Newsletter – 28th June 99

Summer greeting from Edinburgh.

I hope you’ve all had a chance to look at the new-look Dunnett pages on the web site since the April newsletter and have enjoyed the new features. I’ve got a couple of new items to tell you about which have just been uploaded, more of which in a moment. Firstly let me deal with news that may well be very important to some of you.

Edinburgh Gathering 2000 Bookings

There is now an application form on the web site for the remaining places at the Edinburgh 2000 gathering. As most of you who are on one of the discussion groups or who receive the Whispering Gallery/Marzipan and Kisses magazines will know, announcement of booking details was made in the most recent issue, but the initial bookings were restricted to magazine subscribers. Any places left are open to everyone else from the 1st of July, and the organisers have asked me if I would make a copy of the booking form available to you all to be used for applications. I was happy to agree to this and the form is available on a pair of links from the main Dunnett page (www.jamesthin.co.uk/dunnett.htm) There is one version in Word6/95 format and one in plain text.
The form should be printed out and applications made by post with the relevant deposit.
I should stress that the inclusion of the form is purely in order to help everyone concerned and that neither I nor James Thin Ltd are involved in the organisation of the conference other than as the booksellers there, and I have no further information than what is presented here and on the form, so any booking enquiries should be made to Travel Scotland.

New DD Portrait on the main page

Dorothy recently supplied me with a copy of a fine new portrait which I believe was taken on her trip to Cyprus last year to promote the Italian editions of Niccolo. I plan to set up a gallery page with some of the older photos and some that have been sent to me by fans, so if you have any that you would like to have included do get in touch.

More “Answers from Dorothy”

To return to normal news matters I’ve added some more answers to the “Questions to Dorothy” page and also include them here below. They include the often discussed question of who was in the tent with Oonagh, and a couple more responses to Heike Meyer’s detailed questions about King Hereafter.
If you have any questions that haven’t already been covered (and don’t require the revelation of some key plot point in Niccolo), do drop me a message with them.

The Seraglio Chess Game

I’ve also put up a new feature in which I’ve reconstructed the first part of the Gabriel-Lymond chess game from Pawn in Frankincense. You really need to have some understanding of chess to get much out of it but I hope it may be interesting for those of you who do.

Still no word on the title of Niccolo 8 but it looks as if the March 2000 date for publication is likely to be correct. More news as soon as I get it.
For any of you who like to hear news of Scottish books and publishing events I should perhaps mention the new Scottish Books Newsletter and the associated “Capital Letters” feature on the website which I’ve recently started. If you’d like to be added to the list for this there is a subscription button on the Scottish Books page which works the same way as the Dunnett subscription button, or just drop me a message.
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New answers uploaded June 99

Musical Preferences?

Q. Music features heavily in parts of both series – what are your favourite pieces and particularly do you have any favourite vocal pieces?

A “Haven’t yet allowed myself the luxury of classifying the period music. I need something knock on the head emotional as a writing accompaniment. Wagner, often.”

The Event in the Tent – who was it?

Q. Is it really Francis or Gabriel in the tent with Oonagh? In PF, who is the “Unbeliever” who visits Oonagh in her tent and makes love to her? Some of us believe, like Oonagh, that it is Francis. Others believe Dragut when he later tells Oonagh it could not have been Francis, and that therefore it was Gabriel. She seems to believe Dragut, and on this side of the argument, the author did tell us after their first love scene (in QP) that this was the first and last time Francis and Oonagh would make love. Some say this was an act uncharacteristic of Francis but very characteristic of Gabriel; others feel that had it been Gabriel, he would later have taunted Francis with this and he never does. How could Oonagh not know the difference between Francis and Gabriel – even in the dark – when they are physically so different? So who is right?

A “Advice: when you hit a puzzle, it often doesn’t work to analyse the scene in isolation. That way, you can probably find as many cogent arguments on one side as the other. What is ideal – and God forbid that I should expect you to re-read more than you want to – is to have the whole series fresh in your mind, including all the history of these characters, both on their own and in their relations with one another. These little episodes are ways of asking you to stop and think again about people in the light of the story’s overall themes, which have a lot to do with arrogance and responsibility, and very little to do with sentiment. Finally, an authorial voice is an authorial voice. Believe it.”

