Wednesday, 1 July 2009

The Concubine's Secret


Today is Publication Day in the UK for The Concubine's Secret (titled The Girl From Junchow in US). I keep thinking I'll get used to this, the launch of my latest book, that I'll learn to take it in my stride as an author. But it doesn't get any easier.

It's still as nerve-racking as the first time, this whole process of letting one's beloved brainchild take its initial tottering steps. And I cannot shake my addiction to popping into book stores to check that it's on display, to loiter around the front tables, seeing who is - or more worryingly, who isn't - picking it up. The temptation to thrust it into shoppers' hands is strong, but I resist.

WHSmith is doing me proud with a special promotion of The Russian Concubine and The Concubine's Secret in a pack together and I love the idea of both Lydia's stories going out hand in hand. They belong together. Writing a sequel was a risky step, but I learnt a lot while doing it.

One of the main delights for an author when writing a book is getting to know the main characters, watching them develop and feeling them grow. You inevitably fall in love with them with all the passion and heady excitement of a new relationship. But when I came back to them for the sequel after a year's break, it was different. We were old friends by then, had been through a lot together, so our relationship had changed.

It's a bit like having children and one day you look at them and realise they've grown up, no longer 'trailing clouds of glory'. You have to adjust. Form a new relationship. And that's what I did with Lydia, enjoying seeing her mature but grieving the loss of her childish innocence. I needn't have worried though. She still led me on a wild and convoluted chase, took me to places I hadn't planned for, and swept me up in the intensity of her love for Chang An Lo.

I loved writing The Concubine's Secret but the time has come to let go. That's what I'll be doing when on Saturday (4th July) I'll be signing books at Torbay Bookshop, Paignton, Devon.

54 comments:

Marg said...

Good luck with your release Kate!

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Marg,

Thanks for your good wishes. I had a great signing session this morning - so it's up and running. Next week I'll sneak around the bookstores and see how it's doing out there.

Lee Sadler said...

Kate. I just finished reading The Russian Concubine. I was so elated that you had written the conclusion. It was so profound,and beautifully, written. I definitely will be reading all your novels.
Sincerely Lee

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Lee,
So pleased to hear you enjoyed TRC. Just be aware if buying my books on the internet that The Red Scarf and Under a Blood Red Sky are the same book, one with a US title, the other with a UK title. The same is true of The Girl from Junchow and The Concubine's Secret. Confusing, I know. But hopefully the next book will have the same title both sides of the Atlantic. Thanks for your comments.

Lee Sadler said...

Kate, Hope to visit one of your book signings on this side of the Atlantic. I felt such a connection to the places you have taken your readers. Hoping you much success in your future.

Alli said...

Hi Kate!!!
I loved both of your books about Lydia Ivanova. I actually just finished "Girl From Junchow" today and absolutely loved it. And I just ordered the "Red Scarf" online yesterday. I can't wait to read it.

I was wondering are you planning to have a sequel to that book about Chang and Lydia in Hong Kong??? ...I think it'd be awesome!

Looking forward to reading more of your wonderful books!
~Alli

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Alli,
Thanks for your generous comments. Lydia is very close to my heart and I am reluctant to abandon her altogether yet, so I may well end up writing about her in Hong Kong with Chang. But at the moment I am actually writing the prequel - the story of how Valentina met Jens in Tsarist Russia and how the revolution in 1917 tore their lives apart. Which means, of course, that Lydia features as a very feisty little child! To be published next summer.

Janae said...

I am so excited to hear the sequel is done. I was intrigued with "The Russian Concubine" and have shared it with many. Thank you for your creativity and knowledge of this time period!!!

Anonymous said...

Ahh...I just finished The Girl from Junchow.....Wow, what a fantastic book. I did not want the story to end. I look forward to, with fingers crossed, immersing myself once again into the lives of Lydia and Chang. I love them!!

Thanks for a great read,
Becky from Canada

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Janae,
Glad to hear you're spreading the word. I've loved writing about this period and it's great to hear that others are becoming enthused.

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Becky,
What a fantastic response! It does an author's heart the world of good to hear that a reader gets so involved. Look out for a switch in direction next year - a prequel!

Karen said...

Yea I have the book , will need to start it tonight, I am looking forward to reading it as I enjoyed the first book

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Karen,
Happy reading!

Lea said...

Hi Kate,
I really like your books. And I want to know when "The Concubine's Secret" will be translated into german.

Lea

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Lea,

It's cool you like the books. Due to protracted negotiations with my German publisher over this third book, there is as yet no date set for its publication in German. I will post it up here when I have more info on that.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kate!! I have Just finished reading The Concubines Secret, and it have loved it with all my heart! Equally I loved the first book, the Russian Concubine. They are very personally close to me. I really hope that you will write a sequel to when Lydia and Chang are in Hong Kong, it is extremely hard to let go of these characters. I wish you all the best in your work! Thank you for the fantastic books!
Sincerely, Kristina.

