Greetings from a rather soggy Edinburgh – torrential rain for the second weekend in a row.I’ve been a bit quiet on the Dunnett front recently but you’ll see why as you read further down. I’ve tried to keep up with as much mail as possible but if I’ve missed anyone out you’ll need to forgive me as I’ve been working well into the night (and sometimes the morning) trying to keep to deadlines on the new search system which we just turned on about 40 minutes ago. If you’re missing a reply please get back in touch with me.
Some new “Answers”
A few things to mention in this newsletter. Directly Dunnett related are some new “Answers” on the web page – I hope you’ll all visit the pages as there are quite a few new developments which I hope will be a great benefit to you whenever you’re researching or buying books, but just in case you don’t have time I’ve copied them into this newsletter. I’ve also started experimenting with a new look for the Answers page although I’ve had to cut the changes a bit short because of all the other things happening – let me know whether it looks ok on your browsers. Not so many answers this time as Dorothy is frantically trying to get back on track with Niccolo 8 after a period when everything else seemed to be interrupting. She was in Cyprus for a few days near the beginning of June, talking to journalists for the launch of the Italian edition of Scales of Gold, and seems to have had a great time – I’ve been promised a photograph for the pages when they’re sent over to her.
Many of you have remarked favourably on the Dunnett Places to Visit feature, so I hope you may be interested in another new section which went on the web site a few days ago – The James Thin Guide to Edinburgh – based on our Mercat Press Handbook to Edinburgh which is being revised and reissued this summer. It’s likely to be something that will grow and take on a life of its own if I get a chance to develop it as I hope, and it should give a flavour of the city and its history to those of you who haven’t had a chance to come here. Let me know what you think of it and any suggestions that you may have.
New Search and Ordering system – BookSearch
Now to something that while it’s not directly Dunnett related, should be of use to you all and is the most important news for us. We are just launching the new and greatly improved search engine and on-line ordering system. Having been fully immersed in its development for the last month or so, I’m pretty proud of it, but I know all too well that there are bound to be some residual bugs left in it. I can’t think of a more resourceful bunch of people to test it out than all of you, so if you get a chance please see if you can break it and/or spot any mistakes and tell me what extra facilities you’d like to see.
Our old system which has served well enough for the last couple of years just had our own stock on it, but the new one contains British Books in Print (about 1,000,000 titles) and the listings of Gardners, who are one of the largest wholesalers in the UK. This means that on-line customers can search for and order anything that is available in Britain (other than foreign imports), and of course the same secure credit card transfer system is in place as before. There is a new facility to store address and credit card details if requested, so you don’t have to go through a laborious process of inputting your details every time you use it, and there is also a currency conversion system so you don’t need to ask me what the exchange rates are 😉 It only gives US and French currency just now but we’ll have others in place shortly.
We’ve sunk quite a bit of money into this so we need to make sure it works well for our customers, so do let me know what you think.
One thing I should mention – if you search on “Dunnett” it will seem that the old Cassell UKP 5.95 paperbacks are still available. This is because they are still listed in Books in Print despite them being out of print for some years and Cassell not having the rights any more. We are instigating what we call a “zombie file” – a list of things that we know aren’t available but which still appear in BiP – so we can overcome this sort of problem, but it won’t be ready for about a week or two. Once we are sure the system is stable I’ll also be putting in “hot links” from the Dunnett page (and others) that will load titles straight into the ordering system without having to go through the search routines.
No “further adventures of a Dunnett reader” this time – I did start reading Niccolo Rising a while after I’d finished Checkmate, but the deadlines on the new system have meant I’ve been working most hours at home as well as here for the last month and haven’t got very far with it. Maybe when all this has quietened down I’ll get a holiday!
Stop Press – King Hereafter
A last minute snippett. I’ve been getting reports this morning that Vintage are to release a US edition of King Herafter in October. This is right out of the blue and I haven’t yet been able to confirm it, but it comes from a reliable source. I’ve been in touch with Michael Joseph this morning and, although it wasn’t easy to get details as their chief editior is on holiday, it looks as if they will be releasing a hardback edition in the UK – but not until the middle of 1999. More details as I get them.
The new Answers
Guzel and her fate
Q. Guzel chose to fly in the face of the Dame de Doubtance’s prophecies, believing she could alter destiny or make her own. Did she in fact, as was posited by one character, choose Vishnevetsky as a form of suicide? Did she see no other avenue of advancement, or was she – the idea which puzzles me most – emotionally involved for the first time and unable to cope? I understand that this character, unlike her friend Roxelana Sultan, was not based on a historical personage; where did she come from as an idea?
“I imagine she entered open-eyed into the relationship with Vishnevetsky, and might have won through. But as you say, by that time her fate was no longer important to her. I was attracted to exploring the avenues open to the courtesan of differing ranks in these days, from Primaflora to Diane de Poitier. Everyone has, of course noticed Vishnevetsky’s ancestor in Caprice? “
Any chance of another series?
Q. After you finish the Niccolo series, do you have plans to write another series?
“A series would, I think, be expecting too much of the geriatric-care industry. Another Dolly book maybe. “
Q. Have you ever been approached to make movie(s) from your books? Would you consider a movie or two?
“Yes, with no results so far. And yes, no problem over films or TV. But one of my husband’s books on the sea may come first. “
Q. Who is your favorite author?
“Different authors for different moods. I’m always adding new ones. When I’m working myself, none at all. “
Did the Geomalers really exist?
Q. I am interested in the terms “Geomaler” and “Pilgrims of Love,” such as the character Mikel in PAWN. Obviously these terms are Ms. Dunnett’s creation but they seem so familiar to me. Can she relate the historical basis, if any, for pilgrims?
Also from another questioner
No one can seem to find anything on the “Pilgrims of love.” I have spoken to several people now and searching has been futile. Are/were they real? If not, where did the idea come from. If they were real; can we have a little background, research info, etc.
This answer is not from Dorothy directly but is from information I’ve received and which is also mentioned in the Dorothy Dunnett Companion.
The Geolmalers did indeed exist and are mentioned in Nicholas de Nicholay’s “Navigations into Turkie”. They were essentially a religious cult who called themselves “Pilgrims of Love”. The following is an extract from part of de Nicholay’s description.
“The life of the Geomalers (to beginne first with them) is not much different from that of the worldly sort, for that the most part of them are fayre young men and of ryche houses, whiche willinglye doe giue themselues to runne about the countrie, and to trauel through many and diuers regions & prouinces, as through Barbarie, Egypt, Arabia, Persia, the Indies, and the whole land of Turkie, for to see and vnderstand the world with great pleasure at other mens charges, vnder colour of their pilgrimage and religion: the most parte of these are good artificers, & the other giuen to reading, & to describe all their voyages, the lands and countries which they haue runne through and trauailed.”
best wishes to you all