King Hereafter – Lulach’s utterances

Two more in the series of King Hereafter questions from Heike Meyer

Q. In p 1, ch. 18 Lulach says: ‘There was a king who got a child on the miller’s daughter of Forteviot.’ And after Sulien asks‚ ‘the same king?’, he answers ‘His name was Henry’. Is this a reference to some story mentioned by Henry of Huntingdon? Or to a poem or ballad concerning two standard characters of folk-lore, the king and the miller’s daughter? We discovered quite a few ballads, but none connected with Forteviot.

A. “The King of Alba who ‘murdered his uncle and married his uncle’s widow’ was Macbeth, according to a history written 400 years after Macbeth’s time by Andrew of Wyntoun, who professed to think that Macbeth was King Duncan’s nephew. (According to my theory, the king who married his slaughtered uncle’s widow was Malcolm). Wyntoun was also the sole source of the miller’s daughter story, which had King Duncan (who had two lawful sons), begetting a bastard on the miller’s daughter of Forteviot. This son supposedly grew up to be King Malcolm III, founding a line of Kings and even a Pope (named by Wintoun) ‘all descended from this one humble miller’. A dangerous premise for a court historian, you would think, except that in early times, a man of illegitimate descent could become a King (or a Pope), whereas, by the time Wyntoun was writing, a King born of nephew/aunt incest was a big no-no. So the miller’s story could have been necessary because Wyntoun knew that Malcolm married Macbeth’s widow. All subsequent historians ignored the miller.
The reference to Henry and another variety of miller relates I think to King Henry I and his mistress, a real situation which might have coloured Wyntoun’s little scenario. “

Q. In p. 3, ch.13, Thorfinn and Alfgar discuss Robert le Bourguignon. And T. adds: ‘Lulach says that because of a nephew and a great-grandson of Robert the Burgundian there sprang a new line of kings for England and Scotia, and some love songs.[…] Because of Robert’s great-nephew, the seats of Lulach’s descendants were occupied by Jerusalem, although against the monks of Loch Leven, even Jerusalem failed.’

Now we’ve been searching our heads off for suitable relatives of Robert’s, who e.g. supported the Anjou-Plantagenets in their struggle for power. The poet and crusader Maurice de Craon, the supporter of King Henry II, could be the great-grandson, and some members of the Nevers and Semur families provide the nephew and great-nephew, but which of them are meant? Someone suggested that Robert the Burgundian is no reference to Robert de Nevers, surnamed‚ Le Bourguignon, but to his uncle Robert, Duke of Burgundy (which would make William the Conqueror his nephew by marriage and Guillaume d’Aquitaine his great-grandson). Can you help us?

And what is meant by the Jerusalem reference? A religious order like the Templars or the Hospitallers, which had its roots in the Holy Land? We discovered that the Culdees of Loch Leven were still there when the Culdee movement as a whole had already vanished (actually we found this in an article about medieval cheese-making – obviously they payed their taxes to the king partly with cheeses!), but in the 14th century St. Serf’s seems to have been also a Augustine priory. But we couldn’t find anything to connect the Augustines with Jerusalem. Or is it a reference to the growing influence of the English (and one of the Plantagenet’s ancestors was king of Jerusalem, at least)?

