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Saturday, March 27, 2010

IF I HAD TEN DAYS IN A WEEK AND SEVEN WEEKS IN A MONTH, THERE'D STILL BE TOO LITTLE TIME...

Seems merely a few days since I last posted a blog, and with my determination to write at least once a month, I am finding myself having to sit down and just do it amidst all the other things that have to be done ‘yesterday, if not the day before…’. Such is the nature of things at the moment.

Well, since we last spoke I have been to Dubai. Dubai was remarkable. The Emirates International Literary Festival held right there in Festival City. A great hotel, the most amazing events, sharing events with the likes of Mark Billingham, Jeffrey Deaver, and my great friend Paul Blezard. Greg and Kate Mosse were there as well, and though we speak often and see one another as frequently as we can, it’s always a real pleasure to spend some time with them. One of the highlights for me was a trip with Mark out to the Indian High School. This is the largest school in the Gulf, catering for over nine thousand students. We were met by several of the teachers and governors, and the lady who had organised the event began by explaining that the IHS exam period had just ended, and thus the vast majority of students were not in school. ‘Therefore,’ she went on to say, ‘I have to apologise sincerely as we only have four hundred and fifty students for you to talk to.’ Mark and I – used to talking to thirty or forty students in an English school - were suitably impressed. ‘Okay,’ we said. ‘Four hundred and fifty is just fine’. And thus we were escorted through to the main hall, and there – in an arena that could seat over two and a half thousand people – we were greeted with a standing ovation from four hundred and fifty students and about a hundred parents and teachers, presented with bouquets, and introduced by the organiser of the event while a slide show of our book covers was played on a vast screen behind the stage.

We spoke for an hour or so, we answered questions provided by the students, and – as I have always maintained – children invariably ask questions that are so much more demanding than adults. Each child, when presented with the roving microphone, began the question with ‘Good morning Sir, and thank you for your kind attendance here…’ or something of that nature. Quite, quite remarkable. The children were happy. They wanted to learn. They wanted to know everything we could tell them about reading and writing and travelling, and who we were and what we did, and how our days began and ended. It was an enlightening and sobering experience. The largest school in the Gulf. Nine thousand, two hundred students. No drugs, no crime, no bullying…nothing but a vigorous and enthusiastic desire to learn.

At the end of the event, after having signed books for an hour or more, I was presented with a drawing, executed by the Head of the Art Department himself. It was a picture of me on the stage, beautifully done, and at the bottom it read, ‘Token of love from students and staff of IHS – DXB’, and then signed and dated by the artist. I am having it framed for my study wall.

Aside from this wonderful experience, there was the desert trip, organised by Emirates, the falconry exhibition, the camel rides, the Sufi dancers at a Bedouin encampment where we ate the most remarkable food, the wonderful hospitality of Isobel, Vivienne, Georgina and Maryann – the organisers and administrators of the festival itself, and on the final evening we were all driven out in buses to the home of Maurice Flanagan, Executive Vice-Chairman of the Emirates Group, and here – in the stunning surroundings of his garden – he hosted a ‘Thank you’ dinner for all the authors who had attended the festival. Here I shared some time with Jacqueline Wilson, Roger McGough, Martin Amis, Mark Billingham, Jeffrey Deaver, Kate Mosse, Kate Adie, Joe Abercrombie, Tim Butcher, Garth Nix, Alexander McCall Smith, Gervase Phinn, Michelle Paver, Darren Shan, Francis Wheen, Yann Martel and a host of other world-renowned and celebrated authors, biographers, playwrights, poets and social commentators.

It was a truly remarkable event, and one I will remember for the rest of my life.

