When I gave up the day job back in August 1980, we took half of the advance money from Chimera and set off for the US with the intention of stretching it out as far as we could and staying until it was gone. We travelled coast to coast and spent the main part of our time in Arizona, where I had the notion to set a novel. We’d passed through Phoenix going in the opposite direction two years before, and some aspect of the place had planted a hook in my mind.
It didn’t quite work out as I’d planned. We stayed for several months and had a memorable time; gambling in Las Vegas, riding down the Grand Canyon on mules, walking the rim of Meteor Crater, riding night shifts with the Phoenix Police. But the novel never quite happened. The concept had preceded the experience, and in the light of the experience the concept seemed naïve. After a year or so I received a query from the Inland Revenue. They wanted to know about this trip that I’d claimed as an allowable tax expense. Where was the novel it was supposed to have led to?
I sent them my outlines and my unfinished drafts. Ah, they wrote back. Now we can see why you didn’t get anywhere with it.
Everyone’s a critic.