WELL, IT’S all been building up to this: September and the start of the Rugby World Cup.
And I have a confession. I am not a rugby man. No way. Never have been, never will be. Why a bunch of men want to spend 80 minutes or so with their head up other blokes’ backsides is beyond me, but when you’re a sports journalist in South Wales you have no option but to go with the flow.
In the pubs, cafes and at almost any social gathering I attended during my time in Cardiff and Swansea, I couldn’t help being drawn into a conversation about what was going on in the Six Nations, or at the Rugby World Cup. It was all my Welsh mates ever talked about, whether they were moaning about another loss to the English or gloating about an unexpected triumph.
That was why I found it such a refreshingly different environment when I moved to London. At the News of the World you barely heard the game mentioned. It was all about the Premier League and, though for a while it was nice to withdraw from the Welsh pressure cooker, it soon became equally boring – particularly to someone who has spent his entire life supporting a club languishing among the dregs of the Football League. (Bristol Rovers, for those who have been hiding in a cave for all these years and missed my overload of tweets, facebook rants and blogs on the Bristol Post website).
So why, you may ask, did I write a book with the Rugby World Cup as its backdrop? Well, four years ago when I started out on the project there was a World Cup taking place in the southern hemisphere. I wondered how one of my London colleagues, who had a complete apathy towards the sport and Wales in general, might cope being thrust into a newspaper environment across the Severn Bridge during such a tournament.
As time progressed, though, and the novel changed from its early origins as a comedy into a thriller, I began to consider how best to market it and make it more “topical”. It was when I’d finished the story and started considering covers it occurred to me the World Cup had come around again – and this time it was on these shores.
It seemed an opportunity not to be missed, so a tweak here and a rewrite there, a few “babies” bumped off, and I was in business with a contemporary, up-to-date novel that could be released just in time for the tournament.
It meant I could get publicity on the back of one of the biggest sporting shows on earth, securing me articles in Wales on Sunday, the South Wales Evening Post and the Bristol Post. Each paper has put the article on line, too, which gives it longevity.
Now the serious work starts. With 16 days to go I’m hoping to up the ante. I’ve been invited to write about my novel experience by the good people at Daily Express online and am also due to appear on the Radio Wales afternoon programme on September 17 – the day it all kicks off. BBC Bristol have been in touch, too, and I am busy negotiating with Kobo and Net Galley to promote the book in the lead up to the tournament.
It’s exciting times and I only have one major confusion at the moment. People keep asking me how sales are going and I honestly reply “I haven’t got a clue”.
I can get an overall impression of where I stand in the Amazon ratings for Kindle and paperback, but they changed every day. The book is also on sale with Kobo and Barnes and Noble and in selected bookshops but until I get some feedback (and some money, hopefully) I will remain in the dark.