Monday, 13 June 2016

FALCONER REPRINTS

I have now obtained all the rights for my Falconer books, so Ostara will be publishing the three titles formerly published by Severn House.  They are "Falconer and the Ritual of Death", "Falconer's Trial", and "Falconer and the Death of Kings".  Look out for them.
I am still working on the Malinferno/Pocket novel - whenever am-dram allows it.  I have recently played two small parts in a beautiful play called "A Little Like Drowning", written by Anthony Minghella the renowned film director.  A story of Italian immigrants to the UK in the 1920s, it follows the life of Alfredo through to the 1960s.  I play the part of his father - the patriarch of the Mare family - and also the part later of an Irish priest.  This requires being able to speak English with first an Italian accent (plus some Italian), and then with an Irish accent.  It has been a nice challenge.



Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Ashamed!

I can't believe I have left it so long since my last entry.  I can only say that my hobby has completely occupied my time.  Am-dram, you are a hard mistress.  And I have had some time away in Turkey and the Algarve.
Istanbul

Tavira - Algarve

All I can say is a belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Since then I have been busy building a series of sets for The Stables theatre production of Jeeves and Wooster, which is now culminating in full houses of veery happy people.  So it's back to the drawing board for my two writing projects.  I am concentrating on the Regency couple of Joe Malinferno and Doll Pocket and the novel of their exploits that is called "The Hieroglyph Murders".  Some of the characters from my short stories of the pair will reappear and be expanded from their cameo roles in the stories that saw the light of day in the Medieval Murderers books, "King Arthur's Bones" and "Hill of Bones".  French Egyptologist Jean-Claude Casteix and his wooden leg will figure prominently as Joe and Doll figure out why those attempting to decipher hieroglyphics are suddenly dying.  The ill-fated but intriguing Queen Caroline will also put in an appearance or two, along with other real-life people such as Champollion, the eventual decipherer of the Egyptian symbols.  IN this story, he gets considerable assistance in that task from an unexpected source.
Lovers of Falconer should not be disappointed though. I still have another tale in the pipeline, and I will finish it too before long.  If am-dram doesn't get too much in the way.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Outcomes

Ah, there I was with last blog anticipating a new era in British politics post the General Election.  In the end it was all a complete let-down.  No slugging it out between Labour and Tory, no breakthrough by UKIP, no realignment of progressive parties to keep the Tories out.  No move towards PR as a result.  Same old Tory hierachy, now released (as we have already seen) to carry out it own extreme agenda irrespective of only getting 36% of the total vote.  I guess you can see where my sympathies lie!
Now we have a leadership contest for Labour that is creating real interest, and a man who has emerged from the 'loony left' to speak honestly and straightforwardly about issues that affect us all.  It's so refreshing that Jeremy Corbyn is clearly not in the mould of standard party hack that he is a tempting option to consider.  Some say he is unelectable as a Prime Minister - I say so what?  The next election is five years away, so in the mean time let's have Tory ideas tested against real left-wing opposition.
But I think I know in my heart that the norm will prevail, just as it did at the general election, and one of the other career politicians will come through.  But did you notice how Andy Burnham is now claiming he has never been part of the political establishment, or wrapped in the Westminster bubble? It's what I call the Corbyn effect.

On another tack completely, I recently read  a novel called "The Circle" by David Eggers.  It is the story of the takeover of society by an Internet company and its social media arm.  Some deride it as nonsense, but they mainly come from the rarified cyber world.  It does take current use of the Internet to an extreme, but it does show where it all could end up, if we are not careful.  Total absorbtion in social media networks, a life responding to Facebook and Twitter messages, the pressure to report everything we do in order to be seen to be sharing experiences.  The expunging of those who refuse to be online for their whole lives, with their every action and locale known by everyone.  All in the cause of sharing and being part of some insidious whole.  Read it - laugh in amusement, and growing horror.  I mean, do you really want a fridge that automatically orders more milk from a supermarket delivery service because it can't find any on its shelves?

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Politics

Here we are in the middle of a general election campaign that promises to produce a very interesting result.  And yet I can't get worked up about it.  I think it's because I just want to get to the finishing line now.  I've had enough of politicians promising all sorts of goodies, if I vote for them.  It would seem we can have lower taxes, higher pensions, more funding of the NHS and also cut the deficit at the same time.  Amazing how this can all be done just before an election, but not for the five years before it, and probably not for the next five years after it.  I also saw the end of a Nigel Farage interview on TV yesterday, where he actually said that, if the government lowered taxes, there could be an uplift in the economy that meant more income would flow into the Exchequer.  He insisted it could happen.  Not a matter to base your budget strategy on though, is it?

