If you’ve read the biography page on my website, you’ll have come across the mention of a writer called Paul Auster.
And if you’ve known me long enough, you’ll recognise that same writer as one who is regularly mentioned or highlighted as being a great source of inspiration for me. In fact, if it weren’t for the influence of his writing, in particular the impact his book, Hand To Mouth, had on me when I read it in the 90s, then I simply would not be where I am today.
To put it simply, if it weren’t for Paul Auster, I wouldn’t be a writer.
When I read that book back in the late 90s, it made me realise that I could actually do it. I could (and would need) to have a regular job to pay bills etc., but it was that book and the words in it that opened the door to the realisation that I could also be a writer, and follow the long-forgotten desires I’d held to be a writer.
With that renewed self belief, I began down that very road. I enrolled in a creative writing course, joined forums, and started to write. I wrote a lot of things in a wide variety of form, eventually finding my voice (years later) and deciding where I wanted to focus my energies.
I have also met a lot of great people, whom I would not have if — and I’m aware I’m repeating myself here — if it weren’t for that book and Paul Auster.
Why am I telling you this? Because tonight, Monday 14th August 2017, I will finally be in the same room as Paul Auster.
He is due to give the first of two talks in Edinburgh, the first a keynote event as part of the Edinburgh International Festival’s 70th Anniversary, Spirit of ’47, at the Kings Theatre (Paul was 70 in February this year). The second a more traditional book festival event in Charlotte Square as part of the Edinburgh Book Festival itself.
To say I’m excited is an understatement. I’ve often wondered what it would take to get this man over to Scotland for the book festival, and on more than one occasion I’ve pitched the idea to the organisers. Thankfully, this dream is about to become true.
With my last novel receiving the best feedback of all my produced work, I’m already on a little bit of a high. By the time tonight and this week is over, I expected to be motivated and packed with self-belief and awe to a height never felt. That’s what I’m hoping for anyway. At the very least, I can say I met him (hopefully).
They say one should never meet their heroes as they will always let you down. That didn’t happen when I met the band Madness and it sure didn’t happen when I met William McIlvanney.
I’m hoping for nice neat run of three and that tonight, a dream will come true.