This week the group discussed the second chapter of Robert's novel-in-progress The Spaniard's Wife. All I knew about this was that Robert had described it as a work of 'faction', i.e. a novel woven around actual historical events. As the newest member of the group I had to do my homework and read the first chapter as well as the one under scrutiny. Far from the rather stately historical saga I was expecting the extract turned out to be a gritty, not to say brutally realistic depiction of 1912 Glasgow which reminded me of Martin Scorsese's film Gangs of New York. All quite a departure from Robert's children's book Olympic Mind Games. The Spaniards' Wife promises to be an impressive, wide-ranging and ambitious novel and we look forward to reading further chapters. Meanwhile, group members bemoaned how tired they were by - if not of - their 'day jobs' and the problem of finding the time and energy to write when writing is a sideline and not the main means of keeping the proverbial wolf from the door.
Trying to avoid sounding too bitter, Chris had a rant about Jonathan Creek star Alan Davies who was apparently heard complaining about how boring it was promoting his new book on The Simon Mayo Show. Robert also showed signs of world-weariness when the conversation ranged from Derren Brown to Dan Brown - one Brown had apparently successfully predicted the lottery numbers, the other had played and evidently won the booktrade lottery that day with the publication of The Lost Symbol - which, for all its commercial success, Mark Lawson in The Guardian described as "a puzzling, rollicking piece of tosh".
While all little-known authors lose the plot from time to time, the prize this week must have gone to Linda who - exhausted after a gruelling working week - came out with the idea that Arthur Ransome had just died. In fact, although a new biography had been published last month (which might explain why Linda thinks she has recently read about him in the papers) poor old Arthur died in 1967. It all goes to show it certainly isn't easy to hold down a job, write in your spare time and keep up to date with the latest literary news.