I am currently involved in the next Stables production, which is "Anne Boleyn" by Howard Brenton.  It is full of the political scheming around Henry VIII's desire for a divorce from his first wife, so he can marry the fecund Anne.  While Anne is shown as fervently for bringing Protestantism to England out of religious conviction, Henry is persuaded by a very different motive.  Not only will he become Head of the Church and be able to approve his own divorce, all monastic revenues will accrue to him and not the Pope.  Taxes and money make the world go round, then as now.

The play is seen through the eyes of James I, and he makes a very perceptive comment at the end of the play.  One that is pertinent in the present day of ISIS and Fundamentalist Christianity.  He says "Why is it that all we do in the name of God is always exactly the same as what we need to do in our own self-interest?"

Think on.

Friday, 30 January 2015

I have had an email from a fan asking about my progress on the Georgian novel featuring Joe Malinferno and Doll Pocket.  It made me feel guilty about the lack of progress I have been amking on both it and the new Falconer book.  I confess I have not been writing much for the last three months, and now I must remedy that.  I am split between making headway with either book, and need to decide which one I will concentrate on first.  The Falconer has been begun, and calls me more urgently, whereas the Georgian book needs more research.  But research fascinates me more than the task of writing!  Maybe I can dovetail both together.
In the meantime, my am-dram hobby calls and I am going to direct "Blithe Spirit" by Noel Coward in July.  It is a perennial favourite in the theatre, and I shall be looking for fresh ideas to revive it for a new audience.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Turkey

OK.  This new Falconer I keep on talking about is set in Trebizond, which is now Trabzon in modern-day Turkey.  I could say my recent trip to Turkey has been for the purposes of research.  But it hasn't.  Lynda and I have spent two weeks in the opposite corner of Turkey on a walking holiday.  The first week we were in Torba, which is close to Bodrum on the Aegean coast of Turkey.  From Bodrum you can see the Greek island of Kos, and realise how odd the border is between the two countries.  Islands closer to the Turkish mainland and far from mainland Greece are Greek.  We were amazed by the remains at Ephesus of a major Greek city.

The countryside around is very like Cyprus, where we lived for seven years.  Turkish and Greek Cypriots lived closely together and shared culinary techniques and some words.  But all that was destroyed when the strife over Cyprus resulted in a Turkish invasion.  Forty years on, and the rift between Turkish and Greek Cypriots is still too huge for many on the island.
Our second week was spent close to Olu Deniz and Fethiye on the Mediterranean coast.  Once again, the walking was great, but the outstanding memory was of an abandoned village.  Kayakoy is the village on which Louis de Berniere based his novel "Birds without Wings".  It is the tragic story of Greeks and Turks in that region living side by side until the Turkish war of independence in the 1920s resulted in a mass exchange of peoples.  All the Turks living in Greece had to relocate to Turkey, and the Greeks living in Turkey had to relocate to Greece.  Despite the fact that Greeks had lived for generations in Kayakoy, they had to go.  The returning Turks who were relocated in Kayakoy could not settle down there and left.  The village stands deserted.
A Turkish guide took us round the village and told us personal stories of his family - how Greeks begged not to leave, and how arriving Turks yearned for their old life in Greece.  He is part of a movement to have the village stand as a memorial to peace and tolerance, and a monument to the stupidity of ideology and political expediency.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

The Italian Job

I am in the process of signing a deal to publish my back catalogue of Falconer stories (and maybe the short Zuliani series) in Italy.  The publisher is Mondadori, who have a series of detective novels under the name of 'Il Giallo'.  This has a curious symmetry as the word means 'yellow' in Italian and derives from the background colour of the early editions.


My first publisher was Victor Gollancz, and though my books were too late for the treatment, early Gollancz crime and SF books were, of course, always published in a yellow cover.


I always recall as a young teenager (though the name was not used in my day) that I scoured the public library shelves for yellow spines as my primary means of book selection.  I was later very proud to become a Victor Gollancz author, though rather disappointed my crime stories would not be 'wrapped' in yellow!  There was some talk, I suppose in the late 90s, of reviving the yellow cover.  I think some Gollancz books did come out with a yellow spine.  But none of my titles.
Now, at last, I will be published in yellow.  I will keep you up date concerning the progress of my Italian editions.  If you want to read them in Italian, that is.