Thursday, 11 November 2010

Publication Day

The Jewel of St Petersburg - today is publication day in the UK. A day of excitement and jangling nerves. A day for cruising the bookshops. Interviews, book-signing, photographs, talks - it's all part of the process of launching a new book. And my publisher, Little, Brown/Sphere, does it with style.

After a solid year of hard work - to be honest, in this case more than a year because I ran wickedly over deadline - it gives me a huge sense of satisfaction to see the book out there on the shelves in all its Russian glory. (On the cover, that's the white marble Jordan staircase from inside the Winter Palace in St Petersburg.)

I have an urge to hug it and pet it when I see its swathe of red on the display tables. But at the same time publication also brings a sense of closure. I can put it behind me and move on - which feels a bit like betrayal, abandoning one child and taking off with another.

I have been asked which of my books I like best and I know my answer will always be the same:- whichever one I'm writing at the moment. I fall in love with my characters and can't imagine my life without them - until the next lot come along. Such is the fickle nature of an author.

But it is also why I enjoyed writing a sequel to The Russian Concubine so much and now this prequel set in the glamorous tsarist times. It meant I could prolong my relationship with Valentina and Lydia and explore what it was that made them the people they became in the later books, as well as indulging once more my passion for Russia.

A flash of red dress and a flick of a page carry me straight back into that turbulent world, so that I have to struggle to detach my mind and immerse myself in the next book which is set in the tumult of Malaya 1941. But I have secret plans to return to Russia - at least one final time. Just don't tell my publisher yet!


Carolyn said...

I've read all your books and have been knocked out by each one, but The Jewel of St Petersburg is the best so far. It's so touching and so exciting, yet has the most incredible love story. I love the way you contrast the parallel lives of your characters and the way they overlap and impact on each other. I would love another book continuing Lydia and Chang's story, but in the meantime I can't wait to get my hands on your 'The White Pearl' as soon as it comes out next year.

Bec said...

I've been waiting for a blog update! Congrats on publishing day in the UK. I think we're spoiled over here, getting to read it first :) Not that I'm complaining! Very excited to read what you're coming up with next. Thanks Kate!

Anonymous said...

Hurray! I was in the bookshop here in Geneva because I needed something new to read, and there, all of a sudden, I saw "The Jewel of St Petersburg" glowing towards me on the shelf! Well, the choice of book was not very hard to make after that.

If anything, the book made me feel miserable and sad. Not because I didn't like it or the beautiful way it was written (as I read it in one day), but because it was tragic to know what would happen to Valentina and Jens later. I especially felt bad about Valentina's destiny in China, being poor and having lost the love of her life forever.

Please let Lydia and Chang meet a better future together!

However, I am curious to know what your personal view is on communism as it unfurled in Russia and China. The revolutions and the destruction was terrible, but I get a sense that you still sympathize with the core idea of the an egalitarian society where one small elite does not live in luxury while the rest is starving.

Thanks for another wonderful story.

Golden Girl

Anonymous said...

Obs. Spoiler??? Please edit my previous comment if necessary.

Golden Girl

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Carolyn,
One of the aims of any author is for each book to become a stronger and more complex statement - as well as a darn good story. So I'm pleased you feel that JEWEL is the best yet! Thanks.

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Bec,
Forgive my tardiness on my blog! There are times when I am so involved in the story I'm writing that I find it hard to make space in my head for other things. But I shall try to be more diligent in future, I promise, as I love chatting with my readers and learning what it is about my books that gets them excited. I am always grateful to my US readers for giving me that first vocal response to a new novel - I get a great kick out of it.

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Golden Girl,
I love your description of the JEWEL cover as 'glowing' - that is such a great word for it. I agree with you about the added poignancy of the book if someone has read The Russian Concubine already - I was acutely aware of it as I wrote Valentina's story. All her hopes and expectations become even more intense when you know what is going to happen to her, but I think it makes it a more powerful book because of that.
As for my own personal views on the social structure of the time, you are right. I do believe in equality of opportunity to choose in life. But when I write from a communist character's point of view, I see the whole world through his/her eyes and with his/her mind. Yet when I write from an elite character's point of view I find I am able to do the same, seeing the revolutionaries as destructive and despicable. It is one of the luxuries of being an author!

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi again Golden Girl,
No editing on this blog! As long as it's printable, it stays up there.

Anonymous said...

Hello Kate! Your novel "the Jewel of St. Petersburg" was truly awesome- I couldn't put it down! I was wondering if you ever had or currently have any hopes for translating any of your novels, particularly this series that follows the Ivanova family, into a movie! There have been very few czarist Russian movies that have hit it big time in Hollywood other than the Anastasia movies! I think it would be such an amazing movie trilogy or saga or whatever number it is for your novels- the scenes would be breathtaking! Don't you agree? Although I loved your books, I really think a movie would bring your characters to life even more than they already are in my mind!

