TRAIN OF THOUGHT
Source: The Scotsman, Scotlands national newspaper
View The Scotsman article online on the following link:http://living.scotsman.com/books.cfm?id=1096662007
LATE at night on the Edinburgh to Stirling train, you might just catch sight of a man tapping away on a laptop. Sit next to him, look at the screen, and you'll find he's writing a story set at the time of the Roman invasion of Britain.
He's been doing this for the best part of a year now, trying his hand at creative writing on the way home from work. He's clearly very good at it, for he's just landed a six-figure two-book deal from Transworld.
I know this because I work with him. Douglas Jackson is The Scotsman's assistant editor, production - responsible for each day's paper from start to finish, keeping track of stories hour by hour, making sure each one is properly displayed. It's a high-pressure, demanding job, yet he's never flustered.
On the train home, though, he's been quietly plotting his way through a novel set at the time of Caligula's assassination. It is tentatively called 'Whom the Gods Destroy', and it is set to be published next spring.
Jackson was encouraged to take up writing by journalist Nicola Barry (whose own memoir 'Mother's Ruin' was launched on Thursday). At first he tried his hand writing stories on the youwriteon website, on which other budding writers critique each other's work on a rating system that ensures that the top-rated contributors - as Jackson soon was - get a detailed assessment of their work from professional writers, agents and editors.
"The idea for the books about ancient Rome came when I was listening one night to Simon Schama's 'History of Britain' on the radio," he says. "He said something like, 'Claudius rode in triumph on an elephant in Colchester.'
"I started wondering about the guy who looked after the elephant and what his life must have been like."
One youwriteon editor loved the story but suggested setting it at the time of Caligula's assassination. The spell worked on other publishers too, with Transworld signing up Jackson for a two-book deal. He's delighted, but as modest and unflustered as ever. "I'm still just a guy who writes a bit on the train home," he says.
This post was last edited by Book News, 25 Jul 2007, 13:30