Strange day today. It’s always a struggle to concentrate on work when the kids are on holiday from school as they are this week, but today’s been particularly difficult.

First things first, this week’s first TRUST update is now available to read at Still waiting for a couple of giveaway winners to get back to me. Check your Facebook messages please, folks. Wow – it comes to something when you can’t give books away!

Back to today: If you’ve been following me for a while, chances are you’ll have read some of the interviews I’ve done over the years. I often get asked variations on the same questions, and they usually include one or more of the following:

  • Why do I write about the end of the world?
  • How do I come up with my ideas?
  • When do I write?
  • What do I do in my spare time?

Obviously I try not to give the same answers all the time, but one of the reasons I usually give for my fascination with the post-apocalyptic is that, in my opinion, we’re constantly treading a fine line between normality and everything going to absolute hell. Earthquakes are perfect examples of this. One minute, everything is normal; the next, without any warning, everything’s literally falling apart. Your entire world can change beyond all recognition in an instant. Our unwillingness to accept or dwell upon the fragility of our own lives is understandable but it’s there and I don’t think it should be ignored.

The answer to the other questions I just mentioned frequently include references to running. Anyone who knows me will know that I run regularly. I’ll tell people it’s because it’s the only time I don’t get interrupted or distracted, and that I come up with some of my best ideas and plot twists while I’m pounding the pavements, but the real reason I run is because I love it. It’s good for the mind and the body, and it helps keep me focused.

One of the reasons I’ve struggled to maintain that focus today is because I was running yesterday morning. I ran the Birmingham Half-marathon – a race I love and one of many I take part in every year. Yesterday’s race was absolutely brilliant. 18,000 entrants running through my home town on a beautiful Autumn morning. And it was one of those days when it all came together too. I’ve been off my usual pace this year for one reason or another, but I’d finally managed to get my training routine back in order in the last few weeks, and I felt really good all the way around the 13.1 mile course. I finished with a personal best for the event and my third fastest half-marathon time ever. Result.

And then later, whilst at my parents for Sunday dinner, relaxing, surrounded by my family, we heard that a runner had died. A local man, Kevin Paterson, collapsed after completing the event and, despite the best efforts of everyone involved, he tragically passed away.

It’s sobering, isn’t it?

I’ve spent a lot of today wondering if that could have been me? Kevin was 36, I’m 42 next month. We both trained well for the run by all accounts. I’m sure we both set off yesterday morning with the intention of running a good race and enjoying ourselves. Yet I’m here today along with all the other competitors, and Kevin isn’t.

You can tie yourself up in knots thinking about this sort of thing, and today I have, hence the struggle to concentrate. It’s the second time I’ve run in a race where someone has died, and it’s shocking. But what do you do? Should I stop? I don’t know if I could. I think it’s good to be aware of your own fragility, but you just have to accept it and not become a slave to it, I guess.

I’m coming to the end of writing a new novel – 17 DAYS – the lead character of which is living his life against a ticking clock, so perhaps I’ve just been thinking about death a little too much recently. Whatever the reason, walking that thin line between normality and chaos feels a little more precarious than usual today.

Apologies for the rambling, non-book-related post. Just wanted to get that off my chest. Back to zombies, aliens and all the usual stuff tomorrow.

My sincere, heartfelt sympathies go out to Kevin’s family and friends.

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