It feels good. I’ve just sent off the final version of the last book in the Dead Hairy trilogy. After much computer chewing and pencil gazing (or was it the other way round?) Monkie Business is done and dusted.

Well , dusted at least. Just like anything I’ve ever written, it feels miles from done. Every time I read over my work – which is not for ages after it’s been packed off – I rewrite great chunks in my head.

Is that the disease of all writers? Once I start rereading, I can’t leave it alone. Why did I put ‘these’ instead of ‘those’ on page 57? Why did the gardener’s eyes glitter and not gleam? After half an hour of deciding where a comma should go, later readings send it dancing down the sentence and back again.

It’s not the same when I read other books. I don’t wonder why Tolkien wrote ‘spears’ of sunlight instead of ‘arrows’, or why Stanley Yelnats staggered rather than stumbled across Camp Green Lake in Holes. I just read the blessed story.

And yet there’s still a huge interaction. While it may not be such a judgmental one, a book is always a team effort, a living, unique relationship between the reader and author. It’s not surprising when you think of all the variables. There’s the mood of the reader; the ache in his legs after soccer practice; the geography test she’s dreading tomorrow; the pollen count; the government …

No wonder my Bilbo has bigger ears than yours, even though we’ve read the same words. Of course my Stanley can love crunchy peanut butter while yours prefers smooth. And as for Hubris Klench – does the burger-shaped baddie really deserve what’s coming to him?

Ha! You’ll have to decide for yourself.*

*Monkie Business will be out in February.