Interesting to see that Jarvis Cocker is joining Faber as an editor, what a quirky, lovely event. I love Pulp and listen to Jarvis on 6 Music on Sundays when I remember he's on (listening again is just not the same). Faber's editorial director was the agent who very much encouraged me to turn The State of Me into a novel, when I showed it to her in 2000. Back then, it was a very long short story - maybe 20,000 words - called Through the Round Window. I did not think I had the stamina to write a novel, and had no idea about writing novels, but somehow I got there. She said I wrote 'clear, gorgeous prose' - that phrase has always stayed with me. She was no longer working as an agent when I eventually finished the book, five/six years later, but she was certainly instrumental in my keeping the faith that my writing worked. Self-belief, I think, is the greatest tool to getting your book published. Well worn advice but true, if you don't truly believe in your writing no one else will. I think the final word count was around 100,000 but I would need to check. BBC Alba asked how I managed to write a novel, having ME. I could not write a whole first draft, which I imagine is how most writers write. I certainly had an outline, but I would finish one chapter, polish it up as much as I could before going on to the next. I simply could not have faced having to go back over 100,000 raw words, editing from scratch, that would have been overwhelming. The book has an episodic feel - short scenes and pauses - and I think that very much reflects the illness, the many necessary rests in-between tasks, the white space, the gaps where you 'recover'. Again, this was all unconscious, I wrote what I wrote, the way that I could. I remain so happy I got there, and especially now, with all the XMRV/WPI stramash, my novel almost feels historical, pre- any of this research/debate. I think though, although it spans 1983-1995, it still very much reflects the truth of the illness, the chaos and hell we find ourselves part of. As always, my heart goes out to those who remain severely and unremittingly ill.