Friday, November 30, 2007

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Lucky Lehane.

A friend sent me a link to this article about Dennis Lehane. Mr Lehane has had extraordinary success in having his novels turned into films. When asked why he thinks this is, he gave a very modest answer:

His talent is not, he insists, originality of plot, going so far as to say his plots "could be found on an episode of 'CSI' or 'Law & Order.' " He's merely happy to take credit for doing what he does very well, which is to write meaty, morally ambiguous, thought-provoking crime novels centered in the seamiest parts of Boston.

No, his explanation for his success is simpler: Pure luck. "I am just the luckiest guy on the planet," he says. (If you suspect he used a more colorful word than "guy," you're right.) "Because I'm Irish, I keep looking at the sky, waiting for it to fall."

I confess I haven't read any Dennis Lehane, though I decided I ought to when the Moscow/St Petersburg Times compared me to him in this review. (They said: "The Gentle Axe" is closest to a contemporary crime novel -- more Dennis Lehane than Dostoevsky -- in its evocation of St. Petersburg as a hive of criminal activity, much of it catering to forbidden sexual urges.)

I want to read him even more now that I realise what a modest, self-effacing guy he is.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Verkaufte Seelen.

The German edition of A Gentle Axe seems to have made it on to my German publisher's website. I didn't do German at school, so I have no idea how they have translated the title. Anyone care to help me out?

Interesting to see a totally different cover design. And it appears I'm Roger in Germany, not R.N.. This is all surprising to discover, but in a good way.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Dostoevsky today.

As imagined by the amazing Dostoevsky machine. Amazing.

The secrets of the Russian language.

Revealed here.

Bargain. are now selling the hardback of The Gentle Axe (US edition, mailed from the US) for the knock down price of $7.99.

Perfectly priced for Christmas, I'd say! And according to the good folk at BookLoons, it would make a perfect Christmas present, as it's made it into their recommended reads of 2007. Here's the original BookLoons review by Tim Davis.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Lugovoi mocks MI6

It's the anniversary of the death of the former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko. It doesn't seem a year ago that everyone in London suddenly developed an irrational fear of sushi bars. Especially sushi bars with men speaking Russian in them.

I thought I'd check out the view from St Petersburg. The British security services' only suspect remains the multimillionaire Andrei Lugovoi, also a former KGB agent, and currently a candidate in the forthcoming Russian parliamentary elections.

Apparently the charges against him are making him something of a celebrity; I imagine they won't hinder his candidature.

He is not very impressed with the evidence against him, saying "they have no proof of any kind" and dismissing the allegations as "raving and barking from across the channel". As for Britain, according to Lugovoi, “Britain has always been a country that allows all sorts of bastards to seek refuge on its territory.” Wow. There's a politician who knows how to give sound bites.

Meanwhile President Putin, in a political rally that according to the St Petersburg Times "blended elements of a Soviet-era Communist Party congress with the raucous enthusiasm of an American political convention" branded his opponents Western-backed jackals. And a girl group in miniskirts sang "I want someone like Putin".

The big question is will he step down, as he has promised, and as the constitution demands. I guess it's going to be hard when you've got girl bands in miniskirts begging you to stay on. He's only human after all.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I don't remember writing a technothriller

I'm amazed to discover that the paperback of Taking Comfort is the number two bestseller in amazon uk's technothriller chart. Just below a Michael Crichton omnibus and one above a Tom Clancy novel.

This is staggering news for a number of reasons, most of all because I wouldn't myself class Taking Comfort as a technothriller. Unlike this book. Or this one. Or this one.

Of course, by the time you check out the list I will have sunk back down into obscurity. But I enjoyed my brief moment in the technothriller sun. Alternatively, you could help me knock Michael Crichton off the top spot. Now that would be cool.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Oh! Those Russians!