A. “I seem to remember infinite numbers of Robert le Bourguignons, all of them a pest. They do, however, constitute a wonderful invisible link to Scotland.. The charters for these families are good and only have to be analysed (in their hundreds). If I’ve mixed up the Roberts, let me know next year (!), but in this instance, it doesn’t affect the point Lulach was making. As you suggest, the poet Maurice de Craon was the song-maker. The first R de B I’m concerned with, went to the Holy Land and died, 1098. His son, Robert le B de Sable, died by 1110. A surviving son, Rainald le B, swapped Sable for Craon. Rainald’s son, R le B of Craon (Palestine 1138/48) was Grand Master of the Order of Knights Templar, (founded just before David became King of Scotland, and later replaced by the Knights Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem). About 1128 the monks of the monastery of St Serfs in what is now Fife, Scotland, successfully lodged a complaint against R le B, seigneur de Sable who had taken a bit of their land of Kirkness. This was formerly royal land, and Lulach’s heritage, (as were Mar and Moray, in which the Templars would also hold land). In 1145 King David gave St Serfs into the keeping of the canons of St Andrews.
And lastly, R de B of Sable (d by 1110) was a cousin by marriage of Alan FitzFlaald (Fleance), whose family formed the link between the Archbishopric of Dol and their stewards who came from Brittany to Scotland, and by marrying into the Bruces, gave rise to the Stewart kings of Scotland and England.”

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That’s all for now
Best wishes to you all

Bill

Newsletter – 23rd April 99

Spring Greetings from Edinburgh where the longer clearer days have been frequently accompanied by cold snaps and the odd snow and hail shower in addition to the usual April showers.

The main purpose of this issue of the newsletter is to inform you about the changes to the Dunnett web pages which I’ve just uploaded. As the main page was getting a bit long and overloaded with graphics, I’ve split everything up into different sections which should make things easier to view, and the pages have a new look.

BOOK NEWS, BIBLIOGRAPHY, and the BOOK COVERS have all moved to separate pages which makes things a little quicker on the main page and allows me to introduce some more decoration. All have been updated of course and I’ve done fresh scans of the covers. The PAST NEWS items also now have a place of their own for people who want to review the older stuff or catch up with things.

There are quite a few new Answers on the QUESTIONS TO DOROTHY section after DD kindly took time out from her Niccolo 8 writing to catch up with the backlog of questions which has been accumulating over the last few months. These are the first of the batch – there are a number of others in the pipeline that I’ll add in over the next few weeks. That whole feature has now been divided into General, Lymond, and Niccolo sections, and as quite a lot of the new questions/answers are on King Hereafter I’ll be adding that section the next time round.

The DUNNETT PLACES TO VISIT feature has been improved with some expanded descriptions and a new section on the Orkney Isles. I’m gradually adding new photographs where possible too.

Another entirely new section is the page on SCOTS PRONUNCIATIONS AND MEANINGS which includes audio files for the most commonly disputed pronunciations and looks at the derivation of some of the standard Scots personal and place-names. I’m quite pleased to have unearthed some interesting stuff there – have a look at the entry for Semple for instance – and am looking forward to more digging.
Please let me know if I’ve missed any names that you want to hear or understand the origins of, and I’ll try to include them in subsequent revisions. For the moment I’m sticking to the Scottish names, as that is obviously the area I’m most familiar with, but if I can do enough research to be confident with the foreign names I may include them later. (Being an appallingly bad linguist I may need Dorothy’s help here! 😉 )

Yet another new section is the MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS page. It was inspired by the recent acquisition by our Mercat Press division of a number of books previously published by the Stationery Office including one very good one on Mary. It looks at Mary’s early life and her relations who we see in Queens’ Play and Checkmate. I plan to develop this further if there is sufficient interest.

Finally there’s a lighter note with a CASTING page for that film we all keep talking about! 😉

Book News

For those of you who aren’t yet aware of them, the new UK Penguin editions of Lymond are mostly now available, and the new US Vintage editions of Niccolo have started to appear with the first three now being available. Full details are on the web page bibliography.

Personal Appearances

For anyone who is likely to be in Edinburgh in August, Dorothy will once again be appearing at the Edinburgh Book Festival, and this time is bringing along her editor – Richenda Todd.
It’s on Saturday 14th August 5pm at the Post Office Theatre. They’ll be discussing the problems of writing a long historical series i.e. historical accuracy, overlapping of events, consistency of events and characters, and they’ll be covering both series of books. If anyone should know the difficulties inherent in that subject it must be her!!

Below is the text of the new Answers, but do have a look at the new layout of the web pages and let me have your opinions.

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New answers uploaded April 99

Where did you find your research material for King Hereafter?

