For most writers success, if it comes, is built up in stages. At the time each step along the way will feel pretty good. But with the passage of time it fades. Robert Hull, writing in the current issue of The Author, the journal of the Society of Authors, reflects upon his status as publication dates fade into the past. “what do I do then as one of those who feel they're en route to un-authordom, and who exist in a ghost world of out-of-printedness?'
I'm very familiar with Hull's feeling. Soon after my book Counting the Days to Armageddon was published I joined the Society of Authors and I cracked on with trying to write a follow-up, building on that modest success. I was thirty thousand words into that project when I abandoned it because I wanted to change direction altogether.
I wrote a novel over the period of about three years. It did, in a way, build upon Counting the Days, being a story typical of some of the real people caught up in the kind of belief system I had studied as an academic. But it got nowhere and when I came to read it long afterwards I could see all too clearly that although it was utterly different in style from my first book, it was clearly an academic's attempt at fiction.
With Bunderlin I found my writer's voice. I loved it, I was pleased with it and hopeful for its success but every time a new issue of The Author dropped through my letterbox I felt like a fraud because publication was long in the past. Bunderlin found a publisher. It went on sale this time last year. And it even got reviewed on The Spectator's book blog. So at last I had topped up my modest success.
The most gratifying honour came to me only this morning. I received an invitation to become a Member of The Welsh Academy. “Membership and Fellowship is by invitation only and is offered to writers as a mark of peer recognition of their contribution to the literature of Wales.” I feel greatly honoured.