Can it really be true? It is now twenty years since the publication of my first novel. Quite an astonishing thought – especially for someone who still learning his craft and determined to keep improving as a writer! But it is a fact.
All the Lonely People was the first Harry Devlin novel. Harry is a Liverpool lawyer who still carries a torch for the wife who left him to move in with local villain. When she returns unexpectedly to his flat on the waterfront, he can't help hoping that they can start again. But shortly afterwards, she is found murdered, and Harry is the prime suspect. He needs to clear his name, but is also desperate to see the real culprit found, and justice done.
The book was published at a very busy and exciting time in my life. Our first child – who later designed this very blog! – was only a few months old, and I was also heavily involved in work as a partner in my firm, as well as writing legal books and articles. But to have a novel published was something special, even so – it was the fulfilment of a dream I'd had since I was a small child.
The book was successful. Reviews were great, Transworld bought the paperback rights and the book was one of seven nominated for the John Creasey Memorial Dagger for best debut crime novel. Before long there was a TV deal, although nothing came of it.
But things like television, awards and reviews are outside the control of an author. All that a writer can do is write to the very best of his or her ability. I was very keen, having made the leap to published status, to keep going – and so, by the time the first book appeared, its successor, Suspicious Minds, was already written.
I wrote seven books about Harry Devlin before moving on to other things, but he's a character I've always liked and enjoyed writing about. So it was a real pleasure to re-introduce him three years ago in Waterloo Sunset. A couple of years back, All the Lonely People was published in the US for the very first time, much to my delight.
Over the past 20 years, I've been lucky enough to see the appearance of a number of editions of the Harry Devlin books, but the first seven have been out of print in the UK for quite some time. This strikes me as a pity, because, despite the passage of time, I like to think that the books hold up very well.
So I'm pleased to say that discussions are now taking place which may lead to the production of e-book versions of the early Harry Devlin books, perhaps with a number of brand-new "special features". I'm not yet sure this will happen, but I do hope so, as I would love to introduce Harry to a new generation of readers.
But in the meantime, I'm happy to look back on the last 20 years and reflect on how fortunate I've been to do something I love, and even get paid for it, for so long. Now I'm looking forward to the years ahead!