Q. I would like to ask Mrs. Dunnett how long it took her to research and where did she find all of the wonderful history for King Hereafter.

A “A detailed answer would hold up Niccolo 8 for a month (my reading list alone was 700 books long).
Briefly(!):
1975, Day 1, contract to write the first properly researched historical novel on the real Macbeth, on which there is ample academic material. (younger son then aged 11).

Day 2 (virtually), discover the academic material is mostly ancient and full of gaps, the exception being the deconstruction of Shakespeare, which is popular and has been well and accurately tackled.

Day 3, sort out which few areas have been updated, mostly in monograph form, and verify from the universities that absolutely no historical department is currently re-examining this period.

Day 4, resign myself to collecting and analysing primary material, as soon as I have read through and noted the secondaries. This included sources (including foreign ones) for info on the Celts, the Picts, the Vikings, the Anglo-Saxons, on current laws and customs on marriage, fostering, bastardy, kingship, on the detailed politics of surrounding countries, on biographies of individuals such as
Canute, Emma, PopeLeo, etc. etc. Also early charters, monastic annals, fragments of early poetry (plus linguistic studies), the Icelandic sagas, saints’ lives, early histories written under the Stewarts, and a lot about the Norman Conquest (plus Norman and Breton charters) to identify the Normans who fled to Macbeth. Also everything relevant in archaeology.

Lovely discoveries about the Archbishop of Dol. Travel, including visits to Rome, Goslar, Vienna, Brittany, Normandy, the Celtic Library at Harvard and all relevant places in the UK, including many visits to Orkney, collecting published material and looking at buildings and museums. Compilation incidentally of 145 interlocking European family trees, laid out in miniscule writing on a piece of
wallpaper 20 feet long.

Discovery that the story still didn’t make sense. Awful dawning realisation that it did make sense if Thorfinn and Macbeth were not half-brothers but the same person. Grinding of teeth (original research is not a good idea for a novelist). Decision (courtesy of my publishers) to continue researching, and in particular track to its source every accepted fact that contradicted this theory.

By the end of 1979, evident to me that the Thorfinn/Macbeth case was stronger than any other, and the investigation was now academically viable. Moment of truth; continue for ten years and exhaust all the lines of research? Take another year, and publish the case as it then stood as non-fiction? Or write, with the facts I then had, the novel I had been contracted to write in 1975? I chose to write the novel, beginning in January 1980 and finishing in March 1981 (younger son now aged nearly 17 and forgiving). The rest, as they say is history…..”

How is Gelis pronounced

Q. One thing I would like to ask Dorothy Dunnett is whether Gelis is pronounced JEALOUS…

A “I’ve never discovered. It’s short for Egidia. I usually try to avoid ‘Jealous’ and try for ‘Jailees’.”

Extra comment from Bill Marshall: I recently came across an entry in a listing of Scots names which gave Egidia as the feminine form of Giles (as in St. Giles). See the web site Pronunciation/Meaning section for further details.

What were your early readings and did they inspire you?

Q. Did she read Quentin Durward (Scott) and The White Company (Arthur Conan Doyle) when she was young? Did they in any way inspire, influence, or direct her imagination?

A “Can’t remember reading The White Company, but my school went in for Walter Scott in a really big way. I once amused Sir Walter’s charming g-g-many g’s-granddaughter by remarking brashly that the books were all right so long as you skipped the first forty pages. They weren’t in the forefront of my memory when I started to write, but everything one has read forms source material, I’m quite sure. I didn’t even realise until recently what a magnificent researcher he was.”

Any influence from Kristin Lavernsdatter

Q. After reading and re-reading King Hereafter I wondered if Dorothy Dunnett had been influenced by Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavernsdatter. Kristin appears to take place about two generations after King Hereafter. It is almost like the gap between Nicholas and Lymond. Naturally, Undset and Dunnett take a different tack in their books but they both present intricate characters.

A “They are wonderful books. I’d never heard of them, much to the shock of two readers – Judy Amory and her husband from Harvard – who promptly repaired my ignorance by sending me the whole trilogy. That probably pre-dated King Hereafter, but my work for that was so different that I don’t recall even thinking about Undset.”

