Apologies, I've had a few technical problems over the last week or so and I haven't been able to update the blog until now. But there have been a couple of other firsts in the past couple of days which have helped offset a lot of heavy credit crunch-related stuff at work.
On Wednesday I received a parcel from Transworld which I thought would be the copy edit manuscript of Claudius (more of that later), but it turned out to be half a dozen copies of the Italian edition of Caligula. It looks great: the same brooding picture of the gladiator, but with an understated, upmarket feel. As I've said before, I really like the title Morte Allimperatore! (Death to the Emperor).
Then on Saturday another parcel arrived. This time it was the paperback version of Caligula. A neat little package in which much of my future may be invested. The mass market paperback of a first novel acts as a springboard for the second book and it's also the version that generates the most royalties. Samantha, my new publicist, has set me up a talk and a book signing in Waterstones in Stirling on February 26 to help push the paperback, and Borders bookshop in Glasgow wants me to do a talk and signing in July after the launch of Claudius.
I have to admit that I'm getting a little bit nervous about the Claudius copy-edit. It was supposed to be completed by January 5th and here we are two weeks later and it still hasn't arrived. There are still seven months to publication on July 16, but my experience with Caligula tells me that in reality the book has to be completed by March, including proofreading. If a big rewrite is needed that's a pretty tight deadline for a guy who can only work two hours a day. The whole process of writing and being involved in the publication of books has felt so natural up to this point that it's a bit strange to suddenly feel under pressure.
Away from the book, I saw my daughter Nikki off to do six months at Leon University in Spain on an Erasmus language scholarship. She's an incredibly capable young lady and really looking forward to it, but for a parent it's always a pretty deep moment when you send your kid off into the unknown. It was nice this morning to get an e-mail from her saying she'd just bought a saucepan and had been able to make a cup of tea and had used her language skills to choose her first pik'n'mix.