Newsletter – 11th December 97

Seasonal Greetings to everyone from Edinburgh

Caprice and Rondo

Most of you who ordered by airmail will by now have read your copies of Caprice and Rondo – the surface mail people have been receiving their copies in the last few days from the reports I’ve received. Hope you’ve all been enjoying it and it has answered some of the many questions generated by the series so far!! Of course I’m sure it will have thrown up a few more as well 😉

I’m sure you’ll all be glad to hear that it made the UK hardback fiction bestseller lists top ten, and a large part of that will have been down to you all. We’ve currently sold about 600 copies and demand continued to be strong despite having more than twice the number of advance orders as we had for To Lie with Lions. As mentioned below Dorothy signed a load more at the personal appearance which she did for us on the 12th Nov, and at the time we thought they would probably last until Xmas, but in fact they only lasted until the end of the month!!

New feature for the web site – Questions for Dorothy

Every time I’ve seen her recently, Dorothy has asked if there is anything she can do to help me with the web page. I’d been reluctant to ask for anything as I know how busy she is and most ideas were inevitably going to be very time consuming, but a comment I received regarding the US tour set me to thinking. Most of you probably have little or no opportunity to see one of her appearances and ask all the questions that I know you’re eager to ask.
Why not, I thought, compile a list of answers to all the most common questions that she is usually asked at these events and then invite some more that she can select from and answer.
I suggested this to her and if we can make it work she is keen to go ahead with it. This is a bit experimental and we’ll need to see how much of Dorothy’s and my time it takes up, but if it works out we’ll soon build up the equivalent of a Dunnett FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) and maybe be able to give a little of the flavour of attending one of her talks.

If you want to be involved send in one question each and we’ll select about 10 or 12 depending on how much time and space is needed to answer them, and once Dorothy has replied to them I’ll post the answers both on the web site and here in the newsletter. If all goes smoothly then in a few months time we’ll repeat the exercise with some new questions and add them to those we already have.
It would help if you keep the questions separate from any other correspondence and put “Questions for Dorothy” in the Subject line of your message. If you have any standard answers that you know about then I’d be interested to hear those as well.

Please don’t expect an immediate result as both the Christmas holidays and Dorothy’s busy schedule will mean it will be well into 1998 before we can put up the replies. I’ll be away all next week as well so although I’ll be picking up mail at home I won’t be able to follow up any queries.

Dorothy’s Talk and Signing at South Bridge

As you know Dorothy did a small UK tour to promote C&R, and this included an evening here at our main shop.
I had printed some copies of the web site, both to give my colleagues who were running the event, an idea of her background and also to give out to anyone interested. Having read the summary the first thing one of my colleagues said on seeing her was “She’s not 74 !!!” and indeed she looked as usual much younger despite her recent heavy schedule, proving the old adage that a keen mind keeps you young.

She started off the night by giving a quick summary of the two series for anyone who wasn’t fully aware of them and it was interesting for me to hear her comparison of the more obviously attractive character of Francis with that of Nicholas. The impression was of a man with vast abilities but no real purpose in life, and she said she had wanted to have such a character to explore the ways he could develop.

She then went on to read a passage from C&R which she referred to as “the divining scene” and we were all held spellbound for a while as the scene progressed.

Having invited questions she then was able to regale us with stories of her research trips to the Ukraine and Poland for this latest volume, and we were soon in fits of laughter at her adventures. To land in the middle of the Ukraine at night and travel with a driver who speaks no English in an ancient ex-soviet car on cart-track roads that are awash with rain and landslides to a “2000 room soviet hotel” in the middle of nowhere, would be daunting for the most intrepid of us. I wished I’d had a tape recorder handy. Surely there is a wonderful autobiography waiting to be written when all the other projects are completed, though I’m not sure she’d thank me for suggesting it 😉

Something I didn’t know was that Steven Pacey, who read the audiobook of Niccolo Rising, was the actor who played Tarrant in the cult UK Sci-Fi series Blake 7. It turns out that when you get a contract to have one of your books turned into and audiobook, you have to supply pronunciation guides for the narrator, and that she didn’t know this until the day before the recording was due to start!!

We also learned that if you have your books published in Italy by her Italian publisher, one of the perks of the promotion visit is a box in La Scala Milan as the publisher is a director there!!

Once everyone hd bought their signed copies, had finished their wine and left, she very gamely continued signing large quantities of both C&R and Ringed Castle which have since been all sent off to the many fresh orders we’ve received since.

My own continued reading of Lymond

Thanks for all your comments about my thoughts on GK and QP. I hope all my replies reached those who wrote to me. I’ve had more trouble with my private mail account and am concerned taht some may have gone astray.
There isn’t much space here to go into too much detail about Disorderly Knights and Pawn in Frankincense which I just recently finished – I suspect I’ll need to re-read them before I do that. So just a few quick impressions.
At first I found DK a little slow, but that was soon dismissed as the pace quickened after the large amount of scene setting necessary to the story. I’m sure that if I re-read it now I’ll get many more clues to the subsequent behaviour of Graham Mallett, but at the time I had little idea of what was to come. What an incredible villianous construction he is!! Dealing with an obvious monster is one thing – when that monster is so thoroughly disguised as an angel that everyone trusts him absolutely the chances for disaster are vastly greater.
As the scene moved back to Scotland the sweep of the story became astonishing. Lymonds treatment of Joletta intriuging until the truth of her became apparent, the curious love/hate feelings of Jerrott, the death of Will Scott…. there seemed to be no rest in any chapter from the flood of new twists to be assessed. I had little warning of the “Council of War” at Boghall when suddenly all the clues half-seen or missed entirely were all suddenly brought together in that masterful speech condemning Gabriel against all the obvious appearances. A tour de force that hardly slakened until the dramatic ending quite unlike those of the previous two books.

I was warned that PF was hard to read and indeed it was. So much cutting between scenes after the two parties split up and ventured into continually changing areas, and the relations between Francis, Jerrott and Marthe in a constant turmoil. I found I was often having to check back a couple of chapters to confirm things and also often referring to the prophecies of the Dame de Doubtance. Phillippa is becoming a wonderful character and must surely figure highly in the last two volumes. The ending is quite staggering. It took me three reads before I was sure that Mikal’s treachery was actually a Lymond set-up to get into the Seraglio. Then the sudden switch in fortune of the trial that looked hopeless. I’m still trying to construct the final position of the chess game and I’m not sure if it can actually be done, but the concept is fabulous, the tension unbearable and the agony of Francis’ decision can be palpably felt.
Can’t decide if I should be re-reading or rushing on with Ringed Castle.

Enough for now. Hope you all have a great time over the New Year.

best wishes


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