King Hereafter

The first in a series of King Hereafter questions from Heike Meyer

Q. In p 1, ch. 18, Lulach utters something strange. He says ‘One cold winter, the ink froze at Fulda.’ Thorfinn later remembers this when Archbishop Adalbert asks him ‘who interprets your dreams ?’ We couldn’t make head or tail of this, so could you please help ?

A My notes would take weeks to sort out, so this is simply from summaries or from memory and not to be trusted:

As you have probably worked out, Lulach, poor guy, is the many-tongued voice of History, which you can’t trust either. Everything he says directs attention to something uncommon relating to the history of Scotland. I wanted to show that – although the novel should be enjoyed as pure historical romance – there is a serious basis for the new theories about Scotland it posits, and that here, in the gap between the real events and the Shakespeare play, is a classic example of how and why history comes to be distorted. Failing academic footnotes and appendices, which would have been ridiculous, it seemed appropriate to put some of the evidence in the mouth of Lulach the Fool, who bore the name of the prophetic Wild Man of Irish and Welsh history. The Havamal quotation which prefaces the novel is black irony.

Part 1, chapter 18: everything that Lulach says on this page relates to evidence for Macbeth’s real story. There was a King of Alba went to Rome. This was Macbeth. How do we know? Because an Irish monk called Marianus Scotus (born 1028) sat in a monastery at Fulda in Germany and recorded it: 1050 – Rex Scottiae Macbethad Romae argentum pauperibus seminando distribuit. (in MGH). But how could Macbeth afford to scatter gold like seed to the poor? How could he afford to take a king’s escort from Scotland to Rome and back, with all the rich gifts he would have to donate? Answer (mine): Macbeth couldn’t, but Thorfinn with his tributes and shipping trade could.

The frozen ink reference (real) was a pointer to anyone interested that the writings of Marianus Scotus in Fulda would provide food for thought. (The second time, it crops up because Thorfinn is reflecting that Lulach is his dream – not to mention nightmare -interpreter). The monks incidentally were always mumping about the weather: 1047: Nix in occidente in tantum ut silvasfregisset. Another monastic record supplied the information about the six-day hurricane in December 1052 which I described in a scene with Thorfinn in Orkney.

Hope that’s enough to keep you all going for a while longer as you wait for Niccolo 8 😉
I’ll add some more answers in a few weeks.

Best wishes

Bill

Newsletter – 9th Jan 99

New Year Greetings from Edinburgh!

Niccolo 8

There hadn’t been much recent news until this week so this newsletter is a rather rush job.
It’s main purpose is to confirm what many of you will already have guessed – that Niccolo 8 will be a little later than originally planned. As most of you will know it would normally have been Nov 1999 – all the recent Niccolos have been November in the odd numbered years – but given the tragic events of Sept it was always likely that it would be delayed. At the moment the best guess is that it will be published around the end of March 2000, but this date is by no means cast in stone. There is no word yet of the title – Michael Joseph don’t know it yet so it looks as if Dorothy is teasing us a little longer.

Orders for it – not yet.

Can I stress again that I will announce when we can take orders for it, but that we can’t take them at the moment as Michael Joseph can’t. Any attempt to hold such orders outwith the computer systems that are intended for the purpose would be fraught with potential for mistakes, while if we put them on the system it would be almost inevitable that an order would be sent to Michael Joseph prematurely and that would disappear into a black hole. So please wait until the title is decided and the systems are ready for it.

New commemorative editions of Niccolo planned

There will be another new UK edition of all the Niccolos to commemorate the finishing of the series. They will be in the “B” paperback format and will have more elaborate covers than the current small format Penguin editions. They are likely to come out in two lots – the first 4 in Jan 2000 and the next 3 in March 2000. I’ll give you further details when they become available.

