Less than three weeks to go. A date for your diaries! February 16 - publication day of THE WHITE PEARL in the UK by Little Brown. I am impatient now to see that gorgeous cover casting its green shadow over the bookshelves.
The last couple of weeks I have been busy doing PR for magazines, websites, book forums etc - one of the joys of being an author in the digital age - and I am always interested to see what questions they come up with. Of course there are the usual stock-in-trade ones such as: 'What inspired you?', 'Why Malaya?', 'What research did you do?' and 'What's your favourite book/author?' These I answer with grace and honesty and even try to insert a degree of variation here and there, to entertain myself as well as my reader.
But every now and again, a curve-ball comes winging out of the blue and smacks me right on the head. It was an Australian magazine that tossed out this question: 'What is the worst criticism you have received as an author?'
A real sneaky one. My secret lies hidden away in the darkest recess of a drawer, cowering from prying eyes. It's a newspaper cutting from The Times, UK. But today, prompted by that pushy Australian, I will dust it off for you, hide my blushes and reveal all. It is a review written about my first book, THE RUSSIAN CONCUBINE.
"If books were food," sniped the reviewer, "this would be a Mars bar."
Well, we all know that a Mars bar is not proper food and that if you devour too much of it, it will make you sick. Needless to say, I was mortified.
But as the book went on to hit the New York Times Bestseller list and to sell into 20 languages across the globe, I reckon the world must be mighty fond of Mars bars. I wait with narrowed eyes to read what that reviewer has in her arsenal for THE WHITE PEARL.
In the meantime, get ready for my new-look all-singing website which is cooking up nicely in preparation for Publication Day on 16 February. It might even tell you who my favourite author is!