The word is mightier than the…

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Whilst I will refrain from wishing everyone another Happy 12 months ahead… but I cannot proceed without thanking everyone who responded to my first blog of the year. A departure for me in subject and one fraught with peril. A record readership and engagement and only a tiny number of detractors being a bonus. For such people, who find offence everywhere and anywhere, life must be pretty exhausting and I am sad for them.

Especially gratifying for me is the people who have decided to sponsor a child with The Lunchbowl Network –  thank you. Having been to Kibera and seen the work of this muscular charity for myself, I can assure you that your money will be well spent and is very welcome.

Albeit it was longer than my usual blog posts, but worth it because never have I written so few words and with such a lasting impact.

Speaking of which – you might have noticed that my novel, Open Links was republished this week – and again, thanks are due to the people who have bought it already. We have sold half our stock already and next week, I will start signing, dedicating and dispatching them to places far flung. An unusual story about a game that constantly defeats me and yet I love it still.

I used to struggle when asked the question – “What type of books do you write?” Because I never really knew the answer.

Are they funny books? Some of them are but others, not. And even then, funny is so subjective…

Thrilling? Capers? Romantic?

But then an answer occurred to me which I think encompasses all six of my books. Or the five novels at least.

Fairy Tales.

I loved fairy tales when I was growing up and now I write fairy tales – but for adults. Moral tales that hinge on a compelling story and why I write so few books – because stories worth telling are not easy to come by. Or for me, at least.

Open Links fits this category perfectly. Just ahead of I,Gabriel it is my most imaginative story.  As I wrote it in 2014 and threaded in to the story my character ‘Ben’; his association and dependence on the Anthony Nolan Trust presented an opportunity to donate the proceeds to their cause. It’s republication this week has already raised enough money to put more than a hundred new donors on to their life-saving register – which is a worthy reason to buy  a book – and it’s a bonus if you enjoy the story also. I hope so because I certainly enjoyed writing it.

Speaking of books, on arriving home from Kenya last week, we were all dog-tired as we processed from the plane to baggage reclaim for perhaps the most depressing wait in all humanity. There are so few up-sides. Post-holiday blues. Back to work or lack there-of. Tired. Grubby. Over-spent. Over indulged. Frets and worries all about us and compounded by…

Funny thing the voice and how distinctive it is. How the ear can discern a person almost as quickly and as accurately as the eye – as happened last week at Heathrow – when planes empty out passengers spanning the globe and all merging in baggage reclaim halls.

I recognised his voice immediately – and even though I haven’t seen David Walliams for many moons now – probably over twenty years, I stopped to say hello. Us comedians have a special bond – borne out of the fear that is being funny for money and its inherent insecurity.

When David and I gigged together back in the day – I imagine that neither of us ever imagined a future that involved writing books. And both of us writing fairy tales (me for adults and David for children).

By his own admission, David was never really a stand-up and quickly realised that his comedic talents lay elsewhere – and promptly establishing himself as one of the most successful funny people of his generation.

His books have sold over 25 million copies and counting. Last year, he out-gunned J K Rowling in book sales and is often compared to Roald Dahl, my favourite author growing up.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory being a perfect story by my reckoning. Funny, exciting and a moral outcome with the unlikely Charlie prevailing over the brat children. Brilliant stuff and no surprise that it made such a great film. The Gene Wilder one and not the disastrous Johnny Depp version, obviously.

Similarly Holes by Louis Sachar – for a such a short book – it is a truly magnificent feat of storytelling. Layered and protracted with a powerful message and outcome – and one of my all-time favourite films.

Eclipsed only by It’s a Wonderful Life – for me, the perfect story – and not something that Open Links can ever get near – but it is my best shot and not a bad effort either. Not quite an 'eagle' perhaps but close enough for a certain 'birdie' – and given my scant golfing ability, this is a rare indeed.

Please don’t let this golf analogy put you off Open Links. It is written deliberately accessibly and this edition now has a glossary of terms – a helpful suggestion by Jenny, a key member of The Brothers Trust team.

I congratulated David on his stellar career and his achievements since we last met – which seemed to bemuse him. As though, this hadn’t occurred to him. Or more likely, the relative nature of life and how things quickly become normalised.

