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!