousers.
`And you are, who?` the man at the other end said with enough suspicion for me to say the first name that came to mind, other than my own, for I had a business and its reputation to protect, `Lawrence Block.`
`Like the crime writer,` said the man, unexpectedly.
`Like the crime writer,` I said. `Except I`m definitely not in the book business.`
`What business would you be in then?’ he asked chirpily. ‘You know, I can`t go giving out confidential information to just anyone who phones up asking.`
I said, `I`m representing Mr Geary and Mrs Geary in the matter of their leather trousers, and by the by, what kind of confidential information would a dry cleaners have to be worried about giving out anyway?`
`Oh you`d be surprised,` he said. `We do police uniforms and prison officers uniforms and….. ` And then he caught himself on and said, `But that`s confidential. I`ll, ah, get the manager.`

After a bit, the manager came on and said gruffly, `I`ve had it up to my back teeth with these leather trousers. Even though we don`t accept responsibility for lost or damaged items we paid for them. I don`t see what his problem is.`
`Well they had sentimental value,` I said.
`Sentimental leather trousers?` he barked. But then he sighed and his tone lightened a little and he said, `It takes all sorts. Mr Block, is it?`
`Call me Larry.`
`What are you, a solicitor?`
I cleared my throat in a positive manner and said, `If you don`t accept any responsibility for lost or damaged items, why did you pay Mr Geary for the missing trousers.`
`Well the fact of the matter is we didn`t pay Mr Geary, at least, not directly. We send our leather items out for specialist cleaning. They said they were damaged in the cleaning process, and they instructed us to pay Mr Geary and promised to reimburse us. Although I`m still waiting.`
`Well if they said they were damaged, how come those very same leather trousers were last seen hurrying down Royal Avenue at a great rate of knots?`
`Well I don`t know. You`d have to take it up with them.`
So he gave me their number and said they were on the Newtownards Road and I thanked him for his time and still suitably enthused, or bored, I was about to phone them when the shop door opened and a man came in and asked if I could recommend the new John Grisham and I said, yes, if you`re a moron.


Well it turns out John Grisham was on a signing tour of the UK, and not wanting to cause pandemonium wherever he went he was just calling at bookshops unannounced, which struck me as an inefficient way to do things, but each onto their own. His face is right there on the back of his books, so I get to look at him at least six times a day, and of course I recognised you straight off I said, although in truth, shorn of good lighting and make-up he looked a lot heavier and his hair was longer and unkempt and his skin was blotchy and he seemed to have some kind of a rash on his neck. It`s lucky that I myself was born with an honest kind of a face, as he seemed to accept that my off the cuff remark was a typical example of our much heralded Troubles humour, etc. etc..
I made him a cup of coffee while he signed copies of his books, and seeing as how he was an American and not wishing to seem overawed by his wealth and celebrity, I related to him the story of Mrs Geary`s leather trousers, putting extra emphasis on the fact that they`d originated in Texas, which is somewhere in the general region of where I believe he hails from originally, but he didn`t seem very interested and kept trying to steer the conversation back to exactly how many copies of his next novel I planned to order, which wasn`t a subject I was keen to explore because people can snap them up for half price in the supermarkets so there’s no point in me bringing in more than a few token copies. When he finished signing his books, he moved on to signing copies of books by other authors, which I thought was a little strange, but there didn`t seem any harm in it. In fact, it was quite novel and I thought it might help me to move a lot of dead stock. There probably wouldn`t be a huge profit in it, but it could mean the difference between eight slices of cooked ham in a re-sealable packet and a fresh gammon steak. But after he had gone and I was beginning to put the signed books out on display I realized that he had signed most of his books `Johnny Grisham` and some of them `David Grisham` and several `The Lord God of All Hosts` and one `How much does your piano weigh?`, and I began to reflect on the capacity of the Irish to fall for anyone with an American accent, be they pauper, paranoid or president, and whatever gibberish they might care to spout.
I was not, therefore, in the best of moods when I finally came to phone Stick to Me, the leather goods cleaners, shortly before closing time. I made a point of not identifying myself this time, saying merely that I was phoning on behalf of a client, a Mr Geary, but before I could get on to the substance of my complaint the man at the other end said, `Is that Mr Block?`
I cleared my throat in a positive manner and demanded to know what had happened to the leather trousers.
` They got torn up by the machinery. They were damaged beyond repair. `
`And yet they were spotted galloping down Royal Avenue.`
`We heard that. We can only presume that somebody rescued them from the skip behind our shop and stitched them back together.`
I immediately pounced on that. `I thought they were damaged beyond repair?`
`Beyond the standard of repair we pride ourselves on. How close was your witness to them? They probably looked like a dog`s dinner. Mr Block, Larry, the trousers are gone, we paid up, we paid up above and beyond, I think you should drop this - while you still can.`
It sat in the air for several long moments.
Then I cut the line. I put the receiver down and stood there, quite shocked by this unexpected turn of events. While you still can. I was being warned off. Threatened, even. It wasn`t even a veiled threat. It was explicit, if understated, like a killer in mittens.
The phone rang and I thanked God for the distraction. I said, `Hello, No Alibis.`
And the same voice said, `Is that Larry?`
My own voice rose a couple of octaves as I gave him an innocent, `Larry?`
And he said, `Larry Block. I was speaking to him a minute ago and I got cut off and I hit caller ID and then I called the number and you answered the phone.`
`Well, I`m sorry, there`s no Larry here.`
`What`s the name of that place again?`
`What place?`
`You answered the phone and said hello no something.`
`Ah. No. You misheard. I said hello, Noah. Noah Alibees. That`s my name. It`s French Canadian originally. I design hats. Are you calling about a hat?`
It seemed to do the trick. He quickly apologised and rang off. When I put the phone down I found that my hands were damp, my shirt was sticking to my skin and my heart was beating ninety to the dozen.