More difficult for David to share in my career highs to be fair and no hard feelings either. Instead he congratulated me on my progeny – which I get totally get and I smiled.

We wished each other well as we headed for our respective carousels to wait for our dirty washing!

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17 Comments

  1. Joanis navarro January 12, 2020
    Reply

    What a pleasure to know that your book is big, I admire you for expressing your soul in every blog, book, etc.

  2. Avery Wickersham January 12, 2020
    Reply

    I, for one, enjoy the range in which you write! I have purchased every single one of your books, whether as an E-book or in print, and I’m slowly making my way through them, and I’m excited to read them all. I put in my order for “Open Links” the other day, and I’m anxious for it to arrive. (On a “funnier” note, can I request Tessa’s signature? As much as I’d love the boys’ signatures, I am definitely one of Tessa’s biggest fans). Thank you so much for all the work you do! I hope that when I start publishing books that I have a chance to talk with you and pick your brain about writing! Sending love.

    • Dom January 13, 2020
      Reply

      The problem being is that just getting to Tessa these days is so hard. A different dog since she’s become famous. It’s changed her I am afraid to say.

  3. Vicki Gilbert January 12, 2020
    Reply

    Hi Dom, what a year you’ve had, and an even better year to come I can imagine!

    What is the best way to contact you regarding something fairly important?

    Many thanks

    • Dom January 13, 2020
      Reply

      let’s see and thanks. Certainly been a ‘solid’ start – as they say on the fairways of the US

      • Saggs January 13, 2020
        Reply

        I’m a 21 year old girl from india and i really enjoy all ur blogs

  4. Pamela January 12, 2020
    Reply

    Loved the blog as usual! Enjoyed reading about the books that you loved to read as a youngster! I read those but also a few others mostly because they took place where I grew up and my fourth grade teacher read us the entire series. I am not sure if you have heard of the ‘Little House’ series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I just remember loving to hear my teacher Mrs. Zizmer read them to us. I read books to my students every day! Mostly pictures books because of their young age!! I love books! I am especially excited to reread the updated version of ‘ Open Links’ along with helping with an amazing cause and charity!! Looking forward to my copy arriving in the mail soon and signed by the author!

    • Dom January 13, 2020
      Reply

      that was a massive TV show when I was growing up – which I loved – and in part because I fancied the oldest daughter – she went blind in the series and in my early days as a stand up, I used to do a joke that when she went blind, I used to think that I was now in with a shout!

      • Pamela January 14, 2020
        Reply

        Now that is a joke I would love to hear!! Some day maybe I will have the pleasure to experience one of your gigs!!

  5. Nicole January 12, 2020
    Reply

    I grew up an avid reader..and I grew up writing because of my reading. If you are not sold out by Thursday I plan on purchasing Open Links because it was a series of books growing up that led me to the Healer I am today. Open Links sounds like one such book and I cant wait to get my hands on it

    • Dom January 13, 2020
      Reply

      it’s definitely a fairy tale. Almost sold out and then I will start dispatching. Thanks for supporting, from me and Anthony Nolan

  6. Paul January 13, 2020
    Reply

    My copy has been ordered. Keep the fairytales and blogs coming. I need something to read while i recover from the kidney stone AND the flu i apparently received during my Christmas holiday in London

  7. Amandine V January 13, 2020
    Reply

    Hello Dom,
    I bought my copy !
    Perhaps, after read this book, i will buy Eclipsed or I, Gabriel.
    It will be my first time, i will read a book in English.

  8. Amy January 13, 2020
    Reply

    I love the fact that your books are all so different (although A Man’s Life was a bit of a surprise!). It’s refreshing as a reader to find an author who isn’t afraid of taking chances and trying new things.
    I want to add that I really admire the way you and your wife are teaching your sons about giving back and helping others. You’re both setting such a good example for them to follow and they are, in turn, inspiring others to do the same.

  9. Faaiz January 17, 2020
    Reply

    I’m very fond of fairy tales too. It was really cool to know that you and David Walliams share the same interests like writing books but for different audiences.

  10. Liz R January 23, 2020
    Reply

    This is great! Are there still books left for purchase? I just finished reading Eclipsed a couple weeks ago; I’ve been sick since right after Christmas, literally since last year, hahaha, and now that I’m not walking around in a hazy fog anymore, I feel like I’m out of the loop on everything.

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