Newsletter – 21st October ’97

Greetings from a congested Edinburgh – about to be surrounded by politicians for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference, for which they’ve closed most of the city centre roads for security purposes!!

The Dunnett Tour of the US

I know that many of you have managed to see Dorothy in the first half of her author tour for the Vintage editions of Lymond. The reports I’m getting have been of packed bookshops, enthralled audiences and very happy booksellers and publishers! I spoke to Dorothy yesterday and she was overwhelmed at the reception she’s had and despite knowing already how keen you all are she was astonished at the enthusiasm and warmth shown. Someone apparently drove 800 miles to see her!! She was very touched by it all and sends her thanks.

Dunnett Companion

Firstly the situation with the Companion is that from the batch that I got hold of from the remainder merchants in England we were able to supply all of the people who had outstanding orders at the time of the last newsletter and a few of the new orders that were sent after it, but a number of people are still on the waiting list. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to answer all the requests individually as yet – there were just too many to get round and I didn’t know exactly how many copies I would have available until very recently because a couple of people who had requested multiple copies had changed email addresses. It turned out that they had managed to get copies from Duthies in Canada so fortunately I was able to supply more new orders than I originally expected.
Duthies have now told me that they cannot obtain any more so the only possibility is if I manage to get any more from the remainder people over here. If I have any luck then I’ll be in touch with those on the waiting list straight away. If you haven’t heard from me yet then I’m afraid you were unsuccessful for the moment, but I’ll try and message you all individually as soon as I can.

Quite a number of messages were sent to me at incorrect addresses and had to be salvaged in the error-trapping account that I have. This meant I had to jump between accounts cross-comparing message dates to make sure that orders were serviced in the correct order so I’m afraid that took rather longer than expected too. It looks as if the wrong address somehow got passed round as a lot of them were the same, so can you all please check that your address books have the correct one:
bill.marshall@jthin.co.uk
and at the same time that your entries for our order and enquiries (which Craig handles) are set to either
enquiries@jthin.co.uk
or
orders@jthin.co.uk
and not to the old almac.co.uk address.

Caprice and Rondo

Now on to what you are all waiting for!!
I’ve been in touch with Michael Joseph and have persuaded them to give us advance delivery of C&R so that we can get the processing under way and get them signed by Dorothy as soon as possible. We have over 360 orders already – the vast majority of them to go airmail – which is almost twice as many as we had of To Lie with Lions, so you can imagine what a mammoth task it is going to be to get these out to you. Of course Dorothy is due to fly back to the US on the second part of her author tour on Saturday so how much signing can be done before that depends on when the books arrive. Keep your fingers crossed 😉
Official publication date is still the 6th November (although the first author event – in Nottingham of all places – is actually on the 5th) so technically we shouldn’t send out the UK copies until then anyway. However if you don’t tell then neither will we 😉 (and remembering how slow the post office were the last time it probably won’t make any difference anyway :-/ )

A small appeal
I know that you are all desperate to get the books and/or to double check your orders etc. but please try to be patient and let us get on with processing them. If everyone emails me now there is not an earthly chance of me answering you all individually, and trying to check which items have gone as we do them will only slow things down. Unless you have a really concrete problem or need to place a new order please don’t email me for the moment. I’ll keep everyone up to date with bulletins on how things are going. Should any copies go astray in the post or get damaged in transit we will of course send replacements, but the best way to keep track of things and know where we are, is to take care at the despatch stage rather than trying to rush it.
Thanks, we’ll do our very best to get them to you quickly and efficiently.

