Wednesday, January 31, 2007

De fluwelen bijl

Any Dutch speakers reading? Then you may be interested in the Dutch edition of A Gentle Axe. And you may be able to tell me what they're saying about it. I did spot a reference to De Dante-club van Matthew Pearl. I'd love to know what they're saying.

Staring me in the face.

On my way to the day job, walking from Tottenham Court Road station to Soho Square, I have to pass the Waterstones on Oxford St.

I used to find going into bookshops - well, the big chains at least - a very depressing experience. And even just looking into them was fraught with envy and other bitter feelings. But now I find I'm one of the bastards I used to hate. One of the bastards with a book not only published, but also displayed in a prominent position.

As I pass the big wide open entrance I can glance in and see the wall of racks, with the new titles, the bestsellers, the staff favourites, etc. There under the 'new fiction' heading, with a second placard announcing 'new talent', are two piles of A Gentle Axe, cover out. They're giving £3 off, I see.

I dunno. Somehow it doesn't seem real. Maybe it isn't. I'm feeling more and more like I'm wired up to the matrix.

Another early review.

This one appeared originally in the Birmingham Post and Mail, though I found it reproduced here. I wasn't googling, honest. Well, okay, I was.

It's by Mike Ripley. Very brief, just a couple of paras in a round-up (I'm the second book mentioned).

The matrix doing its work again?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

World scoop.

The world's first review of A Gentle Axe is now up on Crimeficreader's 'It's a Crime' website.

You can also read an interview with R.N.Morris there too. That's me, by the way.

I'm also interviewed on Jennifer Prado's blog.

My thanks to both Crimeficreader and Jennifer.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Another great Macmillan party.

Last night was a sad-happy night. It was the party in honour of Mike Barnard's retirement, Mike being the founding godfather of Macmillan New Writing. Mike ascended even higher in my estimation, when after giving a very warm and witty speech, he joined the live band, strung a guitar over his shoulder and took the lead vocals.

Is there anything that man can't do?

I'm too hungover, I'm afraid, to blog coherently about it, so I will direct you to Matt Curran's blog. Matt's a fellow MNW-er, the author in fact of The Secret War (a copy of which he was good enough to sign for me last night). Matt's said everything I wanted to say, only much better than I ever could.

Other news

I spotted actual copies of A Gentle Axe in Prospero's Books today, even though the official publication is not until next week. It was very unexpected - and exciting.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

How would you like your axe, hard or soft?

The standard Faber edition of A Gentle Axe, released on Feb 1, will be a large format (or 'trade') paperback, with an RRP of £12.99. There will also be a limited edition hardback available exclusively through Goldsboro Books, for £16.99. 500 copies only. Signed, of course.

I'm really grateful to David Headley of Goldsboro for coming up with the idea and working with Faber to make it happen. Goldsboro Books is a bibliophile's paradise on Cecil Court near Leicester Square. If you live or work in London and you love books, you really should pop in for a browse. David and Dan are very friendly and welcoming. You can order any of their books online too.

I see they now have a blog going too. I'm honoured to get a mention.

By the way, you can also get a collector's edition (first printing) of Taking Comfort from Goldsboro.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

All socked up.

Here was me thinking I was getting agitated about the imminent launch of my book, A Gentle Axe. Then there was the small matter that Gentle Axe's publication date (Feb 1) is also the delivery date for my next novel to Faber. I had imagined that that was making me a little uptight too. Plus, I've got a tax return to get in by Jan 31. Not to mention a tax bill to pay. So I had been telling myself that with all that hanging over me it was no wonder I was a tad jumpy.

But no. This morning I realised what it was all about, really. The real reason for my mounting feelings of despair, stress, inadequacy, fear and general inability to face the world was... I've been running out of socks! Somehow, all my socks decided to fail one after the other. A big toe through here. A ripped heel there. And so on, until this morning I discovered that I had no clean pairs of socks in my sock drawer, apart from a thin and holey pair of trainer socks, those evil things that don't even cover your ankles.

As you can imagine, this lunchtime I wasted no time in getting along to my nearest M&S where I purchased no less than 14 pairs of identical black cotton (ankle-hugging) socks. 14 may seem excessive, but you know, you have to allow for the fact that there's always a certain number of pairs in the wash. And I wanted them identical so that I don't have to worry about pairing up. Instead I can draw on a rolling, constantly-replenished 'sock bank'.

Don't worry, I ripped off the trainer socks, and swapped them for one of the new pairs as soon as I was back at Day Job HQ. I feel a lot better now. Calmer. Ready for anything. There really is a lot to be said for socks.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Fedexed from New York.

I received an unexpected delivery this morning. A package from America which contained two boxed sets of three books: The Gentle Axe by R.N. Morris, Fangland by John Marks and Giraffe by J.M. Ledgrand. It was a sample of a package Penguin Press are sending out to draw attention to their fiction publishing.

The accompanying letter has twelve signatures, from the President & Publisher Ann Godoff to the Editorial Assistant Lindsay Whalen.

Here's what the letter says:

Dear Reader,

We at Penguin Press have been delighted to play matchmaker since 2004 for remarkable works of fiction, from Zadie Smith's On Beauty, Mark Helprin's Freddy and Fredericka, and Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind to Marina Lewycka's A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian and now Thomas Pynchon's Against the Day. We don't call attention to the strength of our fiction publishing, preferring to let our work on behalf of each book speak for itself. But the three novels you'll find in this box are so distinctive, so resistant to easy pigeonholing, that we decided to do something a little out of the ordinary.

