The Labrador Pact was written on a series of Wide Ruled A4 Refill Pads purchased from WH Smith, using a Papermate Flexigrip Ultra pen.

Most of the writing was done in my bed, but some of it was done in my living room. One chapter (‘chop’) was written on a GNER train travelling to my girlfriends’ parents house near Durham.

My girlfriend helped type it up onto her Packard Bell laptop, using Microsoft Windows ME software. OK, she typed the whole thing up. She is a fast-typer. I am not, even though I used to make a living with my own Internet PR firm and writing about the Internet and computers.

I listened to a variety of albums during the writing process. Including:

Stevie Wonder, Hotter than July

Missy Elliot, Miss E . . . So Addictive

Sade, Diamond Life

Coldplay, Parachutes

Ian Brown, Music of the Spheres

Marvin Gaye, What's going on

Basement Jaxx, Rooty

Felix Da Housecat, Excursions

U2, The Best of 1990 – 2000

Dusty Springfield, Dusty

The Smiths, Best II

Red Hot Chilli Peppers, By the Way

Al Green, Al

I didn’t write while watching TV, except for two paragraphs completed during an episode of Six Feet Under. Hopefully you aren’t able to tell which two paragraphs they are.

I tried not to read too much during the months I was writing. I think they call it ‘anxiety of influence’. But anyway, I made exceptions for:

Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections

Stephen King, On Writing

Ovid, Metamorphoses

JG Ballard, Super-Cannes

William Boyd, Any Human Heart

Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

Jon Ronson, Them

Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential

Men’s Health magazine (but only the workout sections)

The TV pages (various newspapers)

Cereal boxes

Back of toilet roll (an Andrex competition)

Road signs

Bank statements

The food ate during this period was vegetarian, and principally from Safeway supermarket. A near-disastrous moment occurred nearly half-way through the novel when I spilt a glass of Ribena over a pad full of work. A hairdryer and some very quick-thinking on my girlfriend’s behalf saved the day.

Most days I would walk to the park with my girlfriend and test ideas out on her. She would tell me if they were crap or if they were good. If she said they were crap I would argue with her but then have to agree.

On Saturdays we went to a really tacky bar near where we live and would often row because I wanted to stay out later than her. In fact, we still do that.

Writing started in January 2002, although at that point the idea of the Labrador narrator hadn’t arrived in my head. The novel was going to be narrated by each member of the family telling their story to a silent family therapist. Writing finished in August 2002 and I congratulated all the characters and took them out for a celebratory drink (I didn’t really. I’m just trying to be all clever and postmodern).

It was then sent to the Bell Lomax literary agency, which had recently set up, and seemed to be relevant. They said they liked it and wanted to represent me. Five months later, in May 2003, I got a call from my agent to say Jonathan Cape wanted to publish TLP. I was in bed at the time. It felt for a few seconds like I had won Pop Idol, although Ant and Dec weren’t there to interview me, and no-one in the country knew or cared about this news.

I then went to meet my new publishers, and nearly had a panic-attack in the lift up to the seventh floor of Random House. My publisher was fantastic and very reassuring though, and told me the book would appear in May 2004. I am now in the process of working with various humans and Labradors to check that I got all the details right.