Two days a week I employee a student called Jeff to mind the shop while I sit in the back office trying to make my books balance. He’s keen and writes poetry and belongs to Amnesty International, but he’ll grow out of all of these things. My office is close enough to the till so that I can hear what’s going on in the store, in particular if Jeff is misusing the phone to call either his girlfriend or some Government agency to demand that a political prisoner not be repatriated to Sierra Leone. In light of the previous day’s threat I had considered not allowing Jeff to answer the phone at all, but a cursory examination of the books told me I wasn’t in any position to turn away potential business, so by way of compromise I instructed Jeff to answer any incoming calls with a French accent, which he managed passably well, and to be as vague as possible until he was able to ascertain the nature of the enquiry. Vagueness for Jeff, truth be told, wasn’t going to be a huge stretch.
I made him repeat Noah Alibees over and over until he got it just right. Then I said that if anyone called and asked for Larry he was to reply, `There is no Larry here, would you like to buy a hat?` Towards noon I was just beginning to think that I might have gotten hold of the wrong end of the stick. There had been four phone calls, all of them either from customers or publishers reps. But then the fifth call came in and my carefully constructed cover story quickly began to unravel. I heard Jeff say, `Noah Alibees, would you like to buy a hat? ` and then, `Yes, hats, all different types.` And then. `No there`s nobody called Larry Block here.` I moved from my desk in the back to the body of the shop. ` Nope, no Lawrence Block either.` Then with a piece of inspired improvisation Jeff added. `You`d have to go to a mystery book shop to find Lawrence Block.` Jeff saw me; he smiled and gave me the thumbs up. Then he said, `No trouble at all,` and hung up. When I approached the till he said, `You look a little pale, what`s the matter?`
I put my hands on the counter to steady myself, took a deep breath and said, `I`m being intimidated by the owner of a shop which specializes in the cleaning and repair of leather goods.`
Jeff gave this due consideration. Then he said, `Somebody`s scrawled all over the John Grisham books.`

* I just took a notion to put these opening chapters up. The book isn't due out until next year. Some of you will have read a version of this in the original short story I wrote a couple of years ago, 'The Case of Mrs Geary's Leather Trousers'. Needless to say this is a work of fiction.

Friday, 1 August 2008

And the award goes to:

A few weeks ago I chose to spend some time at a crime writing festival in the South of France rather than go to Rotherham where one of my children's books was shortlisted for an award. Doh! Should have gone to Rotherham, where Titanic 2020 has scooped their book of the year.

