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Thursday, 17 May 2012

Nearly there. Over the past four days I’ve written the bulk of this second sample chapter, and ought to complete it today. The cops have got into the block of flats, unobserved, and made their way along the corridor on the seventh floor. All our hero has to do is kick down the door and arrest the dealer. But will it be that simple…? (Ha! Sounds just like a line from one of my documentary voice-overs… Vets In Practice, Life of Grime and all that stuff.)

Once that’s written it’ll go off to Mike and his missus, who should have finished their work on the chapter I sent them last week. The re-write generally takes me no more than a day or two, sometimes as little as a few hours. However, we had some new input yesterday in the shape of an email from one of his former colleagues. This guy gave us a couple of brilliant anecdotes from the training course at Hendon, and they absolutely must be incorporated. I was reminded of the succession of company histories I wrote, back in the mid-90s. Every time I thought I’d got the manuscript in order, somebody would phone and say they’d seen the story I put in the papers about compiling the history - a year ago - and they had one or two interesting photographs I might like to see. You just knew that they would be pure gold, and that you’d have to re-jig the whole manuscript.

Once I’ve got to the end of this second chapter I have to turn my attention to sorting the accumulated material Mike has come up with and lay out a complete plan for two books. Our agent, Humfrey, will need that before he starts doing the rounds. When he does I’m hoping he’ll get a favourable response from one of the two publishers we’ve already worked with. He may even have nailed a deal by the time I get back from Norway - although that may be unduly optimistic of me.

While I beaver away at this, Mike is busy doing TV and radio interviews on policing issues, which are very much in the news just now, as the government seeks to find ways of applying austerity measures across the board. He’s also picking up more and more speaking engagements, most recently with the WI and their regional assemblies. Later this summer (if summer ever arrives) he will be at the Yorkshire Show. These gigs are extremely helpful in terms of promoting our wares. Mike generally sells a lot of books. A couple of years ago he told me about a Hull literary luncheon, when he was third on the bill behind a Washington correspondent for a national newspaper and a literary novelist of some renown. He was quite embarrassed to see them sitting beside him, waiting for customers, while he battled to get through a long line of fans queuing up for him to sign copies of the latest book.

An update on The Red House On The Niobrara. Sales are slow - but that is what everybody seems to experience. Besides, there’s no rush. I have accumulated four or five reviews in either side of the Atlantic, and they are uniformly excellent. I’ve just done a phone interview with a newspaper in Chadron, western Nebraska - they plan to run a piece about me later in the month - and am hopeful of doing one with the Lincoln Star Journal (published in the capital city). I’m also in touch with Nebraska Tourism, and they seem interested in getting something about me into one of the publications they sponsor. Sounds all very vague, I know, but you just have to do all this prodding, probing and promotional stuff. I continue to tweet, and have no idea whether that’s doing me any good; but again, the advice I’m getting is that if you persist you will get somewhere. And the fact is, I do rather enjoy going out there and banging the drum - by which I mean, talking about myself.

Well, it’s cold, it’s raining, and I have no excuse for not getting on with my work - apart from the fact that I’ve just run a deep, hot bath, and that Melvyn Bragg will shortly start discussing (on BBC Radio 4) Carl von Clausewitz and his treatise On War. Tough call….