• Four days in—bittersweet

    03 October 2010

    Day four of the tour has come and gone. I flew over to the UK on Friday night, then did a fun event in Windsor on Saturday, followed by a signing in Brent Cross. The traffic en route to BC was horrendous -- it should have taken us an hour, but actually took more than twice that! I arrived 20 minutes late, and had to sign at top speed in order to finish on time at 6.00pm so that I could make my plane up to Aberdeen! I was signing for 1 hour 45 minutes, but any other day that would have taken at least half an hour longer, maybe even more -- but I can work speedily when I need to!!! I found out after the signing that it almost had to be scrapped halfway through -- there was a problem with the electrics somewhere in the store, and they seriously considered evacuating!!!!! Luckily they were able to sort it out and the show went ahead without a hitch -- phew!! Today was a breeze in comparison -- I rose late, had a nice breakfast, then did a 1 hour 40 minutes signing session in Aberdeen. That was my only event today, so my publicist Sam and I nipped across to the nearest cinema to see "Buried" -- a cool, dark little flick about a guy who is buried alive! Then we drove down to Perth, where I'm currently ensconsed ahead of my events here tomorrow.

    I met loads of fabulous fans over the last few days. One guy had flown over from Belfast to see me! Another had driven 5 hours from the north of the UK! But three in particular have stuck in my memory. First, the good news for those of you who might remember Georgia -- the girl who fell into a coma last year, and who many of you wrote letters to -- is that she's up on her feet and fighting the good fight!! She came along to my Windsor event and it was a real pleasure to meet with her afterwards and have a little chat. Life's still pretty tough for her, but her resilience and positivity was amazing. I also met a guy who asked me to sign a book for a friend of his who had been in a bike accident a couple of weeks ago, and who lost a leg as a result. That saddened me, though I wished him all the best and wrote as encouraging a message for him as I could. But then, in Brent Cross, a fan asked me to sign a book for a friend who couldn't be there because he had terminal cancer and has maybe only a few months to live. What can you say to someone in a case like that? I could only pass on my condolences and write the only gloomily appropriate message that I could think of -- "Even in death may you be triumphant."

    I've written that line lots of times in books over the years. It's my favourite line from any of my books, one that I almost always use if putting a message in Killers of the Dawn. But this was the first time I had ever truly felt the full weight of it, the first time I was saying it to someone who really was facing up to their own mortality, whose life could be knowingly counted in days rather than years. I sometimes get asked why I write about death so much, and why I kill off so many of my characters. It's because we can't escape it. Death is all around us, nipping away at our ranks, and I think we need to face that in order to deal with it and not live in fear of it. I've always hoped that my books might be of some help to people going through difficult times, people who are having to deal with death or serious injury and its fallout. My meetings with those three fans yesterday served as a notice that at least in a few cases I've achieved what I set out to. In an ideal world, we probably wouldn't need books like mine. But in the real world, I think it's important that at least a sample of our entertainers tackle the nastier elements of life head-on, to help others focus on death and loss and prepare themselves through fiction for the fact of it. I don't think of myself as a gloomy writer, but I think the darkness must be explored thoroughly if we aren't to be afraid of it, and as long as fans like these three back me up in that belief, I'll keep up going as I have been for as long as I can, until the grim reaper comes a-calling for me.

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