As yet there is no sign of the UK paperback edition of Ringed Castle which is also due this month. We have however been informed that publication of Checkmate has been delayed and won’t now appear until around April next year. So far I haven’t had an explanation of this. Anyone who has ordered it from us can certainly cancel their order if this is too late for them. We seem to be able to get the Vintage editions quite readily via a specialist US importer so anyone based outside of the americas can always get these from us if they wish.
UK author events so far arranged are as follows:

Wednesday 5th November
2pm ‘Off The Page’, Nottingham Central Library, Angel Row,
Nottingham
Contact: Lyn Turner Tel: 0115 985 4242

7pm Event at Waterstone’s Leeds
Tel: 0113 2444588

Tuesday 11th November
6.30pm Evening event at John Smith, Glasgow
Tel: 0141 221 7472

Wednesday 12th November

7pm Event at James Thin, South Bridge, Edinburgh
Tel: 0131 556 6743

Wednesday 3rd December
Evening event for Cawdor Book Services
At: Dunfermline Central Library, 1 Abbott Street,
Dunfermline, Fife
Tel: 0141 766 1000
Finally, I promised some of you I would give you my own reactions to reading the first two Lymonds.
Anyone else who isn’t interested can stop here!!
Haven’t had time to really sit down and think about this properly but here goes. First of all I enjoyed them immensly and as some of you predicted I was soon sucked in to forgetting about minor things like eating and sleeping 😉 I think my wife Fiona was pretty astonished because I don’t read much fiction since I find most of it pretty shallow, and I’ve never really enjoyed historical fiction from most other authors since I was a teenager.

I’ve heard one or two people on the usenet historical fiction group say that they found Game of Kings hard going at first or sometimes harder than some of the later books, and I can understand why although I was ok with it myself once I got used to the fact that I was really going to have to think as I read. Certainly my Scottish historical and geographical background was a great help although I did occasionally curse our habit of having lots of people with similar names! (Far too many Margarets for a start!!) Once the ground had been laid Francis emerged as a fascinating figure and very attractive to both sexes. My only slight quibble was how anyone could possibly be that well educated and experienced in so many things at such an early stage in his life, but that was soon forgotten. Sybilla is likewise a wonderful character but initially Richard seemed dull and predictable. Only later did he start to grow on me and I realised that while I might like to think of myself in Francis’ place I’m really much more like Richard in reality. The transformation of his attitude after the sworfight and shooting was startling.

The amnesia episode still leaves me wondering a little bit, and I’m told that many new readers go off the rails there. Christian Stewart was a lovely character and I was sad indeed when I realised that she would be unlikely to survive. But then it looks as if her death is quite an influence on Francis’ developement so perhaps it was inevitable.
It was hardly surprising given Dorothy’s reputation for historical accuracy that the episode of the young Queen Mary’s short visit to the priory at Menteith was confirmed in a radio program that I heard shortly after reading it.
The first meeting with the young Philippa was a harrowing way to start a long term relationship and laid so many possibilities for the future. I must confess the ending was something of a surprise in the dramatic slowing of the tempo during the courtroom scenes but tension was palpable and the card playing twist from the games Will Scott had played with Jonathan Crouch was masterly.

Queens’ Play had quite a different feel to it, though perhaps that is inevitable given the setting. The pace seemed faster despite the descriptions being necessarily more lavish. The rooftop race scene was positively breathless of course.
I’d be fascinated to know how many people spotted the twist of the Keeper of the Royal Menagerie. Being Scottish the name Abernaci rang alarm bells immediately – well, almost immediately, the knife throwing/ink bottle scene was doubtless there to distract us 😉 Of course it coming not long after the initial puzzle of which of the Irish party was actually Lymond was sneaky too!
I laughed out loud helplessly when the Frenchman mentioned “Ue” the elephant, and got a few funny looks from the people sitting quietly drinking outside the hotel in Slovenia where I was reading it :-)

Robin Stewart being the would-be assasin was rather more of a surprise though perhaps I should have been expecting it by then – the hunting cheetah scene had put me off the scent I think. Thady Boy Ballagh was a wonderful invention with which to entwine the hero, with all the contradictions of debauched excess and chivalrous brinkmanship inescapeably intertwined.
The ending was again unexpected, but in some ways perhaps even more subtle than its predecessor in the disgrace of d’Aubigny and the interplay with Mary of Guise. A satisfying conclusion. It’s a good place to pause and draw breath before continuing with Disorderly Knights. Looking back, so much has faded from concrete memory that I can well understand those who read them again and again – I have a feeling that a few connections are likely to appear shortly!

