Having sent my book tour winging around the blogosphere yesterday morning, I jumped on a train and did my own zip to London in a shorter time than ever before - less than 2 hrs - on the new Pendolino. I'd like to say there was no hitch, but in fact my train was cancelled, and I had to catch the one twenty minutes later, due to a 'faytality' as the information guy told me in a chirpy it's-that-usual-inconvenience voice, so it wasn't quite the happy-go-lucky journey it might have been. And kind of apposite, in a way, as I was off to the launch of a wonderful new book of stories from Salt, Ballistics, by Alex Keegan who began writing after he was involved in the Clapham train disaster.
I met up with my gang at Euston and we all went along to Pizza Paradiso, where the launch was taking place. I met Alex only recently, but I now feel as if I've known him forever, and it's not just because we're both part-Irish, part-Welsh. Alex is a force of nature with boundless energy, and you'd never have guessed he was still suffering a bad fluey cold. He is famous as the man who ran around helping others after the Clapham crash, while covered in blood. This event caused him to reassess his life and he gave up business for writing, publishing several successful crime novels before turning to punchy, gutsy literary short stories.
We had a great evening listening to Alex talk about writing (Alex runs the web literary school, Boot Camp, and several of his Bootcampers were there) and reading from his work, and hearing a dramatized poem of his performed.
Introducing Alex at the start, our publisher Jen (above) told us that just about every story in the collection had won a prize, and, having read two so far I'm not surprised. Finally, after the readings, several of us settled down and had a meal, which was a simply lovely way to round off the evening.