Thursday, May 31, 2007

SUNS: A Heat Seeker!

A THOUSAND SUNS actually managed to climb to the top chart position in what is known in the book trade as the 'Heat Seeker' chart. This is basically a chart of the books that are moving up the national paperback chart...most quickly.

Typically, a new book by someone like Archer or Jilly Cooper might hit the number one spot momentarily because the first day of sales would transport them from off-chart to somewhere in the top ten. But then, obviously once in that top ten, their book has only nine more slots that it can possibly climb at best. Which means they'd disappear from the 'heat seeker' chart as quickly as they arrived. To be replaced by an unknown like, manages to climb from position 80 to say 42.

So anyway...that's what happened a few days ago. My humble little debut novel had a bloody good 2nd week, climbed way up the national chart, and made a spectacular appearence as NUMBER ONE in this Heat Seeker list.

I'm gob-smacked. No...really. I'm stunned.

There's been no high profile marketing (as yet). However it appears WHSMITHS has got behind it, and I notice WATERSTONES and BORDERS are pushing it with '2 for 1' and '3 for 2' deals.

Anyway....jeeeez, I'd like to think this blip lasts through the summer. If it does...IF it does, I might just have a future in this precarious book business. I might just sell enough books (in between the usual glut of Celebrity Biogs that seem to gobble up most book sales, that is) to be able to keep tapping away on the typewriter.

Failing that. There's plan B. But, no....I'm not ready to even think about that, let alone talk about it.

*shudders at the thought*

Anyway, if you're vaguely interested as to what seems to have grabbed enough people's attention to propel me up to such giddy heights, here's a link to my book on AMAZON.


And gosh-darn if you want your interest piqued still further, you could have a look at this trailer I put together for it.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Yup, given that it was her and tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum, it was obvious she was for the boot the moment the results of each team were read out.

I'll be honest, I've not been not a big fan of Naomi's. She seems sensible, smart, quite confident, articulate and so on. Very good suit fodder I imagine, but she makes for dull TV. Whilst Simon and Tre - tweedle-dumb and tweedle-dumber - on the other hand, are eminantly watchable buffoons.

Tonight's show, was undoubtedly Simon's show, once again. Selling a selection of products to a nation of QVC and auction channel addicts - "Mavis"s to use Katie's terminology. Well now, Simon's little task was to sell an exercise trampoline. I spurted my coffee over the desk when he was assembling that little trampoline, screwing the legs on...

(if you missed the show...he was screwing the legs on a small exercise trampoline. But the way he was holding the little legs in both hands, with the trampoline itself resting against his groin...well it looked very phallic)

...and the ill-conceived soundbites he was muttering as he worked at screwing on each stubby little leg, took on delightfully new meanings;

'...just grab the little thing in both hands...'
''ll get it off in a jiffy...'
', kids and adults can do this together...'

Ahh, it was priceless comedy. And then to add a whole new level of visual mirth to the proceedings, he decided to demonstrate the product by climbing on and bouncing up and down on top of it doing mincey little star jumps. For some reason he reminded me of Mr Bean.

The other moment worth a quick mention was Kristina's excruciating spell in front of the camera, fumbling with a floor mop and cursing 'Grrrrr Jeezuss Mother o' God Grrrrrr'. There was a hint of Reverand Iain Paisley in that gravelly twenty-a-day voice of hers, as she throttled the mop whilst trying to attach that daft-looking doily - the purpose of which I never really understood - to the top of it.

'Grrrr-feckin-bleedin'-little-shite-grrrrrr' (okay she didn't say that...but I'm sure she was thinking it)

Anyway, an odd, but very enjoyable show tonight. From this point on though, it gets serious. And I fancy next week the show's number one comedy couple (the tweedle twits) will finally be parted from each other.

That'll be a shame when it happens.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


It was quite cringe-making this week watching both teams mess around with the dark art of harnassing and packaging urban 'cool'.

Well that's what I spent the first half of this week's show thinking. Then gradually during the second half it, after they'd had the Ad agency pros make their pronouncements, it occured to me that deciding whether someone has got a bit of branding right, depends a helluva lot on how confident we are in the person/people doing it.

