I can’t believe that it is a year since I was writing Happy New Year for 2017 – where have the last twelve months fled?
Looking back over the year, I can see that it has been another very busy one. Although I wrote and published four books in 2016, and only (!) three in 2017, there’s been a lot of other parts of this publishing world taking up my time. When you are writer, editor, publisher, and audio commissioner, you have to keep changing hats.
First, the three books.
2017 has seen the publication in paperback and Kindle of The Huntsman’s Tale, The Merchant’s Tale, and The Lopez Affair. It has been a delight for me that they have all received such a warm response. And that is one of the joys of this new publishing world we live in – the great emails and comments I get from readers pretty well every day. In the past, writing could be quite an isolated, lonely affair, but now I feel surrounded by a wonderful crowd of readers and supportive fellow writers.
So, thank you all, so much!
Then, the seven audiobooks.
I have two lovely actors working with me at the moment. Jan Cramer is recording the Tudor Christoval Alvarez series, and Philip Battley the Oxford Medieval Mystery series. During 2017, Jan has made the unabridged recordings of Bartholomew Fair, Suffer the Little Children, and Voyage to Muscovy. She will be carrying on with more of Kit’s stories in the coming year. Also this year, Philip has recorded the whole of the Oxford series so far: The Bookseller’s Tale, The Novice’s Tale, The Huntsman’s Tale, and The Merchant’s Tale. Now, although the bulk of the work falls on the actors’ shoulders, it’s quite demanding for me, too. I listen to and edit every minute, with book and notebook in hand. I then send my comments and corrections, and the actors record their updated files. It’s quite a long process, so the seven audiobooks have eaten into the writing time of my new books. Well worth it in the long term, but – unfortunately! – there are only so many hours in the day.
And, of course, the TV deal.
Within the space of a few weeks, I had (totally unexpected) approaches from four TV and film production companies interested in making a TV series of The Chronicles of Christoval Alvarez. Although this was exciting and slightly stomach-churning, it was also something of a worry. Since going independent and running my own career, I’ve dispensed with a literary agent. However, the whole film and TV business is extremely complex and full of pitfalls for the unwary. I knew it lay quite outside my area of expertise, so I set about hunting for an agent. The difficulty is that generally a literary agent will only handle your film and TV rights if they handle all your rights, and I didn’t want that. However, in the end I found a specialist agent, working just with the film and TV rights for books, Sarah Vignoles at The Artists Partnership. She’s brilliant and took over the negotiations for me. I’ve now signed up with Mainstreet Pictures, a smallish but high-powered company. Their CVs are stunning! Obviously there is a hiatus over the Christmas and New Year period, but things should start moving again in 2018. Of course, they have to sell the series to a television company like the BBC or ITV, but their connections are first class. Still can’t quite believe this is happening!
Looking ahead to 2018.
As well as progress with the TV series, there are other things in train. Philip has been recording the unabridged version of This Rough Ocean. As this is by far my longest book, it has been a huge undertaking, but he has finished the initial recording and I have done my edits, so there’s only the final polish and the submission to go. Like all the audiobooks, it will be available from Audible, probably about the end of January or beginning of February. It’s a book which holds a particular place in my affections, telling the story of my husband’s ancestors during the English Civil War. One of the protagonists is my namesake.
Jan, as I mentioned, will be recording more of the Alvarez series. If she can fit them in, she might catch up with the published books – that is, The Play’s the Thing, That Time May Cease, and The Lopez Affair. That would be rather satisfying.
I had hoped to have the next Oxford book finished by now, as it is a Christmas story, but all my other commitments made it impossible. I am working on The Troubadour’s Tale at the moment, and hope to have it out early in 2018 – fingers crossed! And if Philip can fit it in, he will record it.
So that has been most of my year in 2017. We managed our two visits to Herefordshire in the spring and autumn, and had some big family get-togethers in the summer and autumn, but apart from that, my social life has been practically nil. I think we’ve twice had lunch out with friends, and David and I have celebrated our birthdays and anniversary with lunches out, but that is literally it! Nose to the grindstone, that’s me!
However, I need some time to unwind and simply think. I’ve noticed how many writers I know also have some sort of craft or art hobby. I think it’s related to the creative impulse, which manifests itself in something done with the hands to refresh the brain – embroidery, enamelling, painting watercolours, making models or miniatures, book-binding, carpentry, baking, rebuilding old cars . . . you name it, we do it. For me, it’s knitting, a very calm, soothing activity, with something to show for it afterwards. Here are a few recent projects:
Some Christmas presents:
Indeed, it has been a very busy year, and I don’t see much prospect of 2018 slowing down. I’ll hope to write three books. Perhaps I’ll manage four – it all depends on other commitments. What will happen about the TV series, I wonder?
And what will you be doing in 2018? I wish you a happy, healthy, and successful 2017 – Happy New Year!
Till next time,