OK. What could be more amazing than finding Ben Okri on Twitter and learning that "Ben will be here from time to time to share his poetry and writing, but otherwise this page is maintained by Rider Books"?
It's finding Salman Rushdie. The author of 'Midnight's Children' is on Twitter and rearing to go.
It began when @SalmanRushdie1 wrote on his twitter account, "With some trepidation, I am beginning to tweet. If you want to hear what sort of noise I end up making, please follow me."
Why 'SalmanRushdie1'? Well, because, there was already a 'SalmanRushdie' on Twitter, and Sir Salman said as much on his first profile, revealing that Twitter was refusing to verify that this indeed was him. One of his first tweets was to stare down at his own shadow, so to speak, to confront the man, woman or thing masquerading as 'Salman Rushdie': "Who are you? Why are you pretending to be me? Release this username. You are a phoney. All followers please note." [Update: Rushdie has since dropped the '1' from his handle, having reclaimed 'SalmanRushdie' from the imposter]
Twitter may have been refusing to verify, but readers recognised an original voice straightaway. Thousands signed up to follow Rushdie between yesterday and today alone. And they were amply rewarded. For where else will you have a great author chatting on tweeter with Kylie Minogue, Patrick French, Mia Farrow, Stephen Fry and Margaret Attwood ("Hi Peggy, I just joined the madhouse...")? Or refraining from going into the details of Christopher Hitchens' illness in public ("Allow me to not say more, please...")?
Rushdie racked up the excitement further by declaring that he was going produce a whole new short story, titled A Globe of Heaven, starting today, entirely on Twitter. Shrewd negotiator, the author noted this morning that he'd pulled in nearly 10,000 followers, and promised that once the magic number was reached, he would start tweeting the story. In minutes, 10,000 followers were in the bag, and the story began.
A thousand retweets, two profile images later, and Twitter verification almost almost a certainty, Rushdie posted his third bio in less than 24 hours: "...As Popeye the Sailor Man said, I yam what I yam and that's what I yam."
We know. We know.
This is going to be so much fun, and Rushdie no doubt is enjoying himself. No doubt whose fingers are tapping out those tweets, definitely not some publishing rep. It's the real article.
But for any writer tempted to stay glued to Rushdie's twitter account permanently, a note of caution from the man himself. As he said in one tweet to another author, "I've just handed in revised MS of my memoir, so I have time to waste here."
--Update The Guardian: Salman Rushdie's Twitter debut