The famous playwright, Neil Simon in his brilliant autobiography explains the review that has been most helpful to him in his career has been –
“Neil Simon did not have a good idea for a play this year, but he wrote one anyway.”
I think this happens too often with novelists as well. A frequent question I am asked is why I have only written four novels and my answer is simple. To date I have only come up with four stories that are really worth telling.
All of my novels are adult comic fairy-tales; books which I hope will make my readers feel happy and particularly so, my latest novel, Open Links.
But why? Well, because its’ a good story I hope but also because all proceeds from OPEN LINKS are going to Anthony Nolan. So it’s a feel-good book which could also save someone’s life.
Anthony Nolan is a charity that I have long supported. But my ‘support’ didn’t really amount to very much. As well as a small direct debit each month, I would attend their gala ball on Park Lane each year in my capacity of being a ‘celebrity’ (free tickets although I have always paid) – and at the slap up meal, I would be thanked and clapped just for attending, something which I have always found excruciating.
So for a while I have had it in mind that I would like to do something a bit more worthy for the charity, something more than eating a nice meal. I was about to start writing Open Links and because I needed a character to have an illness, it made sense that I might choose a blood cancer. And whilst writing the novel, it occurred to me that I could donate the book and its proceeds to Antony Nolan.
Frankly, there are too many very worthy charities but Anthony Nolan has always chimed with me because their results are so tangible. Each year they give up to 1400 people the chance to overcome a life threatening cancer and every year, some 700 people survive an illness who without Anthony Nolan would have died.
And they appeal to me further because leukemia and other blood disorders are completely indiscriminate and not based on any lifestyle choices. Just bad luck I suppose and so later today if could me diagnosed? Or my wife, my son, my mum… and if this were to happen, then our ultimate port of call would be Antony Nolan in the hope that someone somewhere had provided a tissue sample and might be a bone marrow match.
Anthony Nolan cannot process all of the people willing to register their tissue type. They don’t have the funds to do so. So quite simply, the more funds they can raise, the more samples they can process on to their register and the more lives that they can save.
This is an exciting prospect for me.
I thoroughly enjoyed writing Open Links and I delighted that people might have fun reading it and in to the bargain, help a great charity to continue its extraordinary lifesaving work.