In summary, everything I had hoped for and expected in the way of stimulating and thought-provoking reading. Believe me, I am not one who would praise it if I thought otherwise (even though it has been suggested that I was being put in an unfair position and I could hardly have admitted to not liking them). Just like Richard probably 😉

I’d love to have comments if your interested, but let’s keep them separate from business because I’ll never get through them in work hours the way things are at the moment. Maybe use my own email address at bill.marshall@cableinet.co.uk

Very best wishes to everyone. I’ll be in touch with any further news of C&R

Bill Marshall

Newsletter – 18th September ’97

Greetings from a chilly but sunny Edinburgh

First of all thanks to everyone who wrote after my last newsletter. I may not have managed to reply to all the messages before I went on holiday – apologies to anyone I missed but it was very hectic right up until I went away. Many of the messages I received mentioned my “secret” of being a novice Lymond reader and were often very amusing and helpful, so thanks again to you all for that. Some of you asked me to give you my impressions of Game of Kings and Queens’ Play (the latter of which I finished during the holiday) and while I’m not entirely sure I should be taking up everyones time and bandwidth with my own reactions to the books I’ll try to do so next time if no one minds. Suffice it to say for the moment that I enjoyed them both a great deal.

Dunnett Companion

However the purpose of this newsletter is primarily to keep everyone informed about the position of the Dorothy Dunnett Companion, which as you all know has not been available from Michael Joseph for some months.
I’m happy to say that a couple of UK Dunnett fans alerted me to the fact that a chain of remainder shops in the English midlands were selling copies of the Companion at a cut price. Before going on holiday I had made some enquiries, tracked down the company concerned and managed to persuade them to supply us with 30 copies. These arrived just before I got back, and I’ve since been trying to collate all the orders and enquiries we’ve had for it in the last few months. I know that some people have managed to get copies from Duthies in Canada whose web address I’d given earlier, and I’ve tried to weed out anyone who is known to have got one this way.

Rather than message each person individually I’m listing below those who I think may still want copies and would ask each person on that list to let me know whether they still do. (I’ve added a small number of people to the mailing list who weren’t already on it for this reason – if any of you want to be dropped from the list again after we sort this out just let me know.) If I’ve missed anyone out who has previously ordered the Companion please let me know and I’ll check it out. I’m trying to make sure that everyone gets copies in correct chronological order to be fair to you all.
Once I’ve had replies and know how many copies – if any – are left over I can take any fresh orders, of which I’ve had a few this morning.

The list of people who placed orders/enquiries by email or by the StockSearch system is as follows:

(list deleted)
Since we had to pay the same price as the remainder shop is charging (UKP 5.99 believe it or not!!) plus carriage charges, we’ll be charging UKP 10.00 (still a lot better than the full price of UKP 17.99) plus postage. I hope everyone is happy with this.
The one thing I haven’t been able to establish is where the books were came from, but I do know that they can’t have come from Michael Joseph as the remainder chain doesn’t deal with them. So far I haven’t heard or seen any copies being sold in any other part of the country so maybe it was a one-off batch that some wholesaler had sold off. It’s still not clear how the distribution chain still had copies to supply Duthies in Canada when it couldn’t supply us here, but maybe there is a connection. It’s not clear at the moment whether we’ll be able to get any more after this batch but I’ll make further enquiries once we’ve sorted this lot out.

Other developments
Not too many other items this time, but one thing to mention is the change of web address of Marzipan and Kisses – it’s now on Jean Clissold’s site at
http://www.rowan.studio.bilp.org/Marzipan/dunnett1.htm
and it includes a discussion forum where you can leave messages while visiting the page.

Since we (at last!!) have a colour scanner to call our own I’ve added some more book jackets to our web page which brighten it up a little, though I’ve used thumbnails with links to larger versions in order to keep the loading time down. Most of you still seem to find the speed of loading sufficiently fast but I wonder if there would be a desire for a pure text version for those with slow connections? Just a thought. Does anyone think there should be potted descriptions of the basic plots of the books/series? – that’s just one of the suggestions I’ve received in the last few months. Would anyone be brave enough to write them? – I certainly wouldn’t feel qualified but I don’t think repeating the publisher’s own blurbs would serve any purpose. One person even suggested eventually having separate pages for Lymond and for Niccolo!! Comments welcome.