With the apprentices, we know they're not Advertising Creatives, so we fully expect that what they'd churn out what would be - in Tre's parlance - BollocksShit. Whereas, in the hands of some hugely expensive agency, we assume what they churn out is doing the right job...even, and this is the important bit, even...if we don't get it.

It's something to do with that naieve trust we have in the expert.

So with that thought in mind, I thought they're JAM and STREET campaigns were actually not that bad, particularly given they only had 2 days in which to do it. I've got to ask myself what exactly have those hugely expensive agencies done for Reebok, Adidas, Nike? You know, other than hire in VERY expensive sports/pop icons (Beckham, Magic, Cent, Snoop etc etc) and film them with grainy film stock? Hmmm?

Anyway, back on topic. I think the right team won, and yes, I think Gazall was a weak team leader, and ripe to go.

Tonight though, for me, the star of the show, was Katie. (Yes Simon was an inspiration, and did indeed, to my utter surprise, sound very, very black) It does seem that everyone's out for Katie, calling her a snake in the grass et al....but sod it, she seems to be the only apprentice who can really give Sir Alan a run for his money in the boardroom. I'm going to stick my neck out now, and predict she will be a finalist.

That bee-atch Katie....the ho' got sole.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

APPRENTICE: How Low Can You Go?

Ooooh, it got very personal didn't it? Very nasty. And I think tonight I saw a tiny glimpse of something at work....the producer's hand, the power behind this show, a little bit of deus ex machina.

Let me explain.

It goes back to last week's episode. Katie (horsey-looking posh blonde) was having a bit of a thing with Paul 'I-can-cook-sausages' Callaghan, the guy that got booted out. In Katie's absence, Katrina (orange skinned, hard faced and Oirish) let it be known to Sir Alan that Paul and Katie were getting it on together, which was why Paul had elected not to drag Katie in, and dragged Katrina in to the boardroom instead.....personal reasons see. A big No No in Sir Alan's eyes.

Okay...back to this week.

Katie ends up in the boardroom, as does Adam. And Adam's main reason for dragging in Katie, is because 'her head was down over Paul leaving'. Actually, it wasn't. But that's irrelevant. Katie and Katrina, enemies last week, were decidedly cosy this week, and one could see they were going to present a united front in getting rid of Adam, come what may.

But oh no....a united front isn't that interesting, is it? Nope. Not exactly great TV.

So Sir Alan 'clumsily' lets slip that last week Katrina might have spilled the beans on the Paul-Katie thing going on. In other words, letting Katie know her new best friend, sitting right beside her, was busy stabbing away at her back last week.

Now, they were definately setting things up for an ugly cat-fight in the boardroom. That much was obvious. That's what they were really hoping for I suspect. The camera was zoomed in on those flushed cheeks. They'd lit the proverbial blue touch paper and retired....waiting for an explosion.

Didn't happen though did it?

The more this season runs, the less inclined I am to laugh at the all-too-human mistakes made by these all-too-human apprentices under pressure, and to cast a cynical eye in the direction of the Big Sugar and the invisible program makers themselves.

It's not the inmates I'm looking at now - not any more. Hell, we know how people are going to behave if you put them under intense pressure, play them off against each other, dangle a huge feckin' carrot in front of them, and ram a camera into their face 24/7.

What's more interesting is how low the producers will go to get a rise out of these people.

P.S. Whilst Im thinking about it, I reckon I'll just quickly mention 'nigella beans' here at the end. Because you can guarantee the world and his wife will be googling that tomorrow morning. Oh yes.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


You know, despite Alan Sugar adamantly claiming otherwise, I really don't think he could make his millions all over again if he started once more with just his transit van and a hundred quid. This is a claim he's made to his Apprentices several times now - that he could do it all problem.

Hmmm. See, I have a strong suspicion that most self made multi-millionaires like Sir Alan made their fortunes NOT because of their business savvy or their communication skills, or being able to sniff out that 'golden opportunity'....and don't get me wrong, these are all important contributary, they made their fortunes simply because they were lucky to be in the right place, at the right time with a fistful of money to invest.

During the last twenty years, I have had the honour of working alongside a variety of energetic, 'drop dead shrewd' people who have worked their proverbial bollocks off, and yet achieved no notable success.

