Tag Archives: alan frost

Men and Sheds (2)

Gordon Thorburn, of ‘Men and Sheds’ fame (see two posts back – or here), has asked me if I would like to appear in his next shed book. I am sure you understand my dilemma. I more than just hinted that his book was creepy (all right, I know a book can’t actually be creepy, it is people who are creepy). So do I want to be in a book that contains some creepy people? Note that I said some, not all. Most men in the book are interesting people who just happen to do their thing in a shed because they wouldn’t be allowed to do it in the house. You wouldn’t want a potter’s kiln in your kitchen, for instance… okay, yes, of course you would, but it wouldn’t be allowed by Her Indoors, so you plump for a shed (that’s if you have space. Not so good if you live in a high-rise).

I have a shed but it is full of motorbikes. Her Indoors has a shed, a sparkly new one full of gardening stuff – but this is a MEN and sheds thing, it isn’t WOMEN and sheds. Gordon asked me if I wrote in my shed. I would very much like to (because writers of novels prefer to explore their alternative universe in private). But unfortunately I don’t. No room. Too many old motorbikes.

I do have a garage, though. The garage is quite big and is full of stuff. It scares me that I can go into it and find bits that I can use to fix almost anything household or mechanically-related, a lifetime’s accumulation of bits and bobs that would make Wallace and Grommet green with envy.

So do I or don’t I contact Gordon again and have my shed (and a photo or two) in his next book? Andy Wharhol said we all have fifteen minutes of fame, but I’ve probably had mine already, see here. I wrote as Alan Frost (Alan is my middle name. Frost was my surname for a few years after I was born… don’t ask…) and for my efforts I received a prize that was presented by Ian Rankin – a pile of fairly unreadable crime novels (not yours, Ian, I like yours). We chatted for some time and he asked me never to set any of my novels in Edinburgh. I took no notice. But you needn’t have worried, Ian. Literary Agents seem to have decided that I am no threat to you.

If I get into Gordon’s next book I will have to do a lot of tidying, because at present I can hardly get into my garage for stuff. And does a garage really count as a shed? It is most definitely a shed-substitute. But is it a shed in the way Gordon defines it? Time (and the need to shovel snow from the front of my genuine bike shed in order to open its doors), will decide. That’s if Gordon doesn’t decide first.

Gordon Thorburn is here.

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Debut Dagger

While I’m dropping names, I met Ian Rankin in Costa’s in Edinburgh’s George Street a few years ago. He was next to me in the queue for coffee. I’m ten years older than him and age gives you that extra bit of cheek and confidence. ‘Mr Rankin,’ I said. ‘Loved your last book.’
‘Fleshmarket Close, you mean?’
I nodded. ‘Met you in Manchester, you presented me with a prize. I was one of the runners up for the Debut Dagger Award. I was writing as Alan Frost.’
I didn’t expect him to remember me. He didn’t. At the awards we’d chatted for some time. I was living in Edinburgh at the time and I remember him joking that he’d rather I didn’t set any of my novels there.
No competition from me, Ian. Six years on and I still haven’t been published. I just haven’t been sending my stuff off. Perhaps I should try harder – not at writing, because I have no problems there. Try harder to get published, I mean. 
Rankin has a stock saying for prospective authors, ‘Keep writing!’
I came away feeling good, but kicking myself that I’d forgotten that he had just been awarded an Honorary Doctorate and I could – should, actually – have addressed him as Doctor Rankin, not Mister. 
Now that really would have been a nice touch.  

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