I’ve been assessing the progress of my Sinister Masterplan to Conquer the Universe.

Phase One: The Black Tattoo. I’m delighted to say that I recently accepted an offer from a company who want to translate and publish the book in Indonesia. I’ve also been receiving some wonderful and heartening messages lately in the Black Tat Guestbook.

Phase Two: Tim, Defender of the Earth. Take a look at this…

This is the German edition of Tim, published just last month – a pleasingly pulpy-looking and pickuppable paperback. I was particularly happy to discover that KER-RASHHH! — the noise the Big Ben tower makes when Tim caber-tosses it into Mallahide’s chest — has been rendered into German by translator Lisa Kuppler as the satisfyingly evocative KRAWUMMM!

Phase Three: Crawlers. I’ve recently signed a deal to have the book translated and published in Hungary. An unabridged UK audio edition is also in the works.

Phase Four – the title of which I’ll announce in due course – is a novella to be published by Barrington Stoke. That’s signed, sealed and delivered, current release date January 2012.

Phase Five… OK, here’s where it gets difficult.

On Aug 6th of last month, after six months of writing, thirty-five thousand words of draft, four hundred pages of notes and a lot of agonizing, I abandoned the project I’d thought was Phase Five. This was not an easy decision to make. Admitting to myself – and my agent and publisher, and now you – that I led myself down a story dead end wasn’t and isn’t easy either. I don’t approve of writers who make too much fuss and drama about the job but I can reaffirm for you now (in case you didn’t know) that failing to write a book can be every bit as exhausting as finishing one can be, with the additional effect of a massive, crushing drain on one’s morale. For the few weeks since, I’ve been taking some time off. I’m feeling better. I’ve now scraped my sorry remaining braincells into a loose, watery bolus and I’m preparing to embark on a completely new story, from scratch.

It’s scary, but exciting too. In an email to me yesterday fellow TBM stalwart Barry Hutchison asked, “Do we have the best job in the world, or what?” He wasn’t going to get any argument from me. So: time for me to straighten my spine, and start all over again