Well, this year has been an exciting one already. There has been so much happening (almost all of it indoors since the weather is still as reliably lousy as it was during the winter) that it's hard for me to keep my focus.
I have already warned folks that the Puttock/Furnshill series is taking a break. It's been really good to receive so many lovely comments from people who're going to miss their annual injection of Devon murders, but the reasons are good. It's better to slope off quietly while I'm still ahead of the game, and I think that City of Fiends is a really good point to pause.
The problem, of course, is that there is so much more to investigate: the recapture of Edward II, his incarceration at Berkeley, the stories of his death (much overstated) and his subsequent escape and journey to northern Italy. These are stories that will have to be told, and when I can afford to go to Northern Italy to visit his final resting place, I will begin the planning. But it will be a while.
The next book, of course, Templar's Acre, will be a prequel, and this will look at Baldwin's early life and what lead to his joining the Temple in the first place. Now, some will no doubt disagree, but personally I think it's probably my best. You will be able to judge it in less than a year - it'll be available in June, I think.
But June is a long way off. Yes, I do understand that. So I thought that some readers might want to round off their understanding of the Templar series with a little collection of the short stories: just for you, I've compiled all four Baldwin/Puttock short stories (which means I've checked and made sure that I own the rights to them, basically) and have published them myself.
I'm afraid that they are only on Kindle at present, but I have hopes that one day they could be collected with a few more and printed for those who like 'real' books and not Kindle devices. Still, the main thing is, they're ready for you to buy and read on your phone, tablet, iPad or computer, using the Kindle reading application. Or, if you are one of the millions who have one, you could buy it for your actual Kindle!
If you want to take a look, please go to http://lnkd.in/Zqk_Mt for UK-based readers, or http://lnkd.in/9G6GpH for American customers of Amazon. Oh, and if you like the stories, please don't forget to put in a good word for me. A five star rating and a few words complimenting the stories never hurt!
And the next piece of news is that I am collaborating with a brilliant little epublishing firm called Acorn to finally get my modern thriller out into the world. It's taken an age to try to get interest for this story, but I think it'll sell really well and should open up a new market for me. I've always been a keen reader of well-written thrillers, and I've wanted to write one and see it published ever since reading Dogs of War by Frederick Forsyth - a superbly-paced book with excitement and an accurate portrayal of mercenaries at work.
Watch this space. My thriller will be out in late September, once copyedits and proofs are complete. And then I will be starting as a Royal Literary Fund Fellow, too.
The Royal Literary Fund was created hundreds of years ago, mainly to support struggling authors when they found that their income was hurt. I know several writers who have benefitted from this marvellous institution. In recent years it has set up the Fellowship Scheme to help students at university with one-on-one advice with writing their essays. I'll be going to Exeter University two days a week to help the students there, and I have to admit I'm really looking forward to it. It should be a great experience - just being out of the office for a few days a week will be wonderful. Tiring, but wonderful!
This last weekend I went all the way up to Kelmarsh, a hall owned by English Heritage, a few miles south of Birmingham.
Every year they hold a Festival of History at Kelmarsh, and the Historical Writers' Association works with them to produce a literary event each year that is just stunning. Last year I went for the first time, and seeing the re-enactors at their work was marvellous. It's so full of brilliant knowledge, I was keen to go again.
This year, because it was so good and educational, I brought my whole family. We borrowed a friend's campervan and drove up on Friday, camping in the main tented field where all the re-enactors were staying. And it exceeded expectations. As we drove around, we saw Romans, Vikings, some Victorian lancers, knights, First World War soldiers - the lot. The place was fizzing with excitement.
Saturday was a bit drizzly when we woke. There was a lot of talking all around the van, and I was a little grumpy when I finally got up. I don't do early mornings. Not with a smile on my face, anyway. When I looked out, I could see why the poor devils were making such a fuss. It had rained overnight, and the extra torrential downpour, on top of the last few weeks of solid rain, made the river burst its banks. The whole field, practically, was under water. A new river, a foot deep and fast-flowing, had appeared near our van, and had washed through a number of the tents, while all the others, and I do mean all, were sodden. All the armour and weaponry was soaked and probably starting to rust. The field itself, where there were to have been cavalry charges, jousting, and even a recreation of a WW1 trench, were so badly waterlogged that the entire weekend had to be cancelled. A miserable end to what had promised to be such a great time, it was very sad.
But there is another Historical event soon. The great guys at Goldsboro Books in Cecil Court, London, are to hold another of their brilliant History in the Court events, and I'm hoping to get to it, so perhaps I can see some readers there again this year.
And that, for now, is pretty much it. I am typing madly, writing a book about the Battle of Crécy, which I will have to submit to my editor in October, and looking forward with extreme trepidation to a set of copyedit comments for Templar's Acre, an editor's first take on my thriller, my wife's proof reading of A Case of Identity (a modern short story which I'll Kindle before too long), and other works. Then there's the new project I'm working on as a ghost writer, and the concept for a TV series, too.
Perhaps it's lucky we aren't getting a holiday this year. I don't think I could cope! All best wishes. I do hope you all have a brilliant summer and holidays - while I'm sitting in a darkened room typing. Don't forget to take copies of City of Fiends and For the Love of Old Bones with you when you go on vacation!