Work in Progress
The fifth Albia book, which was finally titled The Third Nero, is finished and now being processed. It’s about spying, and I had a lot of fun with this. (“What’s the elephant doing there?” – my editor.)
I had some interesting new venues in my book tour, and a few more remain so do check out the News page. Travel is not so easy for me now, and this will affect what I can agree to do in future. It’s interesting that because I look mobile, some people (event organisers!) find it hard to grasp that one reason for this is that I am taking more care to avoid journeys that are too physically demanding. Readers get worried when I explain this, but please don’t. My personal trainer, the aptly named Marcus, claims there are years in me yet. Thanks to him, this is probably true, though not if he gets me drunk and walks me home along the canal towpath.
Readers choices I’ve been sent lovely suggestions for Ides of April and Deadly Election but we still need readers’ favourite lines for other Albia books, including Spooky, so do send your favourite quotes if you would like to.
The plan is that I shall write another download-only ‘short’. It’s about the eruption of Vesuvius and since I still think that is too tragic for my main style of book, it will be slightly outside my series. Not entirely, however, for as well as a new main character, there will be one we know of old.
This needs to be written by Christmas… (guffaws!) After that, more Albia stories have been commissioned.
In both the UK and US most of my backlist is now available again, sometimes with a new reader. This is good news for those of you who like single voice recordings, though I’m afraid the situation is less good on the old BBC radio serials, which used to be available as physical CDs. The BBC is somewhat elusive, but as far as I can tell, after first telling me they were perhaps to issue a full boxed set, instead they have decided to stop releasing any physical versions at all. They do continue to broadcast the serials from time to time on Radio 4X (I can’t tell you when, because they never tell me) and after each broadcast the episodes are available for 30 days on the BBC I-Player system. I think their CD policy is, let us say, misguided, and if you do too, you can always tell them what you feel.
There is more good news. In addition to Spain, Italy and the Czech Republic which I told you about previously, I am delighted that in Turkey Alfa Yayinlari have agreed to publish the first three of the Albia series.
In 1997/8 I was Honorary President of the UK Classical Association. I recommend joining if you are interested in the jolly side of classics. See their website,www.classicalassociation.org.
Organ Donor Card Appeal
This is a personal appeal on an issue where I have experience from both sides.
Please carry a donor card. And if ever you are in the sad position of having to decide whether to agree to organ donation from someone close to you, please consider the good you may do. Honour their wishes if they carry a card. If not, then it is your choice; please use the opportunity. I understand just how hard it is at the time – but I can also tell you, because I have had to do it, that afterwards you will feel glad you took the decision to say yes.
Lives can be saved or dramatically improved by organ transplants. From childhood, I had a rare eye condition called keratoconus. Eventually I needed a corneal transplant – not often mentioned when organ donation is discussed, though in fact one donor can save the sight of two people. Being able to see, without discomfort, helps me to write. A stranger’s generosity freed me from years of pain and anxiety. I was never able to thank my donor or their relatives, but I shall always remember them. Every time you read one of my books, you too are a beneficiary of their gift to me.