The new Penguin Lymonds

The new Penguin editions of Lymond will be out very shortly – Ringed Castle should be this month and the others should follow in Feb and March. I’m told they have been reset (presumably rather than just reduced from the other editions) so they should be easy on the eye for reading, and they are priced at UKP 7.99 Details for most of them (apart from Pawn in Frankincense which will probably be last out) are on the web site with hotlinks for anyone who wants to order them.
The Michael Joseph trade editions are gradually disappearing as the Penguins come in. We still have copies of some of them – particularly Checkmate which is otherwise now out of print – but supplies will dry up over the next few weeks.

King Hereafter

As hoped we have been able to obtain copies of the US Vintage edition of King Hereafter, so if any of you that are outside the US would like a copy please get in touch. At the current exchange rate we’re selling it at UKP 9.65

Confessions of a Dunnett Reader

I’m half way through Race of Scorpions at the moment but there is never enough time for reading. Spring of the Ram was a fascinating look at the dying embers of the Byzantine world, and has also got me much more interested in the politics and history of the Mediterranean area.
So often the history books fail to give a real perspective on trade and war in these times and you are left trying to see it through modern eyes and ideas. So much depended on a single ship getting through with its cargo or a single engagement by relatively small armies. And how often have we looked at a flat military plan with it’s arrows pointing in all directions but failed to grasp the true significance of the lie of the land, the supply routes, the weather, the politics and internal jostling. Dorothy somehow brings this all to life in a way that seems beyond the dry textbooks (and all other authors).

It has been fascinating to watch Nicholas grow, and the changing opinions of his friends as he does so. At the moment it is easier to identify with him in the hero role – though perhaps not to the extent that you can with Lymond – but his mistakes are either forgiveable in one of his age and experience or are a natural consequence of the conflicts he is set within. (Of course I’m aware that this identification will probably not be so easy in the later books when his motives and morality will be more called into question)

I find myself becoming a little exasperated with Tobie’s attitude at the moment – he seems to have impossibly high ideals and is all too ready to criticise when Nicholas fails to meet them. Yes, there is the same unwillingness to explain himself that Lymond suffers from, but I find myself thinking that someone of Tobie’s intelligence should be seeing and understanding more than he does.

It’s probably a bit soon yet to give an opinion on most of the bigger questions that have so far turned up – but maybe on some of them.
Did he love Marion? Yes I’m pretty sure he did. Maybe the nature of it changed a bit but he seems very genuine in it.
Did he deliberately sink the cannon? Hmm, I’m doubtful about that unless he was even more precocious than he seems and there was a very deep motive involving others plotting in Scotland.
Did he engineer Felix death? No, I can’t see any evidence of that.

There are of course lots of questions, but I need to read more and then examine my instinctive reaction before posing them.

Quick General Summary for new subscribers

This last bit can be skipped by all the old hands. There are however lots of new people coming on board all the time, or people reading this via one of the discussion groups without having seen the web page, who may not know the things the rest take for granted.
I produce this newsletter as part of my work for James Thin Ltd, the 150 year old Edinburgh bookseller. We have long had a close relationship with Dorothy as one of our principle local authors, and for a long time have had many overseas Dunnett customers who order the books from us. The new UK titles are normally published about 7-8 months earlier than the US editions and of course everyone always wanted the books as soon as they could get them. For a long time we had run a conventional mailing list for notification to all these people (indeed we still do for those that are not on email) and Dorothy signs all the books before we send them out.

I set up our first email connection just over 4 years ago and by chance I was asked by Douglas Brown of our Mail Order Dept, who ran the mailing list, to reply to a Dunnett customer who had mentioned her email address in a letter, and from there I suddenly started to get email from other net connected fans. The numbers grew quickly and the first announcement of To Lie With Lions was made by email as well as letter, and when I set up the web site a few months later a Dunnett page was an obvious item for inclusion. It quickly became our most popular page and has remained so despite many advances in the site. If you haven’t seen the page then go to
http://www.jamesthin.co.uk/
for the full framed version and follow the button links for “Scottish” and “Scottish Authors”, (or “Fiction” and “Historical Fiction”) or go directly to
http://www.jamesthin.co.uk/dunnett.htm
for the Dunnett page without the navigation frame.

