The website of David F Porteous
From December 2014 to May 2015, I worked with sound engineer David Chisholm on recording the audiobook for Singular. During what turned out to be our third-last session - which, for the purposes of narrative we were pretending was our last session - my friend and occasional co-conspirator David Candy dropped by to take some obviously staged photographs "behind the scenes".
Only people called David were involved in this project. These are real people, not other personalities I have.
Anyway - photographs!
DFP asks whether, even to the untrained eye, it will be obvious that much of the equipment in this photograph is being used incorrectly
DFP pretends to listen to audio using only one headphone, because he's seen other people do that in like films and shit
DFP pretends to have made a risqué joke while David Chisholm, who hasn't dressed like a batman villain but is instead wearing normal clothes, looks on in bemusement
in easily the most awkward moment of either man's life, DFP and David Chisholm fake a high five for the fake ending of the recording sessions. At the actual end of the recording sessions, some weeks later, there was no actual high five. Look at the awkwardness - that's almost certainly a future leader of a political party right there.
Singular was finished about a year ago. I always say the best way to appreciate a book is by reading all of the words in the book in sequential order. But a close second is reading only the most common 100 words in the book, as a big mashed-up pile on a page. Enter Wordle.net - one of my favourite free text summary tools.
Now you can, by looking at this simple image, identify the names of the key characters in Singular and see that I have quite the passion for similie. I like like like a man who likely has issues with the word love.
"It's a very small room," he said. "Watch out for the light when we go in".
The room is at the top of Central Library in Edinburgh, a George Washington Brown building constructed eccentrically with Carnegie money in the late nineteenth century. It is an office that would adequately accommodate four people so long as none of them were trying to run a photographic studio.
I'm to be part of a series - authors who have done readings at the library. Those already shot include Ian Rankin and Alasdair Gray - who earlier in the day won the Saltire Society's Book of the Year Award, declined the honour, and was given it anyway. It's an exhibition years in the making and I'm sure whether I actually feature in the final line-up will depend substantially on the sales of the second book.
With the umbrella-sized battery of light tubes a few feet from my face, I adopt the pose that all previous sitters have adopted; turned slightly away, but eyes toward the camera. I'm repeatedly told to open my eyes wide, because as it turns out I've been squinting since the mid-80s.
All of this is a prelude to the event itself - my first public reading and a discussion of what it's like to have written and published your first novel. Certain fathoms below the microstudio the guests are assembling in a basement space, expecting to be entertained. I feel like I felt when I did stand-up almost a decade ago - nervous and powerful, like I'm carrying a static charge that makes all my hair stand up.
"Have a look," the other of the pair of photographers bids me and I shuffle around the equipment to peer at a Mac screen. The photo itself is very good, but is let down by the subject.
"I'd be grateful," I say, "if you could trim it so you can't see the contour of my man boob".
The first photographer nods soberly, adding, "Don't worry: we've done this
Mark Douglas-Home and I pass in the green room as he goes to have his picture taken next. He's the other name on the bill and by far the more credible - former editor of the Glasgow Herald and possessed of enough sense to write a crime novel; you know, something people actually read.
I'm presented to the event chair - Scottish veteran journalist Jackie McGlone, who is an immediately appealing mix of Muriel Spark and Mary Portas. I try to correct a few details in the biography she's been supplied with, but she already knows; she's done her research.
When Mark returns, the three of us are mic'ed-up and we all firmly express no preference as to where we sit.
"I'm sure I have a good side," I say. "I just can't tell which one it is".
We laugh, but I'm not writing that one down. Eventually we settle on me on Jackie's right, Mark on her left and descend to the basement where the audience is waiting, the lights are dimmed and the microphones go live.
Really nice piece in this week's East Lothian Courier about me and the book. If you didn't already know a bit about how Singular got started then it's a pretty good intro.
I'm now on Goodreads, which seems like a great way to share reviews and current reads. If you're reading or if you've read Singular and you're on Goodreads, then let me know.
Also, quick reminder that tomorrow is the very last day you can "like" Singular on Facebook for a chance to win the proof copy (signed - try and stop me). Links in the bar above.
"Mr. Porteous manages to blend science ficiton with a dose of sharp humor and pokes at some of the other areas of the science fiction world. The book is a nice blend of both the real and the surreal world"
Read Rick's full review on his website. (He'll also be giving a copy away at some point).
"I’m Scottish, six foot two inches tall and in my very, very late twenties. (This year I’ll be 31). By day I’m a social research consultant. By night I use those same skills to fight crime – with limited success. And at the weekends I’m a writer".
Read the rest of my interview with BK Walker here: http://tinyurl.com/6bh4q2c
Things happen with bloggers. They're not the kind of people you'd trust to show up at exactly the right time to save the day. Not showered and shaved at any rate.
