This year has been astonishingly tough.
Ach, I know that writers are always complaining, but this year has been the hardest I've known in the last (almost) twenty years of scribbling. Not only did I lose our lovely old Bernese last year, but work has been difficult.
Thankfully, Simon & Schuster took over the first half of my backlist, which meant that this year I had the first thirteen books reissued. As you will hopefully have seen, all the books from The Last Templar to The Devil's Acolyte have been reprinted with new covers, and magnificent they do look. Templar's Acre came out and was highly appreciated by many readers and even my colleagues and critics. That is reassuring, believe me.
You see, writers do live in a quiet little bubble of our own making. We slave away at our desks and imagine entire worlds, populating them with people who exist only in our minds. For weeks at a time we respond to conversations with grunts and confused comments along the lines of "Eh?"
It's not that we're fools. Well, not only that we're fools, perhaps. But we are constantly thinking about other people and how they would react to certain situations and stimuli.
Keeping those people in our minds is very difficult. It's even harder to cope with the real world while we try to do so. Which is why we depend so much on the honesty and integrity of publishers and agents alike. It is essential that we can trust them.
This year has been astonishingly unpleasant because a lady I admired and trusted entirely has sadly died after a short but determined battle with cancer. Dear Dot Lumley, whom I met almost twenty years ago now, and who represented me and the Medieval Murderers for the last eleven years, is very sorely missed.
But in terms of actual work, this year has been dry. Completely. Every time I've tried to sit and write a new story, other things have got in the way, and it's been impossible. From rewrites and work on Templar's Acre, to promotional works with the book, to other events, and then the solid effort of re-editing the first thirteen books ready for republishing, the year has been completely packed. Now I am late on the last book, and that is a pain.
It's very fortunate that I have been working with the Royal Literary Fund because, although it does eat into my time to write, the work is so interesting, the students at Exeter University so fascinating, bright, enthusiastic and eager, that it has really lightened my weeks. It's odd: in twenty years of writing, I've not really missed the business meetings and cut and thrust of selling, but this last year, I've realised what I've been missing.
However, I am now back in the saddle. I am finishing up the latest book, Fields of Glory, which is the story of the battle of Crécy, and as soon as that's done, I'll crack on with the next book in the series, which I think will be a great addition to the Jecks series. As soon as that is written, I'll be returning to a modern day police book, I think, and then I have three other projects I am considering. They will, with luck, keep the mortgage being paid.
In the past I've spent ages wittering on (as I do) about the difficulty of getting a book into print. Now I've had an idea. I'm working on a new literary festival (more on that later) with some friends, and one of the jobs we've had to do is find a decent small printer who can print and bind short runs of books. And we have found a fabulous firm who not only does so with a really professional job, they aren't overly expensive.
Investing money in this kind of thing is not easy. However, I know that there are lots of people out there who wanted to get a copy of Act of Vengeance as a printed book, and who didn't want to see it only as a Kindle edition. Well, the good news is, it's going to be going on general release shortly, so it'll be on Kobo and Nook, hopefully well before Christmas. But at the same time, I don't have money to invest up front for an effort like this. So, before I throw lots of borrowed money into getting the books printed, I thought I should try a crowd-sourcing effort. That means asking people to commit to the £10 cost of the book and postage at another £3.00. That postage is a guess, incidentally. I've no idea how many pages the printed book would come to, so I have no idea what the weight would be. For postage to America it will almost certainly work out as up to double that - but it'll still mean that the whole book will be a lot cheaper than most hardbacks.
So, what do you think? A hardback, unique and very collectable Jecks book for from £13 to £16 or so. My first modern spy thriller, and it'll be printed in a short run of 100 copies. That should mean that the value will quickly rise for collectors.
For anyone who is interested, please contact me on and we'll see if there's enough interest to justify this rather silly digression for me!
And while I'm talking about such things, I have books for sale.
Yes! Books, glorious books!
I currently have very limited space indeed in my office, and a desperate need to make more. So, dear, kind readers: if you haven't yet bought a Christmas present for Auntie Maud, or need something to tempt a twenty-something away from her iPod for a day or two, how about buying a signed copy of a Jecks book for your loved (or if not loved, those tricky people for whom it's hard to know what to buy) ones!
What's the deal?
You tell me what you want, and I'll give you a straight price for the book, postage, packaging, and including a message of your choice. While stocks last, any spare promotional cards or bookmarks will be thrown in free of charge.
Paperbacks, trade paperbacks and hardbacks for many of the titles are available.
Of course, some people prefer to buy gift tokens and give their family ebooks. You already know about the first thirteen titles being ebooks, I'm sure, and that all the books from Simon & Schuster are already electronic. There are also the wonderful (I think) collections of my short stories: For the Love of Old Bones and No-one Can Hear You Scream, which would grace anybody's Kindle. I'm looking at how I can also get these onto Smashwords, which would mean I could get them available on Nook and Kobo etc. Watch this space.
Getting this kind of translation sorted is not easy, and does take a computer illiterate like me a lot of time and effort which I can ill afford. So if you are keen to see these books on Nook or Kobo (or other formats, please let me know), then do write to me. I'll be very interested to hear from you.
That's all for now.
Take care and happy reading!