Saturday, 19 April 2008

Publication approaches

The UK edition of Waterloo Sunset makes its bow this coming week. It’s always an exciting time when the latest book is published. Of course, nothing can quite match the extraordinary experience of seeing one’s very first book for the very first time. But, although I’ve now had a dozen novels published, as well as a variety of non-fiction books, I’ve never become blasé about it. It’s a privilege to have a book published, perhaps a cause for pride, and certainly a reason to be cheerful (as well as relieved that all that hard labour has finally resulted in a visible end product.)

The appearance of Waterloo Sunset is a particular cause for pleasure. I had the idea for the story about eight years ago, and actually wrote a synopsis at the time. But I’d written seven books featuring Harry Devlin, and I wanted a change. I’m sure that it’s beneficial to a writer to vary what he or she writes. On the other hand, publishers tend to be nervous about any change of direction; this is sometimes for sound commercial reasons, but I feel it’s better to take the long view. A writer who becomes stale will start producing formulaic fiction. You can get away with that for a while, especially if you sell well, but it’s not a good idea. Sooner or later, readers will become tired and want to move on. It’s better to try to develop, even though that means taking risks. Because I have another job that provides the larger part of my income, I’m lucky enough to be able to go with my instinct as to what is right, rather than simply take the line of least resistance.

I spent some of the intervening time looking at how the city was changing - more about this in a future post. The more I thought about it, the contrast between the city's past, present and future seemed fascinating. I found myself realising that I'd never spent enough time exploring places that were right on my doorstep. Some of the key scenes in the book are set in the city centre, very close to where I have worked since 1980. But it was only when researching the novel that I explored Tower Building - across the road from my office and boasting a remarkable history; see the lower photo - and St Nicholas's Church, set in a tiny oasis in between large office buildings and hotel; see the upper photo. I was given a guided tour of Tower Building, and this helped enormously in creating a fictional new home for Harry Devlin.

Returning to the Devlin series after a long break, although risky, has resulted in a book I’m very happy with. Okay, I’m not entirely objective, but I do feel confident it’s the best Devlin so far. And also my fastest-paced book to date. The early reviews in the US have been very encouraging. There’s also been a nice feature article in the Liverpool Daily Post. I'm not sure if this link will work, but here goes:



pattinase (abbott) said...

Congratulations, Martin. I am glad you still enjoy the experience. Some people seem to approach it with dread.

monix said...

The link works and what a terrific write-up on you and your books. I had planned to start with your Lake District series but I think a visit to Liverpool to meet Harry Devlin is very tempting. I spent the early '70s in Liverpool and it will be good to make a literary return. I'm off to place my order.

Kerrie said...

Well done Martin. I don't think I've read any of the Harry Devlin books - more to add to my list!

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks very much for these comments. Patti, you're absolutely right. For my own part, and maybe you feel the same, there is a sense of achievement in creating something that wouldn't otherwise exist, whatever its possible shortcomings.

Maureen, I encourage you to visit! You will find that Liverpool is much changed - at least in terms of the look and feel of the city centre and waterfront. And, by and large, I believe the changes are very much for the better.

Juliet said...

Maureen - I've been inspired to visit Liverpool this year after having read Waterloo Sunset. And am also very keen to see Gormley's iron men in situ. Maybe the Ladies Who Blog should all descend on the City Of Culture en masse sometime?! Watch out, Martin!