This week’s highlight was the Canelo Authors Party. I travelled down by train to London, then took the Tube to Blackfriars Road. After getting a bit confused about where the party was located, I saw my editor through the window of a restaurant and went in. I was quarter of an hour early, but it meant I had the advantage of getting to speak to all the staff before anybody else arrived. At least they’ll know who I am now.
Canelo are still a small publisher, but have a lot of expertise and clout for their size. They’re also ambitious and keen as mustard, and are growing rapidly – they have more than doubled their staff in a year, and are ambitious to be the biggest e-publisher in Europe. Judging by what I’ve seen of them, and by the comments of the other authors I met – who have a wide experience of mainstream publishers – I believe they will make it. My first publisher, Pan Macmillan, were very large and I felt quite overlooked. During my five years and three books with them, I was only invited down to visit on one occasion, whereas I’ve already met with folk from Canelo three times in a single year.
Of the several authors I spoke to, I was most pleased to chat with Simon Turney and his wife. If you don’t already know of him, he’s a prolific writer with over twenty novels under his belt. Almost all of them are Roman, so as ancient world authors, we had a common interest. I already knew Simon – though had never met him in person – as he had invited me to provide the foreword for A Song of War – a compilation of linked stories about the Trojan War, written by a variety of excellent novelists.
I asked my editor for news about a hard copy of Son of Zeus. The main hold-up is that Canelo currently only publish e-books. They have been feeling out opportunities for working with existing publishers – who have production and distribution facilities already in place – but I’m not sure how well this is going. However, there have been developments and I should hear back shortly.
I’m still doing plenty of research on the First World War. I downloaded several interviews with veterans, filmed in the 1960s, and have been watching these with fascination. The films are black and white and the interviewees remind me of my own grandparents when I was growing up in the 1970s: always very smart, with tie and jacket and neatly combed hair, and old, rumpled faces with eyes that have seen indescribable things. There’s something about watching a person’s face when they’re recounting difficult experiences that you don’t quite get from reading diaries and first-hand accounts. I’m still doing plenty of reading, though. I’ve just finished The Roses of No Man’s Land by Lyn MacDonald, about the experiences of medical staff in the war. I also bought Passchendaele: The Sacrificial Ground by Nigel Steel & Peter Hart, only to realise later that I already have it – twice! That’s the problem with owning 150 books on the subject.