June 2013

A thunderous THANK YOU to the staff and students of The Market Bosworth School for the warm welcome they gave me yesterday. As often happens at my school events, I was asked to name my favourite book. I have lots. Here’s one:

At Trapped By Monsters this week, my final Great Escape is Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind by Hayao Miyazaki.

We still have his books. I took yesterday off to reread one of my favourites, Look to Windward. While enjoying it just as much and maybe more the second time, I was reminded very powerfully of the influence his writing has had on mine; his attitude too.

Around when I first read Look to Windward I saw an interview with Banks in which he said something to the effect that you’re not a Serious Writer until you’ve had at least a hundred rejections. Acutely unpublished as I was then, I began adding up mine, from the first short stories I submitted to magazines, competitions, publishers and agents through the first novels that came and went later. Before I got my first ‘yes’ – for my fourth novel, The Black Tattoo – I received one hundred and thirty-four messages saying ‘no’.

Sometimes sensible young people at my school events ask me why I didn’t just stop and give up. I tell them that all my rejections hurt of course but as their total got closer to triple figures, I got excited. At one hundred rejections I had a party, to celebrate becoming a Serious Writer. I tell young people about Iain Banks, how wonderful his books are, and how it’s thanks in part to his example that now I get the chance to do so.

He told us it was coming. It was still too soon.