Most of the routine questions that are often asked are answered on this page and over the years I’ve added a number of other items such as “Questions to Dorothy” and “Dunnett Places to Visit”. You can even see a horoscope for Francis Crawford!
The book availablility lists are always kept as current as possible and there are hotlinks from the book ISBNs into our BookSearch enquiry/ordering system so it’s easy to order them. This system is fully secure for credit card transactions, so you need have no worries about ordering from overseas.

You should be aware that if you want books quickly and are on a different continent from us, then airmail, while expensive, is the best choice. Surface mail to the US and Canada takes between 5 and 8 weeks, and to Australia and the Far East can take 3 months or more. Even airmail isn’t always as fast as you would think – I’ve known cases of books being held up in US Customs and taking 18 days to reach their destination – but is usually only a few days. The vast majority of the orders for new titles as they first appear specify airmail – and those that initially say surface mail often change their minds 😉

From a figure of roughly 120 or so advance orders for Unicorn Hunt we moved to over 200 for TLWL with many more email orders quickly following. Caprice and Rondo was over 400 advance orders and the figure was nearer 600 within a couple of months of it being published, so you can imagine it has become a logistical nightmare to try to get them out as quickly as possible. Hopefully this may be a little easier with Niccolo 8 since it now won’t be in the very busy November period when we are also dealing with a lot of academic orders, and when the postal system is already starting to suffer from the Xmas rush. Of course how quickly Dorothy can sign 600 or so copies is another matter!

In case it’s not obvious I long since stopped regarding this as “real work” and it became a labour of love. Having met Dorothy a number of times and been captivated by her charm, intelligence and sense of humour, I started reading the books properly myself and am now as much a fan as the rest of you. Sometimes it’s hard to know where work stops and discussion begins, but usually if I post from my bill.marshall@jthin.co.uk address then I’m talking business, while if I’m using my personal account on cableinet which I use to participate in the discussion groups then I’m talking as a fan. Though sometimes it can get a bit blurry! 😉

You’re always welcome to contact me if you have any questions that I can help with.

Best wishes to old and new readers alike

Bill

Newsletter – 30th Oct 98

(This should have gone out yesterday just before the copies were sent to the discussion groups but a software problem meant the server didn’t appear to accept them. I don’t think there’ll be duplicates but apologies if there are any.)

Greeting from a cold wet and stormy Scotland – whatever happened to “mists and mellow fruitfulness” in the Autumn?

Didn’t expect to be doing another newsletter quite so soon but have just had word of a number of new editions of various books that you’ll be interested in.

The UK ones first of all:

Caprice and Rondo is coming out in Penguin paperback on the 3rd December – ISBN 0140252304 Price UKP 7.99
I’ve been trying to find out from the editor whether it will match the first 5 in the series or the odd-one-out TLWL but no luck getting hold of her as yet.

The Lymond Chronicles are also coming out in Penguin paperback – starting with Ringed Castle on 28th January 99 (014027989X UKP 7.99) This is probably because the trade paperback of RC is out of print and they wanted to get a replacement available. The rest of the schedule reverts to the correct order with Game of Kings (0140282394 UKP 7.99) and Queens’ Play (0140282408 UKP 7.99) coming next at the end of February, and Disorderly Knights (0140282459 UKP 7.99) at the end of March. Incidently the trade paperback of Checkmate is also now out of print but there are still a fair number of copies around of it.

Moving to the US:

The rumoured Vintage paperback editions of Niccolo seems to be confirmed now. Niccolo Rising and Spring of the Ram are both scheduled for May 99 according to US Books in Print. There is also a suspicious entry for Race of Scorpions for February 99 but I’d be very surprised if that is true as it wouldn’t make sense to bring out the 3rd volume ahead of the first two like that. Maybe it’s really Feb 2000 and they’ve been hit by the millenium bug 😉 I’ll try and find out more although it’s never easy getting info from the US side. If anyone has any contacts at Random House you could maybe do some digging and let me know what turns up.