These novels couldn't be more different each to each. One asks you to imagine an office environment so poisonous, so competitive, so...evil, that it can't recognize real evil, Old World evil, when it's staring it in the face. In another, the world's largest captive heard of giraffes suddenly arrives in a small Czech town, changing nothing and everything. In the third, we catch up with Police Inspector Porfiry Petrovich, made famous by Fyodor Dostoyevsky in Crime and Punishment, as he faces a murder more sinister than anything he's ever known. We loved these books so much we felt compelled to publish them. That's our only compact with you the reader, our only grounds for asking for your attention. You might not respond to all of these novels, but one of them just might rearrange the furniture in your head permanently. Which one? Well, that's what makes it interesting. Enjoy.

Perhaps encouraged by this I decided, at last, to join the Society of Authors. Sent off my application form today.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Karaoke kids.

It was my daughter Claire's ninth birthday today. We got her a PS2 karaoke set - Songstar Popworld or sommert. I'm sure there should be an (R) and a (TM) in there somewhere. Anyhow, it was a big hit and even made me want to have a go. Of course, the kids wouldn't let me. They've heard me sing without a mike.

The two songs I really wanted a go at were 'It's not unusual' and 'Should I stay or should I go?'

The amazing thing about the PS2 karaoke is that it tells you how you are doing - words like 'okay!', 'good!' and 'awful!' come up on the screen as you sing. Then it gives a score at the end. Maybe all karaokes do this? I have never sung karaoke in my life, I have to confess.

Anyhow, we are having the full karaoke party this weekend. 13 eight and nine year old girls pretending to be Beyonce Knowles and the Black Eyed Peas. Maybe I'll get to do my Tom Jones then.

Where have all the plugs gone?

James took me to task in a comment for not plugging anymore. So, well, I'll try to work one in. On the extremely tenuous connection of things that occurred on the 11th of Jan, I got news today of my first 'gig' as R.N.Morris, author of A Gentle Axe. I've been invited to take part in a historical crime event thingy (not sure exactly what it's going to be) at the Cambridge bookshop Heffers.

It's quite an informal gathering, apparently. I won't be required to do a reading or address an audience in any way - or so I'm told. Just turn up and hope that some punters do too. It's on February 22nd, so if you are a Cambridge person and you like historical crime fiction, it might be worth checking out.

I promise not to sing.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Travelling with Dr Who.

Last night I spent some time briefly in the company of a Time Lord. Dr Who was in my tube carriage, in the form of Sylvester McCoy. He played the seventh incarnation of the Doctor, I believe.

He's aged a bit, obviously. Haven't we all? But I was fairly sure it was him as soon as I saw him. But when he started speaking to his companion, I was convinced. The voice was unmistakable. It penetrated the whole carriage. A real actor's voice. It had to be him, especially as he was talking about his agent, and the theatre, and film roles, and directors, etc.. He held a black homburg-style hat in his hand, so that was also fairly clinching.

Presumably his Tardis was in for a service.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Win 4 Faber crime titles.

If you go here you can enter a competition to win the four Faber crime novels shown above.

You only have to answer one question and it is:

"Q. A Gentle Axe's Porfiry Petrovich appears in another author's classic work of fiction. What is it?"

Apparently the answer is to be found somewhere on this blog.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

She's no bitch.

I'm talking about the blogger who calls herself the Fiction Bitch, though personally I would call her the Fiction Angel. Not only did she write a wonderful review of Taking Comfort, she has now nominated it as her fiction book of the year (2006) on Susan Hill's blog. That's the second list I've made it onto!

So thank you, Bitch.

Feel the embossing

I picked up some copies of my other book this lunchtime. I was amazed to see that they've given me an embossed title with shiny red foil lettering.

Does this mean I've made it? Maybe I should give up now. After all, it doesn't get much better than shiny embossed lettering. I can honestly say it's what I've been working for all these years.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A or The Gentle Axe?

Funny how these things come about. But 'A Gentle Axe' will be published as 'The Gentle Axe' in America. I'm told there are very good marketing reasons for the difference. The publisher in the States is The Penguin Press. The publication date is March 22, I think. There will also be an American audiobook, from Tantor.

The book's also coming out in Russia. Don't know when. And I don't know what the title will be. But I am very pleased about it. The Russian publisher is U-Factory, for whom I cannot find a link.

In fact, not wishing to leave anyone out, the complete list of countries is:

USA (Penguin Books)
Israel (Keter Publishing)
Holland (de Bezige Bij)
Germany (Droemer)
Italy (Rizzoli)
Finland (Otava)
Greece (Psychogios)
Brazil (Planeta)
Romania (Editura Polirom)
Poland (Literackie)
Hungary (Partvonal)
Czech Republic (BB/Art)
Russian (U-factory)
Estonia (Eesti Paevaleht).

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New year, new diary.

Last year I had the Redstone Happiness diary. This year, I've gone for the Granta Diary 2007, 'Classic Crime'.

First significant date of the year: February 1. That's when my own crime novel, A Gentle Axe, is released in the UK. Crikey. It's only about a month away! I should be excited, but actually I'm petrified. I'm re-re-reading Crime and Punishment to try to calm my nerves. It seems to be working, which is a surprise given the feverish psychological atmosphere of the book.