While I was sunning myself in north Italy and Switzerland last week, relishing the charms of places like Lugano (above), and Bergamo, (below) I had the chance to reflect on how much has happened to me since I began this blog almost ten years ago. It's been an extraordinary period in my life, with the most difficult experiences (above all, the death of my mother) and much good luck. I've spent quality time with some wonderful people, and visited some fantastic places. Even as I appreciated the scenery while travelling from St Moritz to Tirano on the Bernina Experess, I found myself reflecting on the strange quirks of life. There have been plenty of those over the past decade,and more than ever before I am convinced that one simply has to make the most of the good times while one can. So, for instance, on visiting Bergamo, I decided I really had to write a story set there. And before I left that day, I'd mapped it out in my mind.
For me, making the most of things means, for example, writing the short stories and books that I believe in,rather than those I think might stand the best chance of selling in big numbers. Oddly enough, I always assumed The Golden Age of Murder would be a niche project, either produced by a small press or self-published. I still can't really get over the fact that Harper Collins took it on, and that it not only sold very well but also won four awards and was shortlisted for two others. My association with the British Library, hugely positive, also came out of the blue. It's a funny old world.
Strange as it may seem, writing this blog has never felt like hard work. More like a chat with one or two friends. That's probably why I've now written more than 2500 blog posts (blimey!) since I started out. And a couple of days ago, the blog passed the landmark of 1.5 million visits. Something else I never expected.
In my first post, I said: The aim is to share my enthusiasm for crime fiction, and the craft of writing. From childhood, I dreamed of becoming a crime novelist - and I love being part of a fascinating world. I’m not only a writer, but a fan, and I’ll have lots to say about lots of terrific and often overlooked books and films, past and present. As for my own writing life, I’ll share the frustrations - and also the pleasures. If this blog encourages any would-be writers among you to keep at it, I’ll be delighted.
When I wrote those words, I'd never won a literary award (though I'd been a published crime novelist since 1991) and I certainly never dreamed I would become Chair of the CWA, or President of the Detection Club, let alone both. So - very fortunate indeed. I'd like to think that others can draw at least some encouragement from what I've said about my experiences on this blog. You just never know what the future may bring. And even if things don't always go well, there's always the hope that something new and good and unexpected lurks just around the corner.