THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME...
Well, I figured I would post this month right at the start as I think it's going to be a hectic month. I am away to do events in Filey and Whitby tomorrow, and then on the 8th I am off to New York for a week. If you didn't catch it on the last post, there's a new American website to promote the September release of A Quiet Belief In Angels (at http://www.quietbeliefinangels.com/).
Initially I was going to NY for Thrillerfest, but the trip has been extended to take in some promotional work, and also set up things for the eight city US tour in October (which will encompass Washington DC, New York, Chicago, Indianapolis, Nashville, Phoenix, Atlanta and Boston). As far as I understand that trip will take in a range of bookstores, and also some radio and TV stuff. Besides that we have Reading and Harrogate and a number of other venues over the summer, so I don't think I'm going to be bored for lack of action!
I have just returned from a four-day trip to Paris. I was esconced in the bar of one of the oldest and most beautiful hotels in Paris, and there I met with journalists from Paris Match, le Figaro, Balthazar, L'Optimum, Elle, GQ and others. I also did a couple of bookstores - L'Arbre des Lettres and Livre Sterling. It was ironic, but when I went to Paris earlier in the year to meet with Olivier Dahan I was strolling around the Champs Elysees, wandering down backstreets and generally staying out of trouble, and I came across this bookstore. Outside they had a table loaded with copies of 'Seul Le Silence' (the French AQBIA), and I went inside and told them I was the author. I asked if they would like me to sign the books for them. Between us we managed to determine that I was not a complete lunatic, and Valerie - the lady who worked there - let me sign all the books. So however many weeks later my publisher takes me to do a bookstore event, and it's the same place! Anyway, Livre Sterling is owned by Emanuel, and has been run from the same location for 28 years. The reception there was tremendous. They brought a huge silver bowl full of ice into the store. They parked a half dozen bottles of wine in it. They had cheeseboards, huge slabs of pate, fresh ham, fresh bread, and people would come from the street, they would eat, drink, talk about books, and then Emanuel and Valerie would introduce them to me, I would talk to them for a while, and then they would buy one or two or three of my books and I would sign them. And this went on for the better part of three hours! Now, I don't think you'll have any diagreement with me if I suggest that this is the way that booksigning events should be run.
'Seul Le Silence' has done very well in France, and they are releasing 'A Quiet Vendetta' there in September (called, simply, 'Vendetta'), and the interviews that I did were very positive. The journalists I had met had read both books, and we very informed about me. It was refreshing to be received in such a way. As I have long said, in England you tell people you are a writer (published or unpublished, it doesn't matter), and the feeling you get is that they think you're doing this because you can't get a proper job. In France it is completely different. They consider it is something of value, and that anyone engaged in the field of the arts deserves a place at the dinner table.
I also made two new friends while I was out there. Firstly, Philippe Aronson, the translator assigned to me for the trip, a man of Franco-American parentage who lives in Paris with his French wife. He is a very charming and funny guy, great company, and I couldn't have asked for a better translator.
Secondly, I met Jenny Macquart. Jenny and I had already been in communication through facebook etc. She is a Professor of Music, a Theatre Director and a composer from Strasbourg. With her fiance, Jerome, she also performs live in the cafes and clubs of Paris and Strasbourg. She is a wonderful musician, and a very talented composer. A while ago she sent me a piece of music she had composed after having read 'Seul Le Silence'. Haunting, evocative, utterly spellbinding, I took it down to London and played it for the collected publishing staff at Orion and they were similarly enchanted. She was great company for the little while we spent together, and I hope that we shall have a chance to meet again. She has recently taken on significantly greater roles at her college and with a theatre group for teenagers, and wish her the very greatest success with her projects.
And so to America...
America is a land untapped and uncharted for me. The release of 'A Quiet Belief In Angels' in September is a landmark for us. It has always been my contention that as far as English authors in America is concerned, it goes one of two ways. Either you secure an American publishing deal right away, or you battle and slog for however many years, and then finally get somewhere. Well it has been the latter for me. It seems that I have spent as long trying to get published in the US as I did trying to get published in the UK right at the beginning. Nevertheless, the initial response to 'A Quiet Belief In Angels' - certainly from other authors in the US, has been tremendous. We also received our first 'official' US literary review last night, as follows:
It is 1939 in a tiny Georgia farming town. Joseph Vaughan, a bright, thoughtful 12-year-old boy, loses his father. That death is followed by a series of horrific murders of very young girls that casts a pall of fear over the town. Joseph organizes his friends into the Guardians, but the murders continue, and Joseph comes to believe — presciently — that they will haunt his entire life. Already a best-seller in England with editions in many foreign languages, this is an unlikely and, in many ways, admirable book. Author Ellory is English, but his evocation of life in the deep South is richly drawn and deeply detailed. His characters are well developed, and portions of the book ably mimic great southern writers, allowing readers to savor both the words and the images they offer. When Joseph flees home and moves to Brooklyn to be a writer, the author changes voice to portray an edgy, exciting, clamorous new world. Although it occasionally drifts into over-the-top melodrama, the novel presents an appealing mix of murder, madness, conscience, lost love, and redemption.
Thomas Gaughan Booklist - Trade Publication for The American Library
We are pleased with the response, and we are keeping our fingers crossed that the Americans will take to it the way the English and the French (and a few other countries) have.
Up-to-date news on future books etc. I completed both 'The Darkest River' and 'The Saints of New York' recently and sent them to my editor and my agent. After having read them, and following a short discussion, we came to the unanimous conclusion that we will publish 'The Saints of New York' in 2010. 'The Darkest River' may or may not be published at some later date...we shall see.
I am currently working on a new book with the working title 'Bad Signs', and the reason for the title comes from the idea that if one is 'born under a bad star' then one carries a bad sign all of one's life. I will say nothing more about it for now, save that it deals with a mid-1960s West Coast killing spree...
Good to hear from you, as always. Keep the letters and e-mails coming, and - as you know - I will answer them personally (always), and as rapidly as I can! If you write and you don't get a response immediately then I am away somewhere and will reply as soon as I get home.
It makes a great difference to hear from you personally, and it is greatly appreciated.
Until we speak again, which I hope won't be too long away!
Best wishes, as always,