By Patrick Kincaid
A comic love story in which the discovery of a long-lost version of a cult movie sheds light on a 45-year-old love affair between a Hollywood filmmaker and a real-life Loch Ness monster hunter
Saturday, 9 March 2019
One Night in March - The Continuity Girl, Year One.
The author explains - Big Comfy Books, Coventry.
On the night of 9 March 2018, a group of friends and patrons gathered at The Big Comfy Bookshop in Coventry’s Fargo Village to help me celebrate the launch of my debut novel, The Continuity Girl.
A year ago – is that possible? I had been anticipating the moment for more than that, of course. Since at least December 2016, when Unbound launched the crowdfunding campaign (to which most of those present at Big Comfy Books had contributed). Arguably, I’d anticipated it for much longer than that: since I began writing the novel, in a cottage in a vineyard near Abergavenny, in August 2015, or since I joined a writing group in 2007, or since I wrote my first ever story in 1976…
It’s been a very busy year since, and one that requires a whole acknowledgement page of its own, to sit alongside the one in the book, and lists of patrons. The Continuity Girl was launched on the Unbound Digital list, which means that it was first-and-foremost an e-book. Many of you who have read it will have found it via Bookbub or the Pigeonhole, and I am grateful to those who left reviews on Amazon in the UK and US. The tally of 59 reviews is extraordinary, and the fact that more than 90% of those reviewing enjoyed the book enough to award it five stars is really heartening.
There was a paperback, and though it was not launched nationally in the UK, it made quite a journey. Certain heroic bookshops took the plunge and offered it for sale anyway, and to these I must pay tribute.
At Kenilworth Books, World Book Night, 2018
As well as Big Comfy Books, Tree House Bookshop in Kenilworth, and Books and Ink in Banbury – essentially second-hand bookshops which have nevertheless been very supportive – The Continuity Girl has made its way into Kenilworth Bookshop, South Kensington Books, Sam Read Bookseller (Grasmere), Warwick Books, Blackwell’s in Edinburgh, the bookstall at Eden Court Arts Centre (Inverness), and several branches of Waterstone’s – namely, Leamington Spa, Coventry, Nuneaton and Nottingham.
With fellow Unbound author, Abda Khan at Waterstone's Coventry
Beyond that, the novel went on a sort of world tour. Spain, Austria, California, Brazil, Australia… Oh, and of course, the Scottish Highlands. The Oscar in the picture below was awarded to IAL Diamond for his part in writing the screenplay for Billy Wilder’s The Apartment. He also co-scripted The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, the movie at the heart of the novel. This snap was taken by the screenwriting son of the screenwriter, Paul Diamond, who has been tremendously supportive throughout, when he might have been affronted. I was stepping all over his territory here. The novelist and late-period-Billy-Wilder fantatic Jonathan Coe was also very kind.
California leg of the world tour...
In September, I was asked to sit on a panel at the Kenilworth Arts Festival’s Literary Weekend with two other Midlands-based writers: fellow newbie Harriet Cummings and bestseller-chart regular Mike Gayle. The talk was hosted by Tamsin Rosewell of Kenilworth Books, a tireless supporter of local writing talent and of small presses.
With Harriet Cummings and Mike Gayle at Kenilworth Arts Festival
In October, several Unbound authors gathered for a conference in Nottingham Waterstone’s organised by Eamonn Griffin. I talked comedy on a panel led by Unbound stalwart and sometime QI elf Stevyn Colgan and including of Sue Clark, Philip Whitely and Robert Woodshaw. Other fellow Unbounders I ought to mention, who helped me through offering support, showing the way, writing reviews on their blogs, or just becoming a sort of 21st century pen pal, include EO Higgins, Paul Holbrook, Natilie Fergie, Virginia Moffatt, Ivy Ngeow, Ewan Lawrie, Jessica Martin, Eli Allison, Sarah Marr, Imran Khan, Joshua Winning, Maximilian Hawker, Lulu Allison, Lev Parikian, Tamsen Courtenay, Damon Wakes... I’ve definitely missed people who should be here (and will amend); the truth is that the discussions on the Facebook Unbound page have been equal parts comforting and helpful.
I should also thank Anne Cater of Random Things for organising a blog tour for The Continuity Girl in August.
Lastly, if there can be a lastly, I must thank again those 200 plus who made a pledge of faith in the novel when it was being crowdfunded. I hope you feel that your punt paid out, and that you got something worth at least as much as what you put it…
So, that was the first year of The Continuity Girl, and of my attempts to forge something that might be called a writing career. I have plans, which hopefully I’ll be able to tell you about soon, both here and on my website. Please watch this space. Or, you know, go about your day, eat, drink plenty of water, and check back from time to time.
Das Script-Girl (Heyne), translated by Tobias Rothenbücher. Set to launch May 2019.