Al said...

Hello! I just bought "The Girl from Junchow" yesterday at Penn Station in NYC and between a long train ride back to Boston and this morning's commute (and sneaking reading at my desk!) I finished. WOW. It's been a long time since I've become so attached to characters as I have to Lydia and Chang and even Popkov...can't wait to read the pre-quel...and maybe even more about Lydia's journey to Hong Kong :) I'll have to check out your other books to tide me over till then!!

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Kristina,
I hear what you're saying. The books are close to my own heart as well and I found it very hard to let Lydia go. Ideas are buzzing in my head for another sequel but nothing definite yet. At the moment I am deeply immersed in the prequel to TRC, the story of Valentina and Jens in the glamorous days of tsarist Russia - a change from the bleakness of the Stalinist era. It's a fascinating time. Imagine - Popkov as a 16 year old boy!

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Al,
I love to hear of Lydia taking over someone's life. That's what she did to me! Another sequel is on the cards but nothing settled yet, too busy dancing a mazurka in the Winter Palace.
By the way, beware of internet sellers marketing my books without informing the buyer that The Red Scarf is the American title for Under A Blood Red Sky and that The Girl From Junchow is the US title for The Concubine's Secret.

Knitcole22 said...

I just finished the book last night, and I just wanted to say that I thought it was fantastic. So many times I was like "What?!? Oh my GOD!" The girl who sits next to me at work thought I was mad, and I may have done a little bit of slacking while I was devouring it. :-D There is something so compelling about Lydia that you have to side with her, even if you don't necessarily agree with her exact actions. I can't wait to read more!

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Knitcole22,
'Compelling' is a great word for Lydia. She is indeed a force of nature. I love the idea of your neighbour at work thinking you'd gone mad. Sometimes I wonder quite how many bleary eyes I am responsible for in the morning!

kaalsam said...

I bought The Russian Concubine and The Concubines Secret in a two pack and read them one after the other in a few days. I loved them and I felt like I was right there in the story with Lydia and Chang. I can't wait for the prequel and I am just about to start Under a Blood Red Sky. But I am desperate to know more about Lydia and Chang in Hong Kong. Thank you for writing such wonderful books.

amanda said...

Dear Kate,

I came across The Russian Concubine by complete chance and absolutely loved it. I was completely blown away by Lydia and Chang and was so upset when I finished the book and they were apart! I then discovered there was a sequel yesterday and cannot wait for it to arrive. I NEED to know what happens to these two! Very much looking forward to the prequel aswell. Keep up the good work.

Amanda x

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Amanda,
Great to know you got so involved with Lydia and Chang. I loved writing about their relationship because they became so much a part of my life for two years. I miss them now, so though I have no immediate plans to pick up their story again, I wouldn't be surprised to wake one morning and find Lydia alive and kicking in my head again. Enjoy the sequel.

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Kaalsam,
You don't do things by halves, do you? Buying all my books together. It gives me great pleasure to think of someone sitting down and reading the Concubine books one after the other. They belong together and I was delighted when it was decided to put them out into WH Smiths in a single pack. I am just coming towards the end of writing the prequel - a very different Russian world. It's been quite an experience.

ira said...

I LOVE your book alot, both Russian Concubine and The Concubine's Secret and i had finished reading both. I REALLY REALLY hope that there's gonna be another book with the continuation story of Lydia and Chang An Lo. By the way, Under a Blood Red Sky is good too. I love it! I'm looking forward for any of your upcoming novels. =D

Gabriella said...

Hi Kate

I just read The Russian Concubine and the way you wrote it made me feel like I was actually living in the moment, which scared me at times, like when Lydia was kidnapped, haha. It is very rare that I feel this way when reading, actually its only happened 3times, and that says a lot because I love to read. I cannot wait to read about what happens to Lydia. Thank you for your beautiful writing.

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Ira,
Sorry this is a late reply but I've only just picked up your post. Thanks for your comments on the books. I am delighted that you want more of Lydia and though I am not planning it for my next book, I have loads of ideas for Lydia and Chang kicking around my head that will burst out sooner or later. So watch this space.

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Gabriella,
I'm pleased you enjoyed The Russian Concubine and that you were so drawn into China in 1928. It is always important to me in my books that the setting of the story is as vivid as the characters themselves. So it is very rewarding to hear that you became so involved. In the sequel (The Girl from Junchow in USA; The Concubine's Secret in UK) I continue Lydia's story in Russia which I loved writing about, as my grandmother came from St Petersburg. I am just finishing the prequel which will be published this year 2010, the story of Valentina and Jens in pre-Revolutionary St Petersburg, a world of glamour and decadence. Exciting stuff.

byalady said...