More news next time as we get closer to the release of Caprice and Rondo.

very best wishes

Bill

Newsletter – 18th Aug 1997

Greetings to everyone from a Festival packed Edinburgh.

The long awaited US tour details (or at least most of them) are now available at last. Typically they became available while I was away on a business trip to London last week or I would have sent this on Thursday or Friday. The details so far are as follows (dates in US format)

New York, NY
Barnes & Noble Union Square
33 E. 17th St.
10/13/97, 7:30 pm

Washington, DC
Chapters,
1512 K. St., NW
10/14/97, 7:00 pm

Boston, MA
Waterstone’s,
181 Newbury St.
10/15/97, 7:30 pm

Philadelphia, PA
Borders Book & Music
1727 Walnut St.
10/16/97, 7:30 pm

Coral Gables,
FL
Books & Books,
296 Aragon Ave.
10/27/97, 8:00 pm
Fairway, KS
Rainy Day Books,
2812 W. 53rd St.
10/28/97, 7:00 pm

Denver, CO
The Tattered Cover,
1628 Sixteenth St.
10/29/97, 7:30 pm

Orinda, CA
Orinda Books,
276 Village Square
10/30/97, 5:00 pm

Corte Madera,
CA
Book Passage,
51 Tamal Vista
10/30/97, 12:30 pm

St. Louis, MO
Location and date to
come

So, a little shorter than expected and no dates in Canada at all, or in Chicago where I’d expected there to be one. I’ll try and find out if there are any more still to be announced but I suspect not. Disappointingly Random House haven’t yet been in touch with me as
they had promised. The dates are taken from their new web pages at

http://www.randomhouse.com/vintage/dunnett/

They are nicely put together with some good content, although most of you will recognise the “Message from Dorothy” 😉 The historical notes are useful although perhaps too much to take in for a newcomer to the period, and the “Reading Group Guides” sound a bit dry and academic to my ears – too many memories from school I guess!!. However they certainly deserve credit for trying to stimulate discussion.
Anyone spot their own contribution to the readers letters section?

There is another Dunnett page which has appeared recently at Romance Communications Magazine http://www.romcom.com/dunnett/ and yes, that same message comes up yet again :-) Some nice colour scans of the covers and some basic promotional info is pretty much all it contains but it’s well enough done. Maybe I’m a bit sensitive but I do find the link to our pages which simply says “more information” without any clue that you are going to another site, just a little bit cheeky.

I’ve had a few messages enquiring about something called the “Autographed Copy Day One’ list” that we were supposed to have. Well, I can perhaps understand where this might have been deduced from but let me say straight away that it doesn’t exist!!

To put the record straight the situation is simply this. Everyone who has ordered Caprice and Rondo from us will, all being well, get a signed copy. Dorothy always comes in to sign all our copies of the new titles (and often the reissued ones as well) before we send them
out to you all. There are usually signed copies left over since obviously we order more than just the reserved copies, and anyone ordering after release gets them until we run out. Since Dorothy usually also does an in-store appearance and signing session not long after publication, we usually get some more extras then as well.

Maybe I should make more of this aspect and “shout it from the rooftops” as our unique selling point, but I haven’t done so for two reasons.

Firstly, most of our “old” customers who ordered from us before the email contacts sprung up, already knew this, and most of you who I swapped messages with over the last 2 or 3 years either got told in person or seemed to pick it up, so I didn’t think it was necessary.

Secondly, I’m always uncomfortable making promises for someone else, and as I’ve said to a few of you individually, I have a nightmare vision of one day Dorothy falling ill or something at the critical time and not being able to come in to do the signings. (As it is she will only just be back from the US tour when the books appear and with the ever growing number of orders I would think it’ll take her a couple of days to get through them all. I just hope there is no repeat of the TLWL debacle with that Brussels shop getting their copies early and selling thembefore the publication date). That being said, She’s never failed to come in yet and I know that she’d never willingly miss it – she does appreciate all of you a very great deal.