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Anonymous 3 Dec,
I would LOVE them to be made into a film/films. Wouldn't it be fabulous to work out who should play what part? But sadly as yet no offers forthcoming, so you'll have to make do with the images in your head, I'm afraid, until Steven Spielberg steps forward! Pleased to hear you enjoyed the book. I'm working hard to keep 'em coming.

Rosienne Farrugia said...

Hi Kate, A few days ago I was at a bookshop here in Malta choosing books for my kids, with no intention to buy one for myself when the stunning cover of The Jewel of St Petersburg caught my attention. I couldn't not buy it and haven't stopped reading it since then. I just finished it now - a truly passionate and beautifully written love story. I wanted to find out more about you and your books and was so excited to find out that there are another two books about Valentina's life. I'm so looking forward to find out what happens next to Valentina and Lydia!!! Thanks so much for sharing your immense talent! And, in a way, I feel lucky to have discovered your books through The Jewel of St Petersburg ... Good luck with your writing of The White Pearl and Merry Xmas:) Regards, Rosienne

- sis * said...

Hello Kate!
I'm a portuguese fan of your work! I'm sorry for my bad English...
I just want to say I really loved "The Russian Concubine". It is the only book of yours that has a portuguese version. Well, as the book is amazing and it has a sort of an open end, I wanted to read the others! I couldn't find "The Jewel of St Petersburg" and "The Concubine's secret" here in Portugal. I don't live in Lisbon, and it makes things more complicated! Luckily, I went to London for a 4 days vacations and I finally found the books at the airport! When I saw it on the shelf I really wanted to cry, seriously!
Now I have the books. Although two of them are in english, I'm going to do my best to understand it and to enjoy Lydia and Chang An Lo's adventures.
I hope "White Pearl" will have a portuguese version... But I'm going to read it anyway, in portuguese or not.
Your book is incredible, congratulations! My best friends and I totally fell in love with Chang and we always say he is much better than vampires or pop music singers. But that's teen girls' thoughts - not very important.
We are looking foward to read "White Pearl" and we really hope it will be on sale in portugal. Wish us luck!
I'm not going to continue to bother you... Thank you very much for your incredible books, and for your time, of course!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Rosienne,
I love to hear of readers falling in love with the cover and then getting swept away by the story. It's exactly what a writer dreams of. I find it interesting to imagine the reaction of readers who come across JEWEL first - because it must be quite different from that of people who have read the other books already. I hope you enjoy the continuation of the story. Thanks for your generous comments - and have a great Christmas in Malta, a beautiful island with a dramatic history.

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Sara,
When my novels are translated into other languages I always wonder how faithfully the translation keeps to the original English version and whether it captures the soul of the book, so I am delighted to hear that you and your friends enjoyed The Russian Concubine in Portuguese. I have a copy of it in Portuguese on the shelf in my study. It is wonderful how readily the gap between countries can be bridged by a story about a young girl's love and courage. As yet the other books have not been translated into Portuguese, so I wish you luck with reading the English edition - I'm sure you will manage it as your English is excellent. Thanks for getting in touch. Merry Christmas to you.

Karen said...

Happy New Year Kate, hope it's a healthy and productive year to come for you

Anonymous said...

Hi Kate,

I loved that you wrote a bit about the two characters from Red Scarf in Jewel of St. Petersburg. I was quite proud of myself for noticing this! I look forward to reading your next book.


Kate Furnivall said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kate Furnivall said...

Hey, well done, Catherine, for spotting Sophia and Anna ... and Anna's father ... in JEWEL. When I was planning the book I realised that its time frame overlapped with RED SCARF, so I just had to mix them together. The scene in JEWEL when Arkin rides out to the priest's house was written with the sole purpose of introducing Sophia as a young girl - I couldn't resist it! Hope you enjoy THE WHITE PEARL later this year.

Rich said...

Hi Kate,
Best So Far!!! Great fiance and I have both read it and think its the best of the trilogy. Is there a boxset coming out soon? as they would make a perfect gift set.
Good luck with the new book...and deadlines!

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Rich,

I love the idea of a boxed set almost as much as I love the idea of a film of the book - but as yet neither have materialised! Every author aims to improve with each new book and build on what you learn from the writing of previous ones, so it's great to hear people saying that JEWEL is the best so far. I just have to wrestle PEARL into submission and then we'll see if you think THAT one is the best so far!

Tania Ho said...

Brought three books today by yourself The Jewel of St Petersburg, The Russsian Concubine, Under a Blood Red Sky. I have just started the Jewel of St Petersburg and have had trouble putting it down I am nearly half way through it! I love it, very interesting can't wait to start the other two, kept writing.