You know – I’m convinced no jury will convict. Everyone will sympathise with my passion and sense of outrage. No-one will blame me for harbouring thoughts of murder – or, at the very least, of committing GBH.
Because, let’s face it, we’ve all wanted to kill a crime writer at some time in our lives. For some, it’s the betrayal of having these sociopaths ruthlessly despatch a well-loved detective because they’ve grown bored with their sleuthing creations. Yes, I’m pointing at you, Conan Doyle! Pushed over some waterfalls, for Heaven’s sake! Suddenly Sherlock’s gone and there’s a hole in your reading life, a vital fictional friend ripped from your bosom.
Or a whodunit author grows lazy and complacent and stops making the plots so complicated, the suspects as intriguing or the motives as believable. He or she can’t be bothered teasing us with decent red herrings and the identity of the killer is obvious from page 22. Hmm – what have you got to say for yourself, Agatha? The butler did it? Really? I thought he was the corpse…
But these offences against society pale in comparison with my own suffering at the hands of one particular criminal mastermind. My sense of injustice is very personal. And David Robinson – author of the highly popular STAC murder mystery series and the new Midthorpe Mysteries – I name you as the transgressor. J’accuse!
The world has to know that this evil genius very nearly killed my infant – the apple of my cliched eye. He came close to snuffing out my darling first born. And only a miracle stopped him!
Let me explain…
I’ve been thinking about giving birth for months. All parents know how it is, you decide the time has finally come to create that little mirror image of yourself. And I reckoned I was ready to shoulder the responsibility and challenges of bringing a bouncing, squealing, fragile but beautiful newsletter into the world.
It would be wonderful, I told myself, a monthly bundle of joy to bring into my subscribers’ lives – some news, a bit of gossip, jokey author interviews, giveaways, bonus features, cover reveals and other fascinating tit-bits to share.
And labouring at my keyboard (did you see what I did there?) I carefully crafted and honed my creation, beavering away like a cross between Baron Frankenstein and Caractacus Potts. It wasn’t easy. There was a rather stubborn design program to learn, templates and themes to wrestle with, the intricacies of a mass mailing system to tame. And then there was the content to worry about. It HAD to be good. If readers weren’t impressed with issue one, I’d lose them.
But finally, after two weeks of sleepless afternoons and a serious tic developing around my right eye, it was ready. I did the jokey announcements on social media, gathered my initial sign-up victims through a mixture of bribes and bullying, and set up the automatic sending mechanism to 6am on September the first. And I shuffled off to bed to dream about world domination…
At 7am I awoke with a start, and my wife, and rushed to the computer to see how many people had already clicked on the wonderful document that had landed in their in-boxes. Only NONE of them had. Zilch.
To say I was stunned is an understatement. I was VERY stunned. It couldn’t have been apathy – I was holding the families of several subscribers locked up in my basement as hostages. It had to be something else.
The mailing program dashboard told me the newsletter had certainly gone out. Seemingly without a hitch. So WHAT was going on?
I quickly added four names to an emergency ‘Test’ group and sent a duplicate posting. Whoosh – away it went. But still no one was opening it.
Panicking, I immediately got in touch with my techie guru Phil Horton – who has got me out of some amazing technological scrapes in the past – and he got straight on the case. At first, he was as baffled as me.
He poked and prodded at the mailing system, changed settings and looked over the code – and after a while came back to report that everything was working just fine. It had, he predicted, to be some element in the newsletter email itself that was causing the problem.
And, for the next two hours, he painstakingly deconstructed my lovingly arranged newsletter, sending first one section then another to the test group to check if anything was arriving. Some parts did get through – others didn’t.
It had to be either the jpegs or the active links, we agreed – and by the 9th version of the now much-mangled document we finally identified the culprit. Not jpegs or links. It was… David Robinson!
I’d interviewed him for my author profile section and in one his hilarious answers he’d cracked a joke about Viagra. That was what was causing the chaos.
I hadn’t realised that every junk filter in the universe has Viagra as one of the first words to be automatically blocked to avoid spam adverts. The newsletter was bouncing off the electronic ‘decency doorman’ and not getting anywhere near any subscriber’s machine.
A quick change to the joke to remove the V-word and everything worked. Hallelujah!
Now, you may feel that my ire against David is a little unfair. He didn’t mean to sabotage the launch. If anything he was helping out by appearing in the inaugural issue and I want to make it clear that I totally accept that.
No, I have a much bigger bone to pick with him. Since yesterday I have Tommy Steele’s famous song from the film Tommy the Toreador echoing round my head and I can’t make it stop. That’s why I want to do damage to Mr R.
Altogether now: “Once upon a time there was a little blue pill, little blue pill…”
If you want to get David’s side of the story, click HERE.