It really does p*** me off when the rich and successful grab full credit for their success, when in fact there are many other factors, beyond their control, that ultimately decided their (good) fortune. Sugar appears to be one of those people.

By contrast, take a look at Richard Branson, who concedes that his fortune was the result of luck falling his way on more than one occasion...most notably when his first significant business gamble involved betting everything on the success of Michael Oldfield's Tubular Bells. Richard Branson knows that luck is fickle, it will pick you out or pass you by.

And yes, Donald Trump has exactly the same exasperating air of arrogance about him.

In their defence, I'm sure either would come back with 'well, I've been bankrupted several times, each time bouncing back...makin' even more!'

Sure, but the point is, the first time they made it, they also made all their contacts, made friends on the golf course, forged strategic friendships with investors who would happily help them have another go. And that's not just for old times...there's that self-fulfilling belief that someone who's made a fortune once, can do it again.

Really...if I was surrounded by a pack of wealthy billionaire patrons who respected and believed in me, I reckon I'd have to be a bit of a dummy not to turn that goodwill into a small fortune.

Sunday, May 06, 2007


I'm up to 17k.

So how's it going? Well, I'm beginning to like some of my cast of characters. I have two groups of characters, ones from the present day story line and ones from the past. The present day characters are a breeze to write, they're inspired by people I know. So I know how they talk, how they react to things - no brainer.

The characters from the past are a little more problematic. See, I don't want them sounding like people from the past. I want them to feel contemporary, thus allowing the reader to empathise more easily, to see themselves in this historic setting. But at the same time, making them sound contemporary, I can't have them using any phrases/words that are clearly of modern origin. It's a fiddly thing to balance, but so far, I feel happy that I've got it. I do like one particular character though, who feels like a backpacker, very modern - like a gap year med student, yet he's a traveller in the 1800s.

So far the story is being set up. But now I'm nearly at the stage where some big events happen that set all the really cool things in motion. So I've got some meaty chapters ahead to look forward to.

Friday, May 04, 2007


Yup, check it out if you happen to wonder into a WHSmiths this month. 'Best New Talent' promotion, on a rack (hopefully) near the front of the store. It's an interesting arrangement. There are three or four 'new talents' they are promoting, of which I'm one. Each promoted book is linked to two other books in such a way:

'if you like BOOK A and you like BOOK B...then you'll love THIS NEW BOOK'.

So, my two books that I'm being likened to are an interesting combination, one of which I'm flattered by, the other....hmmm. The two books they've used to promote mine are POMPEII by Robert Harris and POLAR SHIFT by Clive Cussler.

Also, of note. I believe A THOUSAND SUNS is in ASDA right now. Which is nice.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

APPRENTICE: Paul 'shambles' Callaghan

This week's boardroom showdown was butt-clenchingly painful to watch. It was probably the most uncomfortable to behold so far.

Paul 'silverspoon' Callaghan, frankly, was utterly mauled to death by Kristina. He was victim of a drive-by Kristina-ing. Not only did the tango terror lassoo then lacerate him with her caustic whip of a tongue, she then steamrolled over him, reversed, and did it all over again.

Normally, I'd side with the underdog going into the boardroom. I dunno...maybe it's because I squirm at watching such a fragile featherweight having an arm ripped from its socket by a big ol' bruiser (intellectually speaking). But tonight, such a brutal end was justified.

There were many f*** ups, but I think the one that felt most cringeworthy was Paul 'Army Boy' Callaghan's transparent attempt to look all Andy McNab-like with his improvised baked bean tin cooker. For some reason, it reminded me vaguely of Ross Kemp's cameo in EXTRAS - trying to convince Gervais's character, Andy Millman, that he can kill a man with just one hand.

As it happened, under fire from hostiles across the table (and enduring a hefty volley of blue-on-blue), Paul seemed to quickly fall apart, ending up stammering and punch-drunk; a casualty with flushed cheeks and plenty of egg on his chin.

I'd hate to go toe-to-toe with a ruthless killing machine like that Kristina. She may be bright orange, but I'd take her very seriously.

Anyway...this week, I think the correct bozo got the boot. A no-brainer (the decision, that is.)