And then I came home! I was home for a few days, and then I had to fly out to Amsterdam for a couple of days. The first book published by De Fontein in Holland (‘A Quiet Belief In Angels’) was successful, voted ‘Best Thriller of 2009’ by one of their leading newspapers, Volksrant. Now they have just published ‘A Quiet Vendetta’ and this is also selling well. Amsterdam is a beautiful city, similarly old and charming in many places – much like Paris, but with canals. I arrived at about 11.00am on the first morning, did half a dozen newspaper and magazine interviews in the Hotel Ambassade (renowned for its hospitality for authors, and possessive of a hotel library in which there is a signed copy of one book by every author that has ever stayed there…quite a sight to behold!), and then in the evening there was a celebratory dinner in one of Amsterdam’s finest Italian restaurants (‘a ‘Vendetta’ themed dinner, you see…how could we have eaten anything but Italian food?), and here I spent a couple of hours in the company of the wonderful people from De Fontein, the Dutch publisher, and some of the key sellers and buyers in the book industry. I have to say a huge thank you to Susan, Catrien and Genevieve for organising everything, and for making the brief trip to Holland so enjoyable and productive. The following day there were more interviews, more photographers, and then a flight home in the late afternoon.

I have now posted many of the events I will be doing later in the year on the website calendar. There are three trips to France – St. Malo, Villeneuve lez Avignon and Montpellier. I will be doing Swanwick for four days, also the Lincoln Book Festival, and though I’m not doing any panels at Harrogate I will be there regardless. I am out to New York in July, and I’ll be travelling to Connecticut and Massachusetts as far as I know. San Francisco is in October, but I have just agreed to do the Melbourne Literary Festival in September, and then a further week of touring in Australia. This has not been confirmed solidly, but it looks likely. There is also a strong possibility of a Canadian tour before the year is out, and as soon as I have any more details I’ll get them posted on the site. Additionally, I will be in Derby, Steyning, Hampton in Middlesex, Lichfield and Lord knows where else.

On the music front, my bass player and I have met a couple of times, and we keep trying to nail the drummer down to the punishing rehearsal schedule we intend to maintain. But, as I always say, ‘You gotta have a big heart and a strong backbone to play with kids like us’. I’ll keep you posted on that front as well.

As far as new books are concerned, we have finally found the right image for the cover of ‘Saints of New York’ and we are releasing that on September 15th. ‘Bad Signs’ is done, and will be out in June 2011. I am currently writing the book for 2012, untitled as yet, and beyond that I have news that this book will be the first of a further four that I have now been contracted to write. Therefore, there will be books for 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. Great news. I am toying with the idea of writing the last three as a trilogy. A vast crime epic spanning three generations of the same family perhaps. We shall see. That is quite a way away, and I have no pressure to decide at the moment. If nothing else, I have a tendency to change my mind rather quickly about what I shall write next!

So there we have it. A brief synopsis of where I have been and what I have been doing. I really did intend to post every week, but it just doesn’t happen, and then we reach the end of the month and I have to try and cram everything into one blog.

Regardless, it has been a busy month, and the way the rest of the year is looking, well I think it’s going to get busier. Oh, and ‘Vendetta’ was shortlisted for the Le Point European Crime Novel of the Year, and it came second! Seems always to be the way of things, n’est ce pas?

Until we speak again, all my very best wishes, and stay in touch through the website, okay?

Roger.

11 comments:

vincent said...

Hello, dear Roger!
How good is it to read so many good news in a blog. I'm looking forward to reading all the novels you've already written and those you will write.
Here in France, you're getting more and more famous and many bloggers advise readers to read your novels. You deserve to be successful.
In 2 weeks now, I'm going to New York for a week. I'll sure be thinking about you and your books.

Best wishes. Vincent.

R J Ellory said...

Vincent,
I have a love affair with France! It is true! I am coming to three different festivals in France this year: Etonnants-Voyageur in St. Malo in May, Frontignan in Montpellier in June, and Villeneuve lez Avignon in October. I am also going back to New York in July, and am looking forward to it very much! Good to hear from you my friend. I hope all is well.

John Quirk said...

Roger, I'm tired just reading that blog. Sounds like you had a fantastic time. And great news with the contract - a crime trilogy? That'll be going on my list of wanted presents to pass to MrsQ... :-)

R J Ellory said...

Hey John,
Good to hear from you. Well, if I do write the trilogy, the first one wouldn't be published until 2013, so don't hold your breath! Three more stand-alone books are on their way before then.
Hope all's well with you and yours.
Roger.

