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Monday, October 12, 2009

ON THE ROAD...

Well, here we are. Monday morning, the 12th of October. A little before 6.00am and I am leaving Nashville. I have a connection in Dallas Forth Worth, Texas, and then a flight to Atlanta, Georgia where I will be doing an event at Borders on Peachtree Road NE at 7.00pm.
Last night I figured it out - all the distances between the places I am visiting. It came to a little over 12,000 miles. That's in ten or eleven days. Having just completed a 6000-mile round trip of Belgium and France it adds up somewhat! 18,000 miles in a month, and all to meet readers, booksellers, to talk about writing and other things of common interest like music and food and good wine and friends.
I want to say a huge thank you to Barbie Chadwick for being my host here in Nashville. I want to express my gratitude to the Southern Festival of Books, and Humanities Tennessee for inviting me, for their wonderful reception and kindness, and I really hope I can come back sometime soon. I also want to say thanks to Mary Ann Nichols. Mary Ann lives here in Tennessee; she's a good friend of Jack's (my publicist), and she gave up her afternoon yesterday to have some lunch with me, to talk about Nashville, about Tennessee and Mississippi, to tell some tales and recount some anecdotes. It was a wonderful afternoon, and I know she had many other things she should have been doing, but she gave me her afternoon and I really, really appreciated it. People like Mary Ann are where that famous reputation for famous Southern hospitality came from.
It's times like these - sat in a hotel somewhere on the other side of the world, where I take a moment to look at where I came from (not just Birmingham...you know what I mean, right?), and I consider the four and a half million words of unpublished handwritten manuscripts in my loft, the hundreds of rejection letters, the years of trying and trying and trying, the sheer cost (something in the region of £12,000) of what I spent on photocopying and postage through those years, and all to be told 'Thanks, but no thanks'.
At the event yesterday I explained the philosophy back of my persistence, something that was expressed very clearly in a quote from Disraeli. 'Success is entirely dependent upon constancy of purpose'. Now, I am nowhere near achieving the level of success I want to - not at all. I am a wee baby as far as the American bookbuying and reading public are concerned, but I have made a start. I am here. I am going to make this 12,000 mile trip around the East Coast and I am going to make as many friends as I can and try and convince as many people as possible to give 'A Quiet Belief In Angels' a go. Okay, it's written by an Englishman, but - if yesterday's reception and welcome is anything to go by - American readers are the same as British and Irish and French and Belgian readers. They just want a good story. They just want to know that the author did his damnedest to write as good a book as he could, and I think it's safe to say that I did that.
So off I go. I have a cab arriving imminently. I'm gone from Nashville and on the way to Atlanta, Georgia. Not the first time I've been to Georgia. I was there for a week with Channel 4 in 2007. That was a hell of an experience. Absolutely unforgettable.
Oh, one final thank you to Jack and Aaron and Peter and Linda and Veda and everyone at Overlook. I wouldn't be here without you, and I think you know how much this means to me.
Best wishes, and speak to you from Georgia.
Roger.

5 comments:

The Shed said...

To all those who have not yet read A Quiet Belief In Angels. I first heard of this book by browsing the internet whilst on deployment in the Gulf. To be honest I wanted just an easy good read. I stumbled on this book and read the synopsis. My initial thoughts? Who in their sick mind would write a fictional book about a child serial killer! Many reviews persuaded me that this was a beautifully written book and so I took the risk with an open mind.

From the outset, this book reads like a journey story. You know from the first paragraph that this is a story that will span a lifetime and it will demand your absolute attention or you will miss the point. I will not go into major detail but it is set in a quiet town in deep south USA and is narrated by Joseph Vaughan who, at every corner turned, has his innocence strangled by raw violence, loss, and tragedy. The overwhelming theme here is that Vaughan is, it seems, born with an unhindered hope, faith, ambition, realism that embarrases those who are fully grown, shows them up for their impotence to do anything proactive and it is for this that he is punished both, ultimately by his community and also the unknown criminal who is murdering children.

A Queit Believe in Angels reads with, rhythm, colour, smells, images that both repell and draw you in as if you have somehow experienced what Joesph has experienced. My own personal journey with this book brought about a re-look at how I felt when two girls had been murdered near my home town of Cambridge, the helplessness, the uselessness to do anything except watch and see what turns up.

A Quiet Belief In Angels is about a very difficult subject that most people do not really want to think about. If they are honest, they are worried that it will show just how helpless and useless we feel in protecting our own children. It shows how difficult we find it to grieve for children when they leave us before their time. It is a book which forces us to turn our faces but does it responsibly, delicately, nuturingly. Most of all, in this world wide culture of fear, stark violence and helplessness, it helps us see there is something alternative to either lying down and playing dead or the other extreme of shoot first and ask questions later. Buy this book and after you've read it, give it to someone else. It's truly too important to ignore.

Brian said...

The Shed, Great Post.

Russell said...

Holy crap, Roger - £12,000 on copying and postage?? Hats off to you (again). And best wishes on your epic journey!

Matt Hicks said...

£12000? There ought to be some pay back from that don't you think. Glad it's all coming together for you Roger!

R J Ellory said...

I am in Atlanta now. I did an interview on-line this morning for a newspaper in Cincinnati, and the interviewer asked me about readers and booklovers...and what could I say? I told him that they were the best people in the world. Posts like these - the support and encouragement that comes with them - are remarkable, and truly, truly appreciated. I am flying to Miami today to meet some Floridians, and see what they make of the book! Thanks Matt, Brian, Russell - you guys are great, and I am so grateful for your support. This is a strange business, to say the least, and it's messages like these that make the whole thing worthwhile!