It is World Book Day today. To mark it, I’ve chosen five highlights of my five years as a full-time author.
5) ‘And you’re quite good at scoring goals…’
When I was a full-time football magazine journalist in the late 1990s I interviewed over 100 footballers, but I never got to interview one of my favourites – Ian Wright. Let’s fast forward to 2007, when I was doing radio interviews to promote my book, The All-New Official Arsenal Miscellany. As I left the studio at TalkSport having been interviewed on the Hawksbee and Jacobs show, I saw Ian, (who presented a different show on the station). I marched up and introduced myself. He replied: ‘Yeah, I just heard you on-air – you’re very good on radio.’ So I replied: ‘Thank you – and you’re quite good at scoring goals’. He asked for a copy of my book and then asked me to sign it. Yes, he asked me for my autograph!
4) ‘But Mum, I wrote it!’
Occasionally I write books under ‘pen names’. Earlier this week, as I was having lunch with my Mum, she said: ‘I’ve got a present for you’ and proudly handed me a parcel. It felt like a book, so I was excited as I unwrapped it. It turned out to be a copy of one of the books I’ve written under a pen name – my Mum had no idea I’d written it!
3) ‘Ere, what about book about modern hypocrisy?’
When I was in my mid-20s, one of my favourite parts of the week was Saturday morning when I’d take The Guardian to a local cafe and eat a huge breakfast while reading Julie Burchill’s column. I loved how brilliantly she wound-up the paper’s core readership. Some years later I was sent to interview her for a magazine and we instantly hit it off. There followed regular, hysterical and gloriously hedonistic get-togethers at her place in Brighton during which we talked about our love of Israel and reality television. One day, she turned to me and said: ‘Ere, what about book about modern hypocrisy?’ So we wrote one. It is called Not In My Name: A Compendium of Modern Hypocrisy. Nick Cohen described it as ‘a spirited attack’ in The Observer, the Daily Mail called it: ‘Waspish and witty’. My favourite review was in the Jewish Chronicle, where Francesca Segal wrote: ‘And where has Newkey-Burden been all my life? His essay on Israel haters made me ache with gratitude. I had tears streaming down my face as I turned the pages. Because he’s right, of course.’ Thanks, Francesca!
2) Justin Bieber in Israel
My 2010 biography of Justin Bieber has been a best-seller in several countries having been translated into 12 languages including French, Indonesian, Japanese…and Hebrew. I was beyond excited to have my work translated into Hebrew but nothing could prepare me for this video from Israeli TV of excited Israelis buying my book on the day of publication. Emotional!
1) ‘You might as well be top of it…’
When my biography of Simon Cowell was published in 2009 it reached number two in the WH Smiths bestsellers chart. I enjoyed the moment but was left aching for a number one. I finally achieved that last Christmas, when my biography of Adele reached number one in the HMV book chart. Noel Gallagher once said: ‘If there’s a chart you might as well be top of it.’ Well, absolutely. Here’s to the next five years!
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