Deadline by Barbara Nadel

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I thought I’d start the year with an utterly shameless plug for my new Çetin İkmen book. ‘Deadline’ is the 15th outing of the hard smoking Turkish detective and I hope that readers will agree that age is not withering him. I can’t go into the plot in too much detail or none of your will read it, but it is set in the very evocative and historically significant Pera Palas Hotel. This is really THE hotel in İstanbul in spite of new luxurious contenders like the Four Seasons (formally a prison, which I am ancient enough to remember!). Everyone, but EVERYONE has stayed at the Pera Palas – Atatürk, the Queen, me, King Zog of Albania, Greta Garbo, me, Mata Hari, Ernest Hemingway, Agatha Christie, me, Jackie Onassis, Edward VII and Mrs Simpson and of course, me to name but a few. What İkmen gets up to in there, well, it involves Agatha Christie’s favourite room, 411, a modern Turkish crime writer, a samovar and some cross dressing. I shall say no more.

The other deadline in my life at the moment is the one I have been given to edit my latest Hakim and Arnold novel (provisionally called ‘An Act of Kindness’). This is not a complicated job but it is long winded and labour intensive, mainly because it is an exercise in tidying up my prose. All authors have to do the editing thing and most of us would agree that it isn’t the worst job in the world. But it isn’t the best either. You have to steel yourself to it as well as, if possible, bribing yourself into it too. I don’t use goods, as such, but rather time as the sweet at the end of the massive effort that is editing. I say, ‘Look if you do this you can have a few days off. You can go where you like, when you like and if you want to sit on the sofa all day watching strangers on TV shout at each other about sexual misdemeanors you can do so.’ And it makes me happy enough to work through my editing and emerge, knackered, at the other side. However…

However when the reward actually arrives I rarely know what to do with it. At the moment I live up a mountain in a rain cloud and so I have to really travel to find anything approaching sun. And let’s face it, even if I didn’t live up a mountain I’d still live here in the UK which has just had its wettest year since records began. So I stare out at the rain and watch little Trailor-Lucy-Fifi’s mum call one of the five men who might be her dad, a wanker and then I’m done with the TV and switch it off. I might read for a bit, if a book really grabs me and that is probably the only way I’ll use my reward to anything like good effect. But if I can’t find a book that engages me, I’m in trouble. Stranded in a rain cloud on a workless cliff of my own making, I usually contemplate going somewhere and buying something I don’t need, but I never do this. Instead what usually happenss is that I go back to work. Editing done I move on to whatever is going to be my next book and then I’m all happy and fluffy again. Pathetic.

But what can I do? I’ve apparently worked myself into workoholic land and I just can’t do without it. So I’m an addict? So sue me! Happy 2013 and here’s to lots and lots of work.

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