慧珊志正 said...

TAHNKS FOR YOUR SHARING~~~VERY NICE.................................................

R J Ellory said...

You're very welcome!

martin said...

Hi Roger,

I find it really interesting to hear what’s happening to you via your blog. It must be great going to all these exotic places, and meeting all these great authors, and finding yourself published all over the world, and hearing from lots of people from as far away as Japan, I think it was. I’m very much looking forward to reading ‘Saints of New York’ in the autumn, and more particularly Bad Signs next year as I’ve read it set in a small American town similar to AQBOA. This is where I think you’re at your best. I’m not too sure about you writing a trilogy about an American crime family. I have to admit I usually steer clear of authors who write books containing the same characters, such as Inspector Grace by Peter James, and so on. I prefer stand alone books, and am also the same when writing. However, as it’s you, I’m open to persuasion. Mind you I have to admit it’s only as recent as in the last couple of years that I’ve started to read women writers. I have to say I’m impressed especially by authors such as Kate Mosse, Kate Morton, Kate Atkinson, Val McDermid and so on. So I’m probably wrong on that score.
As an aspiring writer, I have a few questions for you, that other people might be interested in knowing the answers to as well.
1. Do you ever feel frustrated and fed by all the appearances and places you have to visit, when you could be writing and being with your family, or do you enjoy all aspects of being an author?
2. Do you ever get nervous when having to speak in front of an audience? If so how do you cope with it?
3. How do you react to criticism? Either from the public or from publishers, agents , editors. i.e if there’s a particular scene that they want cut out, but you want left in, how strongly would you argue your case? Or if they don’t like a book, would it make you write differently.
4. Do you have complete control over what you write. What I’m asking is, do you have to target a particular audience when you’re writing, as set out by your publisher? I remember a couple of years back when you wanted a book out earlier, but it was put back by your publisher?
5. What do you think of contemporary writers. Ken Follett, who I rate very highly was very scathing on Hilary Mantel the recent Booker prize winner. I have started reading a few of these, ie William Boyd, Sebastian Barry and others, and have found them very good, and not all as difficult to read as I imagined.
6. I guess you’ve met lots of writers now in your time, even some of the greats and i just wondered what sort of people they are? I know some of them in the past have a reputation for being difficult or having problems. Alistair MacLean and Ian Fleming had drink problems for instance, Virginia Woolf had mental problems and committed suicide. I’ve heard JD Salinger was a bit of a recluse and so on.
7. Have you ever thought about writing in another genre besides American crime fiction? I was thinking of your 22 unpublished novels. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see how they do today. Not that I’m saying you should give up your present genre as you do it so well.
8. Is there any more news about the filming of AQBIA?

I saw you are author of the month on the website I Love Reading. It’s great to see they have extracts of all your books on there. Pity the interview they have with you is about five years old.

Best wishes as always
Martin.

martin said...

Hi Roger,
I forgot another question.
What do you think of E Readers. Will they mean the death of the printed word, or the saviour of the publishing industry?

Cheers
Martin

R J Ellory said...

Martin,
I am away for two days at the York Festival of Writing, and I am going to answer all your questions when I get back. What I'll do (as it's impractical to answer them as a blog reply in this window) is post both your questions and my answers as a new blog entry. Give me a day or two after the weekend, and I'll get to it! Meanwhile, great to hear from you.
Best, as always,
Roger.

martin said...

Hi Roger,

Thanks for that. I'll be very interested in what you have to say. Hopefully it will be a great insight for all us aspiring writers, to know what's involved once you become a published author.

Cheers
martin

jktando said...

I am currently reading 'Saints of New York' and found a grammatical error. I'm reading it on an e-reader so I'm not sure what page it would be in a physical book. I'm at the second page of chapter 68 and it reads, '...some poor schmuck who's poor wife...' I'm wondering if this is an error from the download because I have come across problems like this with other books. I have not come across any grammatical errors while reading any of your books, which is why the above error caught me by surprise. Beside the one word in the sentence, I am thoroughly enjoying this book and have enjoyed reading others of yours as well.