It is often said that no book is the work of just one man and it is no less the case with this book. Allow me to quickly thank those who have been essential in the creation of this, my first novel.

Gratitude to my father, who in order to demonstrate how important it is to back up my work, tossed the sole original manuscript in the fire. Lesson learnt! Furthermore, for reinforcing the lesson by incinerating the second version, painstakingly remembered, and for stamping on the external hard drive that held the other copy. You’re right, I did endanger us all by not removing the hard drive from the USB port safely, and I’m truly sorry. Quite why, or how, you waged cyber warfare on the dropbox that preserved the third version escapes me but like another Father we all know, love and fear, you move in mysterious ways (usually in the shadows and heavily armed).

Speaking of belief, I tip my cap to my mother, sweet Andrea, for declaring her belief that I did not possess ‘a shred’ of talent, thereby implying I’ve got lots of it. Of course, your Mum’s always going to say that, but still, it’s nice to hear.

To my wife Jennifer, thank you for understanding that writing is essentially a solitary pursuit. Your monastic commitment to not interacting with me has been a tremendous aid to the creative process. Thanks too to Gerry for allowing Jennifer to shelter in your abode for these last few years. Jennifer, you can come home now!

Really. Please come home.

I’ll sign a copy of the book but I won’t sign you know what.

Ah, to the apple of my eye, Liam- or if the deed poll has gone through by time of publication- Rocko. You’ve reached an important, transitory stage in your life, Rocko and I hope you’re adapting well to cell 457D. Your firsthand research of the penal and judicial system on my behalf has been indispensable, if unnecessary given that my book’s not about crime, per se, or at all. Personally, I always thought you’d go down for attempted patricide, so that you’ve made your own choices in life and opted to deliberately drop coins from skyscrapers instead shows an ingenuity and maturity beyond your tender 14 years.

A quick mention for: Pink Steve, Richie Squires, Banana, Hands Duo, Gibbo, Gubs and Tommy Funnel. Only you guys know what you mean to me and what your real names are.

Turning to the professional team that have made this all happen, here’s to my agent, Wilhelm. For those who’ve never met Wilhelm (and you’d remember if you had) he’s the only old school agent still in the game. When he told me he’d never heard of Kindle I took it as a concrete sign of ambition that we’d get the book published in print. In fact, he had never heard of Kindle or its equivalents. He also doesn’t have a fixed address. It wasn’t always plain sailing, was it, Wil? On one memorable occasion Wilhelm arranged a meeting at Random House publishers that turned out to be a meeting at a random house.

It was a dream come true then, when Laurie Lawerenson, my editor and publisher, decided to launch an entirely new company, Books For Reading?, with me as his first published author. As a publisher, your generous advance invoice for printing costs was essential, what with its 10% discount and incrementally increasing interest rates. As an editor, you’ve been extremely judicious, souring my work with a find tooth comb. Hopefully there weren’t to many mistakes in the first place, but if any remain then I claim fully culpability. [[INSERT HERE]]  Your notes were insightful too. I recall sound advice such as ‘have you tried writing in the 5th person?’, ‘more COMMAS all round’ and ‘SUSPENSE ?!?!’ It all seems like such a long time ago now.

Finally, to you, my reader: thanks for the support and for reading this far. I hope you read on, at the very least beyond the title page of my humble opus, Perfect Life: Parental and Marital Fulfilment In The Modern World.