According to their press release: Children have been very positive about the selection of books this year, but the overwhelming favourite was “Titanic 2020” by Colin Bateman – the announcement of this news at the end of the proceedings was met with a loud roar of approval. Authors recognise the importance of the award because it is chosen by children, the very people we hope will buy and enjoy their books. A book signing took place on the afternoon giving children the chance to meet their favourite authors and the authors the chance to meet their young audiences.

This year’s shortlist:
The White Giraffe Lauren St John Orion Children’s
The Pig Who Saved the World Paul Shipton Puffin
Oranges in No Man’s Land Elizabeth Laird MacMillan Children’s
At the House of the Magician Mary Hooper Bloomsbury
Titanic 2020 Colin Bateman Hodder Children’s
Snatched Graham Marks Usborne

So there you go!

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Calling Radio Copeland

The books will always be the main thing, but I write them relatively quickly. Because I can only really publish one a year I've a lot of time on my hands, so I like to try different things - hence last year's documentary or King Billy the Opera (which is now unlikely to appear any time soon, as the company involved didn't get the funding it needed). You might say, I'm Divorcing Jack of all tradesm master of one.... But I do have a kind of 'to do' list, one of which involves scoring for Liverpool at Wembley, and another has always been to write something for radio. Actually, one of the first things I ever wrote was a radio play for a BBC competition - needless to say I didn't win!

A few months ago I contributed to a radio documentary marking thirty years of punk in Northern Ireland - it was produced by Owen McFadden, originally a member of the very fine Protex - and we got talking about me maybe doing something original for radio. Fast forward to....well, NOW, and lo and behold I've written something called Radio Copeland which has been greenlit for a pilot and which we'll hopefully start recording in Belfast after the summer. Not much I can tell you about it apart from it's set in a radio station on a fictitious version of Copeland Island and has been the most fun to write of anything I've done in a while. Is it funny? Well it will be once we've added the laughter track.

I will, er, keep you posted.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Allo, allo

I've just returned from the 11th Festival Inernational du Roman Noir held at Frontignan in the South of France - well someone has to go to these things, and the alternative was a children's book event in Rotherham . It was, basically, four days of consuming a lot of rose wine and struggling with my limited French. And by limited I mean NONE. I was appearing on two panels discussing religion and politics in the first case and in the second, Sartre's comment that 'hell is other people'. Yes, all very intellectural; needless to say I failed to rise to the occasion and blamed most of everything on albinos.

Cracking weather, of course, which is a bit of a nightmare for The Big Freckle, but I was able to just about survive by darting from doorway to doorway and shadow to shadow.

Met up with some nice people - crime writer Jake LaMarr, artist Miles Hyman, film maker and writer Doug Headline - who also translated wonderfully for me in one of the panels,but was also very fortunate to meet up with a friend from my home town who has lived just outside Frontignan for the past twenty years.

The great thing about hearing the Northern Ireland accent spoken outside of the old place is that sometimes you hear things you've long since grown so accustomed to at home that you don't notice them any more. In this particular case my host had retained the Northern Irish habit of adding 'so I do' to the end of sentences, or variations of the same, so she had. We both got hugely into the way of it, and I'm going to have to work it into a book somewhere, so I am. I think it hugely enriches any sentence you might care to think of. I was washing the car today, so I was. We had brilliant sex last night, so we did. And not only sentences, what if some of the most famous sayings of all time got the so I was treatment?

We will fight them on the beaches, so we will.

I have a dream, so I do.

One small step for man, so it is.

And of course it would be perfect for any wedding. Do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?

I do, so I do.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Saturday, 7 June 2008

And now for the news....

......oh its been a busy few months in one way or another, which is absolutely no excuse for not keeping this updated. Also, it has been kind of sunny and I now have a big shiny red head.
Been back and forth to London a few times - I'm working on a TV project for Sky at the moment, which is based on the crime novels of Stephen Booth. These are set in the Peak District and feature a mismatched pair of detectives, Cooper and Fry. Having fun doing this, and was across for a brief tour of the Peaks courtesy of the author just last week. Also working on something about Hanging Judges in the 19th century for the Beeb - which is taking me right out of my comfort zone!