Dear Kate,

Just in case they turn "The Russian Concubine" into a movie I have a suggestion for an actor to play Chang An Lo… I don’t know if you have seen the previews for
“Ninja Assassin” but he happens to be in it, he goes by the name Rain or Rain-Ji hoon. Just a thought..

P.S. love your work

Anonymous said...

hi kate
i am so pleased to say that i saw youe book online and ordered it, i read it in one day..fantastic will read all your books from now on

Flor de María said...

I just read "The Russian Concubine" is a wonderful book and I can not wait to read "The Concubine´s Secret" I'm dying to know who's going to happen between Lydia and Chang when the book comes out in mexico?

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Byalady,
Thanks for the suggestion. I shall check him out. A film would definitely be nice.

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Anonymous 11 Feb,
Great to know you liked my book. Hope you enjoy the rest. Thanks for writing.

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Flor de Maria,
Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed The Russian Concubine in Mexico - did you read it in Spanish or English? The Spanish edition has a great cover. Lydia and Chang just don't want their story to end!

Cordula Roosa said...

Kate,
Just finished the Russian Concubine and ordered the Concubine's Secret and Under a Blood Red Sky online. Our characters come alive and Lydia has become like a friend. I am looking forward to follow her to Russia. When looking for your books I first got exited to find more titles, till I found out that two of your books have different titles in the states. Try to ensure, that the American's in future will use the UK title, more poignant titles, and I am sure, some people will end up with your books in double.
Cheers Cordula

Anonymous said...

A friend recommended The Russian Concubine to me and I absolutely fell in love! Then I read The Girl from Junchow and it just keeps getting better. I, like everyone else, have fallen in love with these characters! I cannot wait for the prequel and hope to one day revisit Chang and Lydia in Hong Kong! Thank you for these gifts!

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Cordula,
Only just picked up your post, sorry. As you said, the characters become friends and I miss them when they've gone - which is why I think I will return to them one day soon. I totally agree with you about the mix up of titles and fortunately the US and UK publishers agreed to my title THE JEWEL OF ST PETERSBURG and this week have agreed also to my new title for the next book - THE WHITE PEARL. Things are getting better!

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Anonymous 6 July 2010,
Thanks for your comments. Writing is a solitary occupation and it's great to have this kind of feedback - to know how people like yourself are responding to my books. Keep writing!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kate-
I just finished reading your prequel to the Russian Concubine, "the Jewel of St. Petersburg" and I thoroughly enjoyed it! It was the first book of yours that I have read and I fell in love with the depictions of imperial Russia and the enchanting city of St. Petersburg- I could truly visualize the city as actually 2 different ones, the poverty stricken world that is parallel to the glamourish, lavishness of the boyars. The two parallel worlds converging provided a great foundation for a good story. However, I was really engaged in the story between Valentina and Jens Friis. Having not read the other novels, I cannot imagine a truer love story than the one between Valentina and Jens b/c the experiences they shared captivated me. I want to note that I'm afraid of reading the following novels because I really want to know if Jens Friis lives! If the reality of Valentina and Jens' situation weren't so, I wish that you had focused on Valentina and Jens' life and that the two could have been together w/ their daughter! But i guess that would leave no room for conflict as the resolution would be solved (a happy ending).

:) said...

I agree with the previous comment, i can't imagine Valentina and Jens not together! I've only read 'The Jewel of St Petersburg' so I’m eager to see how the story progresses with Lydia as the main character yet I don't want her parents to split up!
But I just want to say, I thoroughly enjoyed the narrative in the prequel; I found it hard to put down and was constantly surprised about some of the events that occurred! I would never have guessed some of the way things turned out - a sign of a great book! I hope you continue to write more about the Ivanova family, so I can get to know them more!! As crazy as this might seem, when reading the novel I really wanted to live in pre revolution Russia!
Hope to read your next novels soon!
xxx

Rachel said...

I cannot tell you how many times I have read both The Russian Concubine and The Girl from Junchow. I love to re-read my favorites and everytime I pick this up my husband asks me "Didn't you just read that?" I find myself skipping through to my favorite parts with Chang and Lydia.
People like Chang and Lydia deserve happy endings, but unfortunately a story like theirs probably would not have ended as such. That's why novels are so wonderful, they can give you a world that that you see fit for those involoved.
Cannot wait to read about them again Kate! I am almost positive you cannot abandon them!

Sean Cody said...

Hi Lea, It's cool you like the books. Due to protracted negotiations with my German publisher over this third book, there is as yet no date set for its publication in German. I will post it up here when I have more info on that.

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