Sunday, 14 September 2008

Living with Caligula

One of the things I enjoy most about being an author is the little suprises that arrive when you're least expecting them. On thursday night I came home to find I'd been sent four copies of the Polish version of Caligula, which has been published by Amber and was actually on the streets of Warsaw a week before it was my book was available in Britain. It's a compact soft-backed version with the same picture on the cover and it's fascinating to see your words in a different language and to think that Kaligula is being read by people in Krakow and Gdansk.
The English version has already ended up in some surprising places. I discovered on the net that it's out on loan from two libraries in Tasmania and half a dozen in New Zealand. It's stocked in a big bookshop in Singapore, available in Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, and you can buy it on line on Amazon Japan, Germany and France. That's not to mention the editions that will soon be published in Italian, Russian, Serb, Portuguese and Romanian.
Obviously I'd been waiting to see if it would be picked up by a US publisher, but that hasn't happened. It is going to be published in America though, simultaneously in the United States and Canada on January 27. And the mass-market paperback version comes out in this country on February 12. So there's plenty to look forward to!

I completed the latest version of the follow up to Caligula on the train on Thursday night and I'm polishing it at the moment before I send it to Simon next week or the week after. It's amazing the buzz you get when you finally reach those two lovely words .........'The End'......... even though you know that there will be more revisions to come. There are a couple of things I'm not certain about - I've made some pretty radical changes - but it's a much better book. The beauty of rewriting is that small changes, a word here and there, can make such a big difference. You'd think you'd get bored of reading the same thing twenty times over, but I love it because I know that every time I'll find something to improve.

Caligula continues to do well on the Amazon historical fiction charts, jockeying for position with another couple of Roman books by first-time authors, and sitting at about seventh among the historical hardbacks, behind Conn Iggulden, Philipa Gregory and Bernard Cornwell. So I'm in pretty good company. It's interesting to compare the reviews each book has. The other debutants have about five or six times more reviews than I have, but a stange pattern has developed in one of them. It started out with a host of five-stars right after publication, but just lately there have been half a dozen one and two stars. The latest one complains he didn't even finish the book and he's been conned into buying it by the earlier reviews, which are very obviously by friends and family. Looking back over them, I think he's right and that the Amazon review system is pretty flawed. When someone puts a title on their review saying Buy this Book you can be pretty certain they're not coming at it objectively! Naturally all of mine are completely kosher. :-)

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