Alistair’s book, ‘Tales of Mirth and Woe’, has just arrived in Dorchester’s Waterstones. But his signing this morning didn’t exactly go to plan. The shop couldn’t find the books which slightly put pay to his signing. Never mind, he shrugged, the book has been more popular on the internet.
The internet has made Alistair a star. After winning the Guardian’s Blog of the Year Award in 2002, his website Scary Duck has gone from strength to strength. Anita Rodick, one of the Guardian judges, called his writing “better than Jeffery Archer” and awarded him £1,000.
That a blogger from Weymouth can be compared to the best selling novelist proves the power of the web. As Alistair puts it, “The internet brings equality. It also brings freedom – there are no rules, no boundaries. The only censorship you face is the one you impose on yourself.”
|Scary Duck - Alistair's alter-ego|
Alistair started blogging five years ago to express his thoughts on the world and to make people laugh. He also wanted to use the internet to keep in touch with home, while he was working four days a week in Reading.
This raises a smile from Alistair’s wife, Vanessa, “It helps me keep track of what’s going on. Sometimes I read about things I didn’t already know about…”
But Vanessa is supportive of Alistair’s blog. She’s even thinking about starting one herself – Mrs Scary Duck. But why the name? It comes from a family in-joke after their daughter was given a rubber duck for the bath. It sets the tone for the website - family focused, quirky and fun.
Blogging, according to Alistair, is giving more power to the little people. “If a business treats me badly, I blog about it. My friends might then blog about it too. Before you know it, when you Google that business, you get a page of negative comments. So it’s in their interests to treat us well.”
|"The internet brings equality. It also brings freedom – there are no rules, no boundaries. "|
It’s also changing our idea of community. No longer are we limited to speaking to the people who are physically near us – our family, work mates, shopkeepers. Now, with the help of the internet, we’re able to communicate on a daily basis with people across the world.
Alistair explains, “The internet isn’t local – it’s enabled us to network across the globe. I get emailed all the time from Canada and the Netherlands. One fan has even translated some of my blogs in to Dutch!”
Publishing a book, however, has presented new challenges. “I had to think what my parents might think of my writing, and leave out the bits that were too rude.” He was encouraged by the support he received from other published writers, particularly the author Neil Gaiman who wrote Alistair’s introduction.
But Alistair knows where he came from, and is not about to abandon the internet. “My book would not have been published if it hadn’t been for the website. I’ve got plans to do more blogging – not less.”