Some strange anomalies in Books in Print

It’s amazing how often databases get mixed up and often generate strange rumours. This month’s Books in Print on both sides of the Atlantic had me doing some chasing around in the last couple of days. In the British version I first noticed that the entries for the old Arrow editions of Lymond finally had Out of Print against them (only a few years late!!) – good I thought, we’re making progress at last. Then I noticed that the dates against the prices quoted on their old editions of Moroccan Traffic and Tropical Issue – which have also remained listed – had been updated to 9/98. Since they’ve been unavailable for a couple of years that didn’t make sense so I had to phone them up and confirm that they really hadn’t reprinted them and they had no plans to. I’m still not sure if they even still have the rights to the JJ series or whether they have reverted to Dorothy herself. I plan to ask her next time I’m in touch as it will be important as regards who, if anyone, publishes the final JJ that she plans to write after Niccolo 8 is finished. I don’t think Michael Joseph have picked up the rights but they may have an option to do so.

I also solved a puzzle that one of the discussion group members spotted recently when she noticed that Amazon were advertizing an untitled Dunnett “Novella” due out in 1999. I managed to trace that to Arrow/Hutchinson as well and phoned them again. Puzzled sounds from the other end of the line as the girl tried to work out how to pronounce novella and then how a hardback could be 6.99 and then finally turned up the fact that the title had been cancelled. I suspect that this may have been an old entry in the Arrow schedule that was long ago intended for a JJ book but was dumped when Dorothy moved her historical fiction titles to Michael Joseph.
Oh yes, if you want another good laugh at daft data look up Amazon again and you’ll find an entry for a 1994 hardback Unicorn Hunt marked “not yet published”! You’ll also notice that according to them Judith Wilt co-authored Caprice and Rondo!

Other strange goings on in British Books in Print – the hardbacks of Niccolo Rising and To Lie with Lions, which haven’t been available for quite some time, suddenly made a reappearance as being supposedly in print. Complete rubbish of course as a call to Michael Joseph soon confirmed.

Just to prove that they weren’t to be left out, US Books in Print have suddenly got a listing for a trade cloth edition of Send a Fax to the Kasbah (spelled Kashbah) published by Harcourt Brace in 1992. Strangely enough they don’t quote a price!! 😉

However I think we may have solved the mystery of the Amereon and Buccaneer editions that very few people could ever find in the US. A couple of their editions now have the Bowker Class “Large Type Books” against them, so they may in fact be Large Print editions for people with impaired eyesight – or it could be just Books in Print talking nonsense again! 😉

So, as I said to someone on one of the lists recently – trust our Dunnett web pages rather than anyone else’s search system – at least they’ve had human intervention in their creation 😉

On the subject of the web pages, with all the work on the search engine I’ve been forced over the last few months to neglect the Dunnett pages a little compared to the previous continual updates and new features, and of course as they’ve grown it’s become harder to drop in revisions without rewriting half the text. I also wasn’t sure what to do about including a tribute to Alastair. I’ve just added all the news mentioned above and rearranged things a little, but they really need a complete redesign. So if you see some odd changes back and forth in the next few weeks it’ll probably be me experimenting with different layouts. I still try to keep them as accessible to all browsers as possible, but it’s getting harder to do that and still have any sort of modern look and feel to them. If you’ve any strong views on this let me know.
Recently quite a few of you have been talking about Patrick O’Brien – the historical nautical writer, so I’m planning to put up a page about his books shortly. A complete rewrite of the Science Fiction pages is also long overdue. Looks like I’m going to be busy for a while longer!

Between work and the beginning of the chess season I haven’t been able to read any more of Spring of the Ram since the last newsletter so no “Confession of a Dunnett Reader” this time.

One more item that some of you may be interested in. Bob Gordon has asked me if we would be able to carry his calendar – The Book of Fictional Days – for 1999. This is a ring-bound book-style calendar which “records when things that did not happen occurred”. He’s collected the identifiable dates from a great many fictional books and films and songs and made them into a literary calendar. Naturally there are some entries from our favourite author. Would any of you be interested in this? If you would, get back to me and I’ll get in touch with Bob about taking some.

best wishes to you all

Bill