The past 365 days have been a particularly great year for me.
There are all the obvious things that most of you already know. I’ve had my first book published to critical and public acclaim. It was even shortlisted in the BGE Irish Book Awards – (that was a shocker!) Because of the book, I’ve had the chance to meet a lot of new and fascinating people, including several fellow writers who have had nice and encouraging things to say. But the real joy has come from my many visits to schools and libraries. Meeting the children to have read or are reading my book is a pleasure incomparable to anything else. The enthusiasm kids today have for books is infectious and makes me want to go home and read/write even more.
I’ve spent a lot of the time in the past year learning how to be a writer. When I wrote the book in 2010, I kind of just stumbled into everything, feeling my way blindly. But at the start of 2011, I set myself some writing targets and got into a habit that I keep to today. Right now, I have the first drafts of the next two Arthur Quinn books complete and am working on a whole other story that I hope people will get to read one day.
My friends and family have been so supportive to me all year long that I can’t thank them enough. The same must be said for my publishers, Mercier Press, fellow authors and all the kids book enthusiasts I’ve met along the way.
But what else did 2011 mean to me? Well I thought I’d have a look back at some of my highlights. What were yours?
This has been quite a good year for films, although more so for the blockbusters than the art house successes. While no one can doubt the heart-wrenching brilliance of the final installment of Harry Potter, my top popcorn film of the year would have to be Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The action was great, the effects stunning and the story was more than engaging. But the real excellence of this movie lay in one scene. If you’ve seen the film, you’ll know what I mean; if you haven’t, you really should. For the first time ever in my life, I sat in a cinema and the audience – myself including – gasped as one. Which is why it was my cinematic highlight. No other film has ever elicited such a response.
I can’t write and read. I just find it difficult to concentrate on either. Since I wrote so much this year, I didn’t get to read as often as I’d like. But, for me, the obvious star of what I did read was the Choas Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness. It’s an intelligent, heart-pounding, affecting trilogy that deals in shades of grey rather than black and white. I know a lot of people will put Hunger Games as their highlight but, to me, Chaos Walking manages everything Hunger Games does and so much more. If you haven’t read them, check them out quick.
I like television and I think that the output of some of the major producers in the States (HBO and AMC especially) outshines much of our cinematic treats of the past few years. For me, though, there were two shining stars on the little black box. First up is HBOs Game of Thones. This adaptation was perfectly faithful to the books but yet managed to offer me enough new scenes and character development to keep my on the edge of my seat throughout. From the casting to the writing to the design to the score this was quite simply, a masterpiece in every way. The other series I loved was AMCs Breaking Bad. I’ve wanted to watch it for a few years now and only got around to it over the last couple of months but it is such a treat that I can’t recommend it enough. It takes a simple idea – chemistry teacher starts cooking meth to make some extra cash – and turns it into a layered and complex black comedy. Season 4 has just finished and 5 – the final season – is due in July.
I think there was only one full album that I bought this year. Everything else was just tracks. So, I guess that makes Adele’s 21 record my highlight of 2011. And it is a beautiful piece of work. If you haven’t seen Adele’s performance on the Brits, then you won’t understand just how good she is. Apart from Adele, I think this year has been particularly good for fun pop songs – two of the most infectiously sing-along tracks were One Direction’s ‘What Makes you Beautiful’ and Jessie J’s ‘Price Tag.’
So that’s it. 2011 is done.
2012 brings some fun Arthur Quinn news early in the year as well as book two around August. But apart from that – who knows!
So, to you, whoever you are, happy new year!