The latest children's book, Titanic 2020: Cannibal City is either in the shops (in Ireland) or about to hit them 9everywhere else) and I've been doing my bit to promote that. Some more stuff coming up next week - appearances at Easons in Bangor, Craigavon, Athlone and Blanchardstown. The first book in the series is up for three children's book awards in England; it also just missed out on the big one in Ireland, the Bisto Children's Book of the Year, losing out to Siobhan Dowd's 'London Eye Mystery'. I wuz robbed, obviously.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Oh my oh my

It is a cruel fact of my life that I regularly get ignored when it comes to the major literary awards - each year I wait by the phone, but always the Nobel or the Booker or the Orange Prize for Women's Fiction passes me by. But swell to report I'm in at least with a shout of a rather nice one - The Bisto Book of the Year Awards shortlist was announced this week, and my Titanic 2020 is one of ten books selected by Children's Books Ireland to be considered. They are presented annually in recognnition of excellence in writing and illustration, at least that's what it says on their website. Rather exciting. The winner is announced towards the end of May. The very night I heard that I'd been shortlisted I was making the dinner, opened the larder door, and a container of Bisto fell out, hit the deck, and spilled everywhere. This is surely a sign? But a sign of what? And if I do win, will I have to turn the Titanic into a gravy boat?

Friday, 14 March 2008

UTV Life!

.....and so the whirl surrounding the publication of a new book continues. Well, it's not quite a whirl, more like a stiff breeze. Or just a breeze. Or maybe just some cool air. Nevertheless, whatever it is, it continues. I'm appearing on UTV Life tonight on (naturally enough) UTV sometime between 5.30 and 6 pm, making this news item totally irrelevent to those of you who have proper jobs. Anyhoo, that's where I'll be, in my new suit, 'n all. Also due to appear on Ireland's TV3 on or around March 25th.


The first film I ever wrote, and still possibly my favourite, was a short called 'Jumpers'. It was directed by Konrad Jaye and produced by Mark Huffam and starred Jimmy Nesbitt in a tale of suicide and Santa Claus. This was an incredible.....what, 12 years ago? Anyway, the film has now resurfaced, and if you have Itunes you can actually download it to your computer, Ipod etc. Only costs a couple of dollars and it will give you hours of wonderful fun, or indeed, minutes.

Waterford bound

If you're in the Waterford area, or indeed in the Ireland area, and are extremely bored, I'm appearing at the Sean Sunne Writer's Festival in the town on April 6th. Sean was an acclaimed poet who died tragically young.

Orpheus: We Have Lift Off

Many thanks to all those who turned up to toast the launch of 'Orpheus Rising' last night at No Alibis in Belfast. My, that Stella beer is rather strong. I didn't actually read any of the book last night - it's hard to find a passage that makes sense in small chunks - so instead read from the NEXT book, which is 'Mystery Man', and which I literally finished yesterday afternoon. Those who have been following these reports will know that I'm actually setting the book in a mystery book shop called 'No Alibis' - a FICTIONAL version of the real place. Nevertheless it's great fun to watch owner David Torrance squirm as i read! The new stuff seemed to go down well and it was good to see a lot of familiar faces. And some new ones. 'Orpheus Rising' is in many ways a much more serious book than normal; 'Mystery Man', I suspect, will give a new meaning to the term 'politically incorrrect'. But you'll have to wait and see.....

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Orpheus Rising .....published!

The new novel, Orpheus Rising, was published this week folks. The one with the big pink shark on the cover. Hard to miss. Although you will if you order books through Amazon....as due to an administrative foul up the book has failed to appear there at all. Hopefully this will be rectified in the very near future.
Meanwhile, if you live anywhere near Belfast, you're invited to come and help launch the blessed thing at No Alibis bookstore in Botanic Avenue on Thursday, March 13 at 7 pm.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

