Author of the best selling, The Humans, Matt Haig has been nominated for the Carnegie Medal three times. On 27th April, he begins a two-week residency at Falmouth University. That’s wonderful, but there’s just one problem. The position is taken.
Well OK, it’s not but it is. I guess you’d have to say, if he’s the writer in residence, I am the semi-resident writer. It all started with the food in the canteen…
It was the depths of winter, a little less than three years ago, when someone passed on a rumour that the canteen at Falmouth University had started serving food in the evenings. At the time, I was – and still am – living in a 12 foot caravan in a field near Penryn.
I have no electric, and no shower, so you can imagine how excited I was at the prospect of a warm place to sit and eat food not prepared by candle light. Heaven. And it was warm. Oh the shear illicit joy of tucking into cottage pie under electric light. I nearly wept.
Then there’s the shower outside the library. You, with your mod cons might not realise this, but a shower is an outing. Oh yes it is.
And there’s a library – yes I know – filled with books. I began to dwell, and to continue to work on what I started when I was even more home free – living in my van at the side of the road – my book. I became semi-resident.
I was always scared my muddy wellies might give me away, so I would drop hints to the dinner ladies implying I might be a member of staff: “Ho hum, another long day…” “Gosh I can’t wait for the holidays…”
Filled with hot grub and pricked by a slight sense of guilt at the enormity of my deception, I wrote and wrote.
There have been other writers in residence. Owen Shears was one, Lionel Shriver spoke here, and now of course Dawn French is in on the action – it’s been nice to see them. But through it all, I’ve been here, scribbling on, hoping to one day be someone’s discovery.
They no longer do grub in the evenings, but it doesn’t matter so much now because I’ve gone legit. I work here.
Fulmar is the book – a coming of age story from Cornwall. It’s finished and I’m plugging away promoting it. The reviews have been excellent so far. Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll swap places with Matt. In the meantime, from one resident to another, I say, welcome to Falmouth, I look forward to the pleasure of your company. But let’s get one thing straight. I’m the one who lives here.