Happy New Year! Time for the annual roundup.
It's been an incredibly busy year. Top highlights:
- Did the annual road trip to Belgium with Cathryn, this time to Bruges instead of Torhout (Part I / II), had a fabulous birthday in London and ended up visiting standing stones with my mate Jon in Cardiff.
- Signed with Ghostwoods Books, an absolutely brilliant publisher who took on Rosy Hours, created a stunning cover (thanks to Gábor Csigás and the art of Iranian photographer Babak Fatholahi) and raised an £11k marketing budget for their projects through Kickstarter. I'm in safe hands.
- I went to Asia for the first time. Had an incredible time visiting my good friends Ruairí and Martine who moved to Laos last year. All of the trip is blogged, but the highlights included the New Year festival of Pii Mai, which is basically a giant water fight (Part I / II / III & IV), Vang Vieng, Phonsavan (Plain of Jars), Luang Prabang and, best of all: Kuang Si Falls. Oh, and not forgetting a cycle past the local hospital, setting for Colin Cotterill's Dr Siri Paiboun series.
- From there, I flew over Sari, setting for Rosy Hours, towards Nairobi. This was the whole need-to-answer-a-question oath of last year. In between all of that silliness, I did have a lovely time with elephants, saw a great play. Even joined a drumming circle and went for a ride through the woods. I reckoned I'd spent about 20 hours in transit in Nairobi airport over the years, but never actually seen the city. In the three weeks I was there they blew up the local market, evacuated all the Western tourists, shot a man in the street and murdered the guard next door. It was nothing if not eventful.
- In search of calmer climes, and nursing a bruised ego, I continued on to my old stomping ground of Kigali, Rwanda. Got drunk with the outgoing Commissioner General of Burundi (an old friend), started a consulting company, received a two-year visa, did some work including a programme evaluation and a documentary - really proud of all that - moved to Kagugu, Gikondo and then Kanombe in the space of a few months. Now have a beautiful house, a wonderful landlord/friend and a vegetable garden. Took road trips to Muhazi, Gisenyi, and watched some excellent Intore dancing.
- Thanks to the lovely crime writer Adrian Magson, got myself featured in the December issue of Writing Magazine.
So, yes, it's been an eventful year and my life now is very different to how it was this time last year, though more like it was five years ago. Did all the travelling, and more, that I had intended to do in 2013.
My oath for last year was to 'ask the question I most want to know the answer to.' Which I did, in a round about sort of way. I was very much smitten by somebody I met some years ago. I wanted to know if there was anything there - there wasn't.
Wish I'd asked that one four years ago.
Still, I've met some lovely people since, and re-joined the land of the almost rational. Plus, if I hadn't set myself that oath of finding out, I would never have booked a plane ticket back to Africa, seen Laos, or ended up living in my lovely house with my lovely friends and my - occasionally quite trying - business.
Rejection can be a great catalyst.
Though I must admit, I miss the friendship.
Still, it's the New Year, time to look to the future and forget the past.
My Oath this year is an easy one. I've been so wholly overwhelmed by my new publisher's enthusiasm and support that it's rejuvenated my love of writing. I'm currently working on a new novel and I intend to finish it before the year is out.
My Boast: There have been so many extraordinary experiences and minor triumphs this year. But, heck, I was interviewed in the UK's largest national writing magazine! Hell, yes. Famous for a day. (A close second to that is that I moved halfway around the world and set up a company which I am now the CEO of... yeah, that was pretty impressive too).
And, finally, my Toast for 2015?
Oh, fuck it, let me be maudlin for a moment.
To unrequited love. Though we are left foolish in its wake, for a while at least it sparks our hope and our imagination. It certainly led me to write the best work I have ever written.
May we all be left to dream a little longer.