I'm currently back in Russia. In my head, that is. Right now reading up on Tsar Alexander II inThe Romanovs 1818-1959. The Russian Imperial family of the 1860s make an appearance in the WIP. Well, I call it a WIP, but I haven't actually written a word of it yet. Perhaps I should call it a WIM. Short for Work In Mind.

I'm in the research phase, which always seems to involve spending a lot of time, and unavoidably money, in bookshops, panic-buying any book I think might vaguely come in handy.

This amazon list seems a good place to start.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The French succumb to the Axe (finally!)

I learnt today that I have a French publisher for A Gentle Axe. Actually, not just for Gentle Axe. The publisher, Univers Poche, have also acquired the next book in my Porfiry Petrovich series, A Vengeful Longing, which is due out in the UK in February 2008. Oh, and it seems they have also acquired the book after that, the title of which I shall be keeping under wraps for a little while longer yet. A three book deal then! The scary thing is that the third book, Title Under Wraps, is not yet written. I did write a synopsis, which I'm sure I must have lying around somewhere.

Looks like I'm going to be busy.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Writers, get a myspace page

Sometimes people leave comments on one or other of my myspace pages. Very occasionally, they're from readers. This one made my day:

"So here's a semi-interesting story:

I recently was in the hospital getting surgery on the tendon in my left leg. On my way home, I passed by the hospital's used book stand and immediately saw your book right on the front table.

I've had you on my friends list for a while now, and still haven't read your book until I saw it there in the hospital.

I find myself surprised because, I haven't read a book that didn't involve Doctor Who in months. I've actually stopped playing video games just so I can focus on reading your book.

If it weren't for you asking to be a friend on my myspace I probably would never have gotten the book, so thank you. You've made my recovery time much more bearable.

I haven't read Crime and Punishment yet, but that's the next book I'm going to tackle after I finish this one. (70 pages left)"

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The St Petersburg perspective.

I've been logging into the St Petersburg Times for a Russian-centric take on the news. One reason is I'm planning another trip to the city. I was hoping it would be a combined research and promotional trip, as I had thought that the Russian edition of A Gentle Axe was due to be released this month. Unfortunately, it seems that there has been some kind of unexpected delay in the schedule, due to my Russian publisher U-Factory being taken over by a bigger publisher.

The big news in Russia is the up-coming election, in which it seems that hunky pin-up and state president Vladimir Putin will surrender power only to hang on to it. I may now time my visit so that I am there for that. It has nothing to do with the book that I am about to begin writing, the third Porfiry Petrovich novel, but it may make for a lively visit. I hope that I'll be able to meet up with my Russian friend Andrey, and maybe some people from U-Factory. It will be interesting to hear their take on the elections.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Another take on anxiety.

A very stimulating response to our navel-gazing about anxiety from Jenn Ashworth on her terrific blog Every Day I Lie A Little. Here's an excerpt:

I wonder if anxiety around writing is the same as anxiety about everything else, and just as un-useful? If it is an over-awareness of an imaginary audience, a kind of stage fright brought on by the assumption that making things up and writing them down is an important thing to do? So what if it isn't good, or no-one reads it? When it becomes important, for me, it gets stuck. When it is playing and I am only pleasing myself, this thing called 'flow' happens and I am more calm and content than I am when I am doing anything else. The inner critic whispers justifiably over things like punctutation and spelling, but because I can fix these things when I can be bothered, she is easily ignored.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Macmillan New Writers.

There's a new blog site for writers who have published with Macmillan New Writing. That includes me, of course. So I went over and posted something about writerly anxiety. But as usual, I find that what I wanted to say has been far better expressed by David Isaak, author of the brilliantly written thriller, Shock And Awe.

If you're a writer, why not pop over and add your own thoughts?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Greek edition.

By a bizarre coincidence, I just returned from Greece a couple of days ago only to discover that the Greek edition of Gentle Axe seems to be published. Cover above. Hmm. Moody, quite noire. Interesting.

The publisher is Psycholios and here's their website. That's me underneath the Greek Harry Potter.