2014 has been, it’s fair to say, one of the more memorable years I’ve had in my life. No small part of this was because of the publication of my first book, Blazing Star, which was my attempt to deal with my fascination with the brilliant, seductive and much-misunderstood John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester. My adventures along the way have included being reviewed in virtually every title imaginable, from the Daily Mail to the London Review Of Books (and in the latter, by none other than Terry Eagleton); giving talks at some of my favourite bookshops to appreciative, erudite (and often far smarter than I) audiences; appearing on the radio; getting involved in a spat with an academic; and generally doing all I can to promote the life and work of a great man as best I can.
To this end, I’ve been delighted by some of the kindness and appreciation that readers have shown towards the book, not least Thom Cuell, aka The Workshy Fop, who not only wrote my favourite review, but very generously described it as one of his favourite non-fiction titles of the year. But thanks to everyone who’s contacted me by email, tweet, Facebook or in person to discuss the book – it has been a pleasure to talk to you all.
2015 promises to be no less busy. For starters, I have my second book coming out in the autumn – currently titled ‘Restoration: A Year In History’, which will explore English social history in 1666. Not that I’m done with the wicked Earl just yet; watch this space for further readings and appearances in the new year. And my current project, ‘Byron and Women’ is going well; as with Blazing Star, it’s an almost obscene amount of fun to write, and I hope that you’ll enjoy reading it when it eventually appears in the shops.
On that note, I wish you all a happy, bibulous Christmas and New Year, and hope that you celebrate in a manner that would make John Wilmot himself proud.