Well, here we are. Monday morning, the 12th of October. A little before 6.00am and I am leaving Nashville. I have a connection in Dallas Forth Worth, Texas, and then a flight to Atlanta, Georgia where I will be doing an event at Borders on Peachtree Road NE at 7.00pm.
Last night I figured it out - all the distances between the places I am visiting. It came to a little over 12,000 miles. That's in ten or eleven days. Having just completed a 6000-mile round trip of Belgium and France it adds up somewhat! 18,000 miles in a month, and all to meet readers, booksellers, to talk about writing and other things of common interest like music and food and good wine and friends.
I want to say a huge thank you to Barbie Chadwick for being my host here in Nashville. I want to express my gratitude to the Southern Festival of Books, and Humanities Tennessee for inviting me, for their wonderful reception and kindness, and I really hope I can come back sometime soon. I also want to say thanks to Mary Ann Nichols. Mary Ann lives here in Tennessee; she's a good friend of Jack's (my publicist), and she gave up her afternoon yesterday to have some lunch with me, to talk about Nashville, about Tennessee and Mississippi, to tell some tales and recount some anecdotes. It was a wonderful afternoon, and I know she had many other things she should have been doing, but she gave me her afternoon and I really, really appreciated it. People like Mary Ann are where that famous reputation for famous Southern hospitality came from.
It's times like these - sat in a hotel somewhere on the other side of the world, where I take a moment to look at where I came from (not just Birmingham...you know what I mean, right?), and I consider the four and a half million words of unpublished handwritten manuscripts in my loft, the hundreds of rejection letters, the years of trying and trying and trying, the sheer cost (something in the region of £12,000) of what I spent on photocopying and postage through those years, and all to be told 'Thanks, but no thanks'.
At the event yesterday I explained the philosophy back of my persistence, something that was expressed very clearly in a quote from Disraeli. 'Success is entirely dependent upon constancy of purpose'. Now, I am nowhere near achieving the level of success I want to - not at all. I am a wee baby as far as the American bookbuying and reading public are concerned, but I have made a start. I am here. I am going to make this 12,000 mile trip around the East Coast and I am going to make as many friends as I can and try and convince as many people as possible to give 'A Quiet Belief In Angels' a go. Okay, it's written by an Englishman, but - if yesterday's reception and welcome is anything to go by - American readers are the same as British and Irish and French and Belgian readers. They just want a good story. They just want to know that the author did his damnedest to write as good a book as he could, and I think it's safe to say that I did that.
So off I go. I have a cab arriving imminently. I'm gone from Nashville and on the way to Atlanta, Georgia. Not the first time I've been to Georgia. I was there for a week with Channel 4 in 2007. That was a hell of an experience. Absolutely unforgettable.
Oh, one final thank you to Jack and Aaron and Peter and Linda and Veda and everyone at Overlook. I wouldn't be here without you, and I think you know how much this means to me.
Best wishes, and speak to you from Georgia.