You can all just **** off

When I was a journalist, and a very poor one at that - both literally and financially - the rule of thumb was that you NEVER received praise from your readers, you only ever received complaints. It was a good day at the office if it was a quiet one after one of your stories had appeared. This is also pretty true of the books - I get some nice e-mails, but generally there's not a huge amount of feedback. That is until I PREDICT A RIOT and the complaints started. Hundreds of them. My cardinal sin has been to remove the swearing and replace it with a lot of ********ing. This seems to have REALLY annoyed everyone because there's not a day goes by, STILL, when I don't receive half a dozen e-mails complaining about it: some of you just like to read naughty words, some of you resent having censorship imposed on you, some of you don't like being treated like naughty children. And all of you asking why the **** I did it, and if I've turned into some kind of ******* born again Christian or something. Now I've explained it before and I'll explain it again. The Lord is the One True Way and there's no need for ******* swearing.

Or.....I Predict A Riot originally appeared in serial form in the Belfast News Letter, which is a morning newspaper here in Northern Ireland. This meant that I couldn't be using my normal quota of very naughty words, or, if I did, I had to bleep them out. So I bleeped them out. And never a complaint over the whole year the serial appeared. It may be that we Northern prods are just a lot more God fearing that the rest of you heathens. So when it came time to do the book I thought I'd keep up the ****, and also had the thought that sometimes the bleeping can be funnier than the actual swear words themselves. It works on You've Been Framed. But as it turns out you all like your swear words. You miss them. They are such a part of your daily lives that you feel bereft when someone chooses not to use them.

So MAYBE in a future edition of the book I might put them all back in. But as that would mean re-setting virtually every page, I'm virtually certain my publishers aren't going to pay for it.
In the mean time, suitbably chastised, you can all look forward to my next novel, 'The Fucking Fuckers from Fuckville'.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Do you believe in Ghosts?

.....those many, many hundreds of thousands of you feverishly waiting for the next novel, Ghost Town, may tear up your cheques and cancel your Amazon orders. Fear not though - it's only a change of title. All the way through writing it I called it Orpheus Rising and it was only on delivery that my publishers thought that was a bit unwieldy and we came up with Ghost Town instead. So ever since that's what it has been - I actually have the cover for the book in the house (will that be worth something on Ebay? £5? Maybe £10)- but now for reasons which are a bit complicated, and at a very late stage, at least in publishing terms, we're back to Orpheus Rising.
Actually - and this has nothing to do with the title change, because it would actually have been quite helpful - the new film from Ricky Gervais, his first leading role, is also called Ghost Town, also set in America, and has quite a similar plot. I was looking forward to the confusion this would have caused, because he is an international superstar and comedy genius, and I still play 5-a-side.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Doc 2

The documentary Bateman on Bangor: Light of the World went down sufficiently well with viewers and the BBC themselves for them to comission another one for later in the year. It has the working title of Bateman's Belfast Confidential and I'll be teaming up with producer Damien Magee again to take a wry look at modern Belfast.

Happy 2008

Happy New Year to everyone!

I'm not great on resolutions, but this year, now comfortably into my mid forties, I'm determined to at least keep to a few.

(1) remember not to get completely pissed at public functions when you have to make a speech; certainly do not attempt to alter your speech seconds before going on stage; and if Sir Ben Kingsley is in the audience, do not suggest to the gathered social and political elite of Belfast that he might care to don a ginger wig and play Martin McGuinness in a bio pic.

(2) along with everyone else, get fit. Having torn my cruciate ligament and broken my hand in the same comical football accident I have to get the finger out, get fit and return to the field of dreams (Eddie Irvine's 5-a-side pitch. Not name dropping here - as opposed to above, where I was - he just owns a big complex outside my home town).

(3) stop prevaricating and get started on the one after next novel. Ghost Town comes out in May - it may surprise a few of you, because it's crap. No, I mean, it's different - because I'm tackling an unusual subject and it has taken me a bit out of my comfort zone. Interested to know what you think. But the book after that could, should, may be Mystery Man, which could, should, may be the start of a new series. It's set in a mystery book shop called No Alibis in Belfast - which is of course, a real place - but this will obviously be a highly fictional version of the store where I launch nearly all of my books. If any of you have been to my readings or have read the short story The Case of Mrs Geary's Leather Trousers then you'll know that the book version should guarantee a lot of laughs.