Work in Progress
The fifth Albia book, finally titled The Third Nero, is now in production. We had twelve months of argument over its (to me) feeble title, but I have made them allow a subtitle. (I road-tested it when touring, to gales of happy laughter.)
Then came the jacket, where I have the right to be ‘consulted’. People often ask me what that entails: in the USA we have Albia wielding another horrible weapon. Well, we are used to that. In the UK, I requested a harp (or if that was strangely impossible, a wreath, portrait or coin of Nero, or one of many appropriate Roman or Parthian objects, some very beautiful…) Time ran out, so an image was imposed. What it represents, and how it is supposedly relevant had to be explained to me.
So my friends – COMPETITION TIME!
A signed copy will be awarded to whoever sends me the funniest description of this ‘image’ and how it could relate to a satirical story about spies and their tradecraft in the ancient world. Deadline: 6 April, which is UK publication. (You don’t have to read the book first, that will only confuse you.)
Last autumn I decided that although I have always said the eruption of Vesuvius is much too tragic a setting for a Falco or Albia story, it would work as a novella. So, If you have tears, prepare to shed them now… I have answered your question, what happened to Larius? in Vesuvius By Night. This is finished and will be available from March as a digital download and audiobook.
And Another Giveaway
Sometimes in the past we have had simple book auctions, but I want to try something different: My cupboard is overflowing with spare book copies and here’s an offer: Anyone who makes a donation of at least £10 to Fishbourne Roman Palace may then send me their postal details for a signed book as a thank you from me.
https://sussexpast.co.uk/shop/fishbourne-roman-palace-donation Please use Giftaid if you can.
I will contribute P&P, any destination, one per person, and titles only while available, mainly: Shadows in Bronze, Venus in Copper, The Iron Hand of Mars, The Accusers, Ode to a Banker, Alexandria, Nemesis, The Ides of April, Enemies at Home, Deadly Election.
Who Are You Now?
Ten years ago I asked for your help in a survey, so I would know what the range of my readers was. This was interesting for me, but also on occasions very useful. If you’d like to help again, here’s a new version.
Readers choices I’ve been sent lovely suggestions for Ides of April and Deadly Election but we still need readers’ favourite lines from Enemies at Home and The Graveyard of the Hesperides, plus Spooky, and of course the new book and novella, so do send your favourite quotes.
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.