Tuesday, February 27, 2007

My favourite Axe review so far...

... has come in from from my Russian friend Andrey. I sent him a copy of the book as a way of saying thank you for his wonderful and generous hospitality when I visited his city last August.

Here's what he said:

I finished reading of the novel just a couple of days ago. The most striking impression for me, being St.Petersburg native, is a strong Russian, St.Petersburg feel of it. Although written in English and by an Englishman, it reads as a naturally Russian literary work, and it's quite an accomplishment. I haven't experienced that feeling before, although I read quite a few Western novels with Russian

It's a great work of the detective genre, it truly keeps you thrilled and guessing until the very end. My mom loves detective stories, and I told her she would enjoy it when it's available in Russian.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Signed, lined and dated.

Last week was half term and I was in sole charge of the kids for most of it. So not much time for blogging. I know I've been neglecting the plog recently. I can't really make amends in one post, but I will try to do better in the future. It's an exciting time for me, which seems to be going by in a blur. Whenever I get a chance I'll try to put something here, but I can't promise to be a regular or frequent blogger any more.

The week started with my seven year old son doing his bit for science. He was taking part in a language processing study which involved getting his brain scanned in Queen Square, otherwise known as Neurology Square. Just about the only building on Queen Square that is not devoted to the study or treatment of the human brain, is that given over to the offices of Faber and Faber. Very convenient for me as I was able to nip out for a quick meeting with my editor over the next Porfiry Petrovich novel, which he had just finished reading. The meeting went well. "It seems to be in very good shape," was his verdict. There's some work to do but nothing major.

Pancakes on Tuesday, of course. Then our plan for Wednesday was a visit to St Paul's to fit in with Luke's topic at school, which is The Great Fire of London. Ah, but the Wednesday after Pancake Day is of course Ash Wednesday. It turns out that St Paul's Cathedral is some sort of church! Who would have thought? They actually have services there on Ash Wednesday which means that it is closed to sightseers. We didn't get to climb the galleries. By way of consolation, we walked along to The Monument and climbed its 311 steps. The Dickensian porter at the bottom was worth the admission fee alone.

Thursday evening I had a trip to Cambridge to take part in Heffers Crime Through Time evening. I have to say it went by in a bit of a blur. People came. Some of them bought books. I signed, lined and dated them. (This is what the collectors want these days.) I was pleasantly surprised to see that Richard of Heffers had put out some copies of Taking Comfort too. I think I probably signed an equal number of each book. I was asked to sign some of the Taking Comfort copies as 'Roger Morris aka RN Morris'. Some of the people who came were undoubtedly dealers and I've already seen copies of the book advertised on the internet.

It was very pleasant chatting to the people who turned up to buy and nice to meet some of my fellow historical crime novelists, notably Lee Jackson, Frank Tallis and R.S. (Ruth) Downie.

This afternoon I'm off to do more signing. In fact, I have 500 limited edition hardbacks waiting for me at Goldsboro Books. Repetitive stress here I come. If you're a collector, the Goldsboro Books edition is the one to have.

Hot off the press

Got an early copy of the American edition (The Gentle Axe) through the post this morning. It's a hardback. And a thing of beauty. Publication date is March 22.

The back's worth a look too.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

More reviews for the Axe.

I haven't actually seen these in full, but the press officer at Faber has forwarded me these quotes:

‘RN Morris has brilliantly appropriated (Petrovich) from Dostoevsky’s novel. … Morris’ recreation of the seamy side of 19th-century St Petersbury is vivid and convincing … As to who did it, Morris keeps the reader guessing until the end. …Morris even includes the statutory holy monk on his deathbed, and he has certain advantages over Dostoevsky: A Gentle Axe is much shorter than Crime and Punishment, and much easier to read.’  Virginia Rounding, Independent

‘Morris has created an atmospheric St Petersburg, and a stylish set of intellectual problems, but what makes A Gentle Axe such an effective debut is its fascination with good and evil.  It has earned its author the right to make use of the work of a greater writer.’  Roz Kaveney, TLS

Been quietly grinning to myself this morning.

More quotes here.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Crime through Time.

Next Thursday (22 Feb), I'm going to be taking part in an evening devoted to historical crime fiction at Heffers in Cambridge. There will be a number of other authors taking part, including so far CJ Sansom, Barbara Cleverly and Susanna Gregory.

It's going to be quite informal. No speeches. No readings. But hopefully some wine!

It starts at 6.30pm. Details here.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Snapshots of my disordered mind.

The Guardian Review section on Saturday has been running a series about writers' workspaces.

So I thought I'd give you a glimpse into my own.

As you can see below, the cat got out of the cage:

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Local author moment.

Sorry. I couldn't resist it. I spotted it in the window of Prospero's Books on Saturday, then went back with my camera today, Sunday.

That's my book, that is. I still can't really believe it. I think I needed to take photographic evidence to convince myself.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

So far, so good.

What people are saying about A Gentle Axe:

"Lush, and exceptionally compelling, but take your time - R.N. Morris's The Gentle Axe has a vast depth of Russian soul; mysterious, compassionate, and utterly irresistible." Alan Furst.

"A Gentle Axe is tense, atmospheric and bristles with the kind of intelligence you'd read, well, Dostoevsky for... a piece of literary fun." The Independent on Sunday.

"... fantastically confident... the historical detail always enhances the story and never overpowers it, which is a great skill if you can pull it off and Morris does.." Mike Ripley's Crime file.

"... a classic whodunnit where layer upon layer is opened for inspection in accordance with the timeline of Porfiry Petrovich's detection, much like investigating the substance of a Russian doll." It's a Crime... website.

"... the narrative is direct and effective, the place and people well drawn, with, presumably, a series to follow." The Literary Review.

"...he delivers a lively plot, well written, with some unusual characters." The Times.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Another review of the Axe.

My thanks to Jim Younger, author of the amazing High John The Conqueror, for alerting me to this one.

Oh, it's in Japanese, by the way.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

P-day in the UK!

The axe is out!

Today is the official UK publication date of A Gentle Axe (Faber, pounds 12.99, ISBN-10: 0571232051, ISBN-13: 978-0571232055).

If you spot it anywhere, I'd love to hear about it.