Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Flying High

Where did the summer go?

I was away at Duxford Air Show in Cambridgeshire only the other day, revelling in warm sunshine and Merlin engines, but today even here in Devon the north wind takes my breath away as I make my dash to the village post-box and back. It's depressing. I'm not ready for winter.

To cheer myself up I have posted a picture of me in a custard-yellow Tiger Moth biplane about to take to the skies. Huge fun.

I came dashing home from that high point determined to throw myself headlong into the new book, only to find:-

a) numerous email interviews awaiting my attention and filling up my time. I know they're essential as Publication Day in the UK approaches (1st November in case you haven't noticed) but they divert my attention away from the book (it's way too easily diverted).

b) a Buick-size rat putrefying under a cabinet - a tit-for-tat game my cat Misty is expert at to teach me not to go away.

c) a lazy summer-mind seems to have been slotted scarily into my skull to replace my writing-mind while I was on hols. Hmm, not a good way to start a book.

d) I like being home again.

e) Nowhere is more beautiful than Devon.

Okay, okay, time to pick up the pen and start writing.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

On Target

Fabulous news!

From my editor Jackie in America. In the USA a huge store-chain called Target (1500 stores) has selected The Russian Concubine to launch its new dual Book Club. With front-of-department prominence, internet promotion and a mind-numbing 20 million circulars to get the ball rolling.

So hey, dreams do come true.

I feel honoured. For an author to have the deep satisfaction of knowing that so many people will be reading and talking about the book is profoundly rewarding. To make that connection with the minds and imaginations of so many readers is a privilege.

The Russian Concubine is about the bonds that form between people as they struggle to survive in a harsh world, and now the book itself is forging bonds. With its readers.

Thank you, Target.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Publicity machine

The publicity machine is beginning to hum. I like the noises it’s making. My UK publisher, LittleBrown, is starting to give The Russian Concubine a good push in national and local press, radio, magazines etc.

This is exciting for an author. After all the blood, sweat and damn hard grind of giving birth to a book, it is heartbreaking if it is then left to fend for itself in a vast sea of other books, all fighting for space and spotlight in the bookshops, jostling each other for the book-buyer’s attention.

That’s where the magic words ‘front-of-store’ come into play. One of the facts I’ve gleaned recently is that a huge percentage (I can’t recall exactly what the figure is but I know it’s indecently BIG) of would-be purchasers never get further than the first ten feet of the shop. Too much of a rush? Too bemused? Too bored? Too something anyway. They just grab one of the first books they see and run. Therefore, for ‘front-of-store’ read ‘gold-dust’.

So you can see why a bit of Publisher Pressure is vital. That’s where Joanne, Tamsin, Louise, Emma and their cohorts at LittleBrown come in. They are working hard to raise awareness of The Russian Concubine before its launch in November, aided by a great review in The Bookseller – the UK trade mag that can open bookshop doors.

My lunch with the LittleBrown team was hugely enjoyable – in Joe Allen’s in Covent Garden, a cool place to eat – and they weren’t scary at all, just full of enthusiasm for The Russian Concubine and its progress so far. And patient when bombarded with questions. We got through lots of good stuff and serious discussions about titles and sequels. You can see a picture of us, raising a medicinal glass of something – hmm, I notice it seems to be quite a theme of the photos on this blog!

But afterwards, instead of the dutiful hours I’d intended to spend in the British Library – seizing the opportunity for more research – I popped into its hallowed halls only briefly. Instead I was seduced into buying a new Zara jacket and going for a lovely drink with my agent, Teresa. Devon is a gorgeous place to live and I adore its sea, sand, rivers and moors galore, but it is not much good at shops. So when in London, how could I resist?

Right, that was fun-time. Now it’s work-time.