It's two days after the first stop on the Singular Virtual Book Tour should have happened but nothing's been done and my emails aren't being answered. So I'm posting the guest blog that should have gone up on that website here. Enjoy.
There’s a quote – there’s always a quote. “Every author portrays himself in his works, even if it be against his will”.
When I gave a draft of Singular to my beta readers, the most common feedback I received was that the main character was obviously me. It was feedback I’d been expecting. The initial events in Singular are based substantially on my own experience surrounding misdiagnosis and treatment for cancer in late 2009. I started writing the book while I was in the examination room waiting to speak to the consultant for the first time.
If Patrick Clark is anyone, he is me.
What surprised me was nobody said that any of the other characters reminded them of me. After all, they are. Greg Calame, the embittered and hard-bitten journalist. Katherine Valentine, the vain and ambitious systems engineer. The unnamed ‘it’: the creature within the machine struggling to connect with the real world. If these characters – all of whom are fairly unpleasant – are anyone, they are me.
I’ve never heard a writer say otherwise.
To make a character credible, you have to understand them. Every good and noble act, every wicked and perverse deed comes from the writer’s mind.
There was, in Bram Stoker, a few drops of vampire blood. There was, in Victor Hugo, the seed frustration of the martinet. There is, in Thomas Harris, a little bit of a cannibal – no more than a mouthful, I expect.
The great villains of fiction have a capacity to make us love them because they reflect the dark thoughts we never voice; not because they are different to us, because they are, in aspect, the same as we are. I believe the most desirably quality of the monster is freedom – and this is a theme I’m exploring in the novel I’m writing at the moment.
It’s not necessary to like all of our characters, as we recognise that there are many aspects to our nature, some of which we value and others we wish we could change. If a writer is to produce the being we call a character, that facsimile of life will always be traced in some faint way from the writer.
When I reflect now, some eight months after my first feedback on Singular, I think the reason why Patrick was seen as being me and the other characters weren’t is an issue of relatability. Within pages of meeting them we learn that Greg wants revenge, Katherine wants power, ‘it’ wants the most ephemeral concept of all: freedom. What Patrick wants is to live.
Those other struggles, which we may find difficult to articulate in our own lives, are less visceral than the first, primal want. And rather than saying “Patrick Clark is you”, I think the identification was deeper; that what people felt was closer to “Patrick Clark is me”.
You can follow the tour’s progress on my website www.dfpiii.com or follow me on Twitter @dfpiii or using the hashtag #SVBT. Also, at the end of the book tour, one lucky person who “likes” Singular on Facebook will receive the signed proof copy of the US print edition of Singular – a one-of-a-kind, never-be-another prize.
The full details of the Singular Virtual Book Tour have been posted online - along with my bio and the book's summary - at the Virtual Book Tour Cafe.
Links to all the events will be posted on this blog and in oodles of other places.
How can you get involved? I'm glad you asked. Well if you want to drop by any of the participating websites, read the posts and ask some questions that would be great.
There's also going to be a giveaway at the end of the tour: the proof copy of the US print edition of Singular, signed and with a special message from me inside. It's the only copy there will ever be - I couldn't give this prize again even if I wanted to.
How can you win this prize (whose value is $7.95 + postage + priceless)? I'm glad you asked that too. All you need to do is go to the Facebook page of Singular and click "like". That's it. If it could be simpler I don't know how.
At the end of the tour I'll randomly select one person from all the "like"rs and I'll contact them to let them know.
Hope to see you out on the tour.
There’s a Community Chest card in the board game Monopoly that congratulates you on winning second prize in a beauty contest. Just after midnight this morning, I drew that card.
I got an email from the organisers of the west coast book festival announcing the grand prize winner – who received a $1,500 prize and a trip to the city by the bay (the city that rocks, the city that never stops). It wasn’t me.
But right there, after a long scroll, was the science fiction category and Singular was the runner-up.
I’m enormously pleased by the result and the recognition.
And if you haven’t bought a copy of the book already, and you’re in the UK, you can get 20% off from LULU until May 16th using the code LUCKYUK305. See the Singular page for links.
The virtual book tour for Singular has been arranged. Twenty dates from 16 May to 30 June 2011 including 7 interviews with me, 8 guest blogs, 3 reviews and at least 5 prize giveaways (including a one-of-a-kind prize to be announced on the 16th). I'm very excited to be working with the Virtual Book Tour Cafe and with all the other bloggers and reviewers involved.
I'll be using the Twitter hashtag #svbt (Singular Virtual Book Tour) and I'll use the SVBT tag on my blog so you can keep track of all the latest posts and updating the Singular's page on Facebook.