I normally sign out of social media around Christmas Eve with a look back at the year just gone and pick things up on New Year’s Day with a few thoughts about what may lie ahead. The sign-out didn’t happen this time because my December was so very busy with Stuff To Do. None of this was particularly dramatic in either a dire or an exciting way; it was all just time consuming. So prep for the Christmas-to-New-Year break was going on right up to the 24th December. That’s okay, because that focus on getting everything done meant we could have a relaxed time with family and friends over the holiday, eating, chatting, playing cards and board games, and watching a bit of telly in the evenings. I really appreciate the way digital recording and streaming has banished the tyranny of TV schedules to the dustbin of history and the Christmas aggravation that went with it when I was a kid.
I got a good haul of reading gifts, and three very different books have turned out to have an elegiac atmosphere in common as I’ve settled down to read them since Christmas. That was no great surprise from “Terry Pratchett, A Life With Footnotes.” This biography was entertaining, illuminating, and makes me fiercely cross about his untimely death all over again. The other books looking back at lives well(?) lived were the new Michael Connelly, “Desert Star”, and the new Ian Rankin, “A Heart Full Of Headstones”. Very different writers, very different books, set in California and Edinburgh respectively. But both Harry Bosch and John Rebus are now ex-policemen, coping with retirement in very different ways, and facing up to the fact that they are now old men. Well, we’re none of us getting any younger. After all, I’ve been enjoying both writers’ work for around thirty years now… I still find them excellent reads, not least because these characters grow and change.
It’s a bank holiday here today what with New Year’s Day falling at a weekend, so the rest of the household go back to work tomorrow. Accordingly, I’m picking up the threads and making a few notes rather than getting right back to my own routine today. I can look back on the past 12 months, satisfied with my achievements. I wrote ‘the Arthur book’ as well as three short stories. I also wrote Dan Mackmain’s most recent adventure and my steampunk novella for NewCon Press was published. Wizard’s Tower Press and I are delighted with readers’ enthusiastic reception for The Green Man’s Gift, and The Golden Rule has been much admired. My alter ego JM Alvey also had a book out. “Silver for Silence” is a 10k word story for the BOTH Press ‘quick reads for dyslexics’ project and that has proved tremendously popular.
One thing high on my priority list for the New Year is a newsletter. Yes, I know I’ve said this before, but the way Twitter has deteriorated makes this a Must Do. I’ll unlock my Twitter account for a while when that’s ready, but for most of the time I’ll be keeping my account protected unless and until there’s some major improvement. That said, a recent pleasure has been reading answers to a thread on ‘what was your first Discworld book’, so some of the old, fun Twitter lingers. I will always accept follower requests from new people whose accounts show they are real and interesting folk. As far as other social media goes, you can find me on Facebook and Mastodon.
What else have I got planned for 2023? There’s the next Green Man book to research and to write. I have an intriguing idea for a new challenge for Dan and I’m keen to see where that takes me. “The Cleaving” (aka the Arthur book) comes out in April, and it really will be fascinating to see what folk make of that view of the mythos. Those three short stories I mentioned will hopefully see the light of day, and – well, I’ll see what else comes up. There will be conventions to go to and new books to read as well as new people to meet, as well as new vaccinations and boosters to hopefully keep Covid at bay.
Because the pandemic’s by no means over, while flu and other health problems are overloading health services on the edge of collapse. The UK government are proving utterly incapable of meeting such challenges, even if they wanted to, and there’s no sign of that. There’s no way to ignore the hardships and stress that are so prevalent at the moment, at every level from the international to the personal here in the UK. So I will do what I can, where and when I can, to help out – always mindful of the advantages which keep me and mine from such tribulation.