This year has become one of my busiest ever - not only because of writing, for once.
It's been one of those years when there's been plenty to celebrate. My mother has managed to reach the grand, young age of 80. Which is a near-miracle when you hear that she's also just had her 60th wedding anniversary with my father, who is about to have his 89th birthday too. All of which has involved a great deal of travelling to and fro to the ancestral pile. Well, their bungalow, anyway. And because it was an important occasion, my brother Alan and his wife flew over from New Zealand to join in, along with their son and his delightful girlfriend. So we've been pretty inundated with parties.
That would be good, if only it didn't get in the way of typing. And seeing to the vegetable patch, and walking the dogs, among other things!
US TRIP CANCELLED
Before carrying on, though, I need to pass on apologies to all who were hoping to see me in the USA. As you know, if you saw my last newsletter, I had been intending to get over to the Historical Novel Society convention, and I'd also been invited to Phoenix. I'd hoped to get to Indiana and to Scottsdale, too, among other places, but I'm afraid that the recession has hit me, the sterling/dollar exchange rate, and everyone in publishing at the same time. It meant that the whole trip was working out to be far too expensive, I'm afraid, and something had to give before my wallet suffered a terminal problem.
I'm really sorry about this. I'd been looking forward to getting over to the USA again for the first time in a couple of years. Hopefully I'll be able to make it next year, instead.
However, that hasn't affected my other wanderings. This year I've been enormously lucky, and was asked to travel to Italy again. My publisher out there, Hobby & Work, under the excellent direction of my editor, Luigi Sanvito, is about to bring out Crediton Killings, and we have high hopes for the sales there.
The Italians are always enormously kind and generous to writers, and it's always really good to meet readers over there. This year I was sent to Piacenza, a beautiful old town an hour or so from Milan. While there it was good to meet with some old friends and make some new ones: Olen Steinhauer, author of that great book The Tourist; James Grady (now officially adoptive uncle to my kids); Serge Quadruppani; Beppe Sebaste; Tim Willocks; Joe Lansdale; Joe Cottonwood; David Liss; Will Kaufman; Jeff Konkel (thanks for the CD); David Fulmer; Ashley Kahn; Jeff Deaver - all wonderful company in the Italian heat.
Unlike most literary festivals this one includes a load of music, too. It's based on the Blues, because the river, the Po, is huge, and the Italians consider it to be their Mississippi. So as well as all the writers we were lucky enough to meet, there were also a whole bunch of fantastic musicians and singers. As soon as Kasey Lansdale's next CD comes out, we're buying it, and I'm hunting down all Grayson Capps's CDs already. Fantastic songs and singers.
The good news now is that book 27, No Law in the Land is already floating quietly along the high streets to a shop near you. That's out in hardback and large paperback formats, while King of Thieves is ready for you to buy in paperback too. Both are sporting the new coverstyles, which I hope you'll like.
Apparently the general reception has been very good, and there are high hopes for sales for these. Well, I have high hopes, anyway!
At the same time, the latest Medieval Murderers' book is out. This one is number 5, called King Arthur's Bones, and Simon and Schuster are expecting massive sales, apparently. Well, I can live with their aspiration!
Meanwhile, book 28 has been accepted, and The Bishop Must Die will be ready to buy in time for Christmas. Get your orders in early, though!
As usual, I have been sent a number of these books in hardback and trade paperback (hardback size but softcovers). If you would like to get hold of my books earlier than Amazon, do please let me know, either on or on (the second is because AOL and some other servers don't apparently like my usual mail server). The prices aren't discounted, so it's an expensive route for acquisition, but they will at least be individually signed for you - and you will have the book in your hands much faster! Please be aware that I'm away from my desk for the next week, though, so don't expect immediate responses to emails. The price? The books in hard back are £20, while the trade paperbacks are £13. Postage to the UK is £2.50, to Europe, £5.00, and to the USA and rest of the world, I'm afraid it's £9.00. Nothing I can do about the prices, sadly - it's the standard UK postal rates.
So, instead of travelling the world this year, I'm travelling around the UK a lot more. And not only with Medieval Murderers. Last year I was asked if I would join a new wandering group of authors, called delightfully enough Bloody Brits. A sentiment, if not a title, which so many will associate with.
Bloody Brits comprises Danuta Reah (aka Carla Banks), a friend of mine for many years; Sue Walker, who is another superb psychological thriller writer; the singer Helen Reah; and the fabulous Clark Berger, who is a flamenco and classical guitarist. The result is an interesting evening of music, song, and readings by the three authors.
Having the music as well makes for a much more special evening, and the reception at our four gigs so far has been very positive indeed, largely thanks to the wonderful Matthew Linley, our touring manager.
In addition to all this work, I'm also waiting with some excitement to hear whether the BBC reckons my script for radio is good enough. The story for the play was taken from my short story A Question of Identity which was first published in ID: Crimes of Identity. The whole concept is modern day, and was well received when it was first published - the critic in the Guardian was very pleased with it indeed - so I have some hopes of hearing it at some point.
The interesting thing about the play and the short story is that they have given me some brilliant ideas for a whole new series set in the modern day. Don't worry - it doesn't mean that I'll give up on the medieval England of Baldwin and Simon. I adore that period, and it's so much a part of me now, that getting into the 1320s is like going home after a holiday. Still, it would be nice for my wife to experience a more full life: such as, when she mentioned something in the news or from the TV, to see that there was instant recognition in my eyes rather than the hunted expression of an author desperately seeking the correct century. So, it is possible that this year I'll have a new spy thriller placed with a publisher too, and I hope that you'll like the new themes.
Apart from all this, I have managed to get some walking on the moors too. My brother Keith has asked to join me on a longish wander later in the summer, and we're hoping to get out for a stomp of three or four days in which we'll walk the ancient trail of the Perambulation of Dartmoor. This was the route taken by the King's officers to ensure that the boundaries were known by all. The first perambulation was around 1240, and was undertaken by twelve knights or so. It should be a fun walk - about 50 miles - and so long as the weather's not too bad (which is some hope on the moors) we should survive it. Keith's that little bit older than me ... and a lot fitter, so he'll be OK!
And that is about it for this newsletter. Again, I am really sorry not to make it to the States this year, but hopefully I'll be able to do it next year. I'm determined to get out to the International Thriller Writers' Thrillerfest in New York next year, come what may, so hopefully I'll meet some of you out there.
In the meantime, though, I hope you have a great summer - and that you enjoy the new books, of course!