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December 2004

Dear Visitor,

It’s that time again. Do you take stock at the end of the year? Try to assess whether it’s been a good or bad year? This one is leaving me a little baffled.

The pleurisy at the beginning of the year threw everything out of kilter, and seriously delayed work on number fourteen, so that wasn’t good, especially when it turned out to be particularly tricky, and has been further delayed. This in turn has meant a lack of funding, as you can imagine. But along came the satellite channel Nation 217, offering cash prizes for solving puzzles, and my income has been and continues to be healthily supplemented as a result. So that was good. And if I had been working on number fourteen instead of under orders to do nothing, I might never have become a Nation 217 player.

Incidentally – since discovering Nation 217, I have found that there are other channels offering prizes for solving puzzles, and I’ve had a look at them. If you have seen any of them, don’t imagine that 217 is like them. It isn’t.

But back to my assessment. Unlucky for Some was published here to what seems to have been a resounding silence – I haven’t seen any reviews at all. (If you have – good or bad – let me know.) That didn’t seem so good, but despite the lack of reviews, I was told that Macmillan were very pleased with the sales, which is good. And my US editor rang me up on the eve of Thanksgiving specially to let me know that the pre-publication feedback from over there was particularly encouraging, so that was good, too.

And those of you who read this newsletter regularly will of course know that we lost Frankie, our cat, who died at sixteen. But a quirk of fate produced George the tabby kitten almost immediately, and he continues to be delightful (except for his DIY exploits – see his page for details).

So each bit of bad seems to have been counteracted by a bit of good, and I suppose the verdict has to be that I have had better years, but it could have been a great deal worse. Lots of nice things have happened too. Most years are like that, I suppose – it’s just that this one seemed to have the contrast turned up to maximum.

Resolutions? To get more exercise and fresh air, eat more (most people have to resolve to eat less, but I like to be different), smoke less (not at all would be sensible, but might be too ambitious) and finish number fourteen while 2005 is still young. And, of course, update the web site every month, at the beginning of the month, just I’ve done this time!
Lots of you went in for the competition last month, and the winners have been notified. And I notice on the message board that a few people have been trying in vain to find the video of Lloyd and Hill for sale – I’m afraid there isn’t a commercial video of it. But you can win a copy of mine, so have a go at the competition if you’d like one. It will be in the PAL format, but even if you are NTSC, modern VCRs can cope with PAL. Of course, ‘modern VCRs’ is beginning to be a contradiction in terms, but I’m sure that by the time we all have to play DVDs instead, I will have whatever gizmo is required to transfer Lloyd and Hill to disc. And modern DVD players – still, as far as I know, a non-oxymoron – don’t seem to care what region you are, so hopefully they’ll work wherever you are.

Or maybe by then Lloyd and Hill will have been serialised on TV and sold world-wide, with all the merchandising that goes with that sort of success, and you’ll be able to buy the entire oeuvre on disc, not to mention all the spin-off feature films complete with director’s commentary and interviews with the stars.

You see? Fiction writers can imagine anything.

I hope you have a happy, peaceful Christmas, and I’ll see you in January.


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