Write a new year’s blog, they said.

Make it a bit different, they said.

Right. A bit different.

Hmmm. Cue much head scratching and under the breath muttering.

I mean – a new year’s blog. It’s all about hopes for the year ahead, isn’t it? Maybe coupled with a small amount of wise reflection on the year that’s just passed.

How to make it different?

Dunno. Give up.

So, what am I looking forward to in 2018? That’s easy to answer: I’m really, really, really looking forward to the UK release of my first Gangster School novel. May 2018. Put it in your diary now. Pre-order a few copies. Or a lot of copies. I’ll be your best friend if you order lots of copies. If that’s a worrying prospect, just order one. For one copy I’ll just be a very grateful acquaintance.

I’m also looking forward to the second Gangster School book coming out in Germany in March. I can share the cover of this one – it’s fab. I’m also looking forward to that stupendous moment when the postman hands you a parcel and you open it and it contains your advance copies. OK, they’re in German and my German isn’t what you’d call fluent, precisely. But there are a few words I’ll recognise – hund is dog, for instance. Abwasser is sewage. And Zombie, helpfully enough, is zombie. They’ll all be in there. Thank heaven for a brilliant translator. 

What am I not looking forward to? Another easy one. In less than a week, my son is going to Taiwan to teach for a whole year. I’ll miss him. A lot. But I know he’ll be having a great time and learning lots and seeing the world. And I’m looking forward to visiting him. Whether he’s looking forward to that is a different question.

What scares me about the coming year? Cor, all these are easy to answer! Like all writers, I’m scared of people hating my book, and I suppose it’s bound to happen. You can’t please everyone. But the reaction in Germany has been brilliant, and I’m crossing my fingers for a similar response here.

I’m also a bit scared of standing up and reading it in front of vast (well, a dozen if I’m lucky) numbers of people. I think that’s going to be pretty daunting, but a buzz as well. And as long as the buzziness is at least equal to the scariness, I’ll be OK.

What have I learned in the past year? Blimey, where to start? I’ve learned not to give up, to support friends and fellow writers, to concentrate on the many good things about being a writer and try to ignore the other bits. I’ve learned not to wait for inspiration and to hit deadlines if humanly possible.

Most importantly, I’ve also learned to value my family and make the most of every second with them. Now, where’s that comparison website for flights to Taiwan? 

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