“Companion”

Some slightly odd news on the Dorothy Dunnet Companion. One of our UK correspondents noticed copies for sale in a remainder bookshop in the midlands. I’ve been in touch with their head office and the deputy buyer is trying to get hold of copies for us. They apparently don’t deal with Michael Joseph so they didn’t come from them. Perhaps they were sold on to them by a wholesaler (although we thought we’d been round all of them) who perhaps has also supplied copies to the Canadian distributor that Duthies has received stock from. I hope to have more news about this by later this week.

UK Signing Sessions

I’ll be trying to get details of Dorothy’s C&R promotional visits in the UK but I am off on holiday for two weeks from the 23rd August so it will probably be after that before I can distribute them.

Ohh and one more thing about my holidays.
As my wife is visiting an old friend from Orkney who now lives in Sweden, I’m going to be on my own this year on my latest visit to Slovenia. Lots of time for climbing mountains, photography and reading. I once confessed to one of you a long while back that I hadn’t read any of Dorothy’s books myself and that I seldom read (or have the time to read) any sort of fiction. I did read the Companion to get an idea of the background and fill in my general history a bit. Well, I kept dipping into some of the books on my desk on the rare occasions I had time for a tea-break, and finally decided I had to read Game of Kings. You guessed it – Queens’ Play is in my suitcase!! 😉

very best wishes to you all

Bill

Newsletter – 23rd July 1997

This file is a formatted recreation of one of the early newsletters I sent out from James Thin. Purely for archive purposes.

Summer Greetings to All our Dunnett Enthusiasts
Hope you are all well and not effected by the extremes of drought and flood that seem to be so widespread in many parts of the world at the moment.

I’d been hoping to get this newsletter out before now as I know that many of you in the US are anxious for news of the itinerary for Dorothy’s forthcoming author tour. My contact at Random House had originally expected to have the details a few weeks ago, but as I’ve just had confirmed this morning the negotiations are still going on. My information is that the original plan was for a three week tour, but it may now be two separate 5 day tours at the beginning and end of October. I’ll let you all know when I hear anything else.

For those of you who are in Edinburgh for the Festival, Dorothy will be making her usual appearance at the 1997 Edinburgh Book Festival on Tuesday 19th August at 11.10am in the Post Office Theatre tent in Charlotte Square. She’ll be talking to BBC presenter David Stenhouse. Tickets there are £5/£3

There is also a possibility that she may be at the Lockerbie Book Festival in early Sept but this is not yet certain.

I heard from Dorothy this morning – the good news is that Caprice and Rondo is now finally finished and went off to the printer last week. Having emerged blinking into the light she’ll now be trying to attack the backlog of months of correspondence :-) Then of course comes the promotional work.

One little snippet of information; C&R is dedicated to Dorothy’s latest grandchild – Annabella Charlotte – who is I believe about 18 months old.

If you’ve logged on to the web site in the last couple of days you’ll have seen two new items. Firstly we now have a scan of the cover for Caprice & Rondo. I have to thank Alan Cartledge for letting me know that he had got hold of a copy of the cover and for doing an excellent scan. (I’m rather less pleased with Michael Joseph for not having sent a copy to me yet!)

Secondly the address for Marzipan and Kisses now has a link as it now has it’s own web site. Please note the slight change in the address to write to for subscribing.

I wanted to ask if anyone is still waiting for a copy of the cassette of “Music for Lymond Niccolo and the Medici”, just in case anyone was missed out. We now have plenty of copies available but I seem to have more than I expected. Sometimes it happens that a written letter will go to Douglas in Mail Order without coming to me after the initial enquiry has been by email, so hopefully everything is ok, but I just want to make sure.

Still no word on the “Dorothy Dunnett Companion” which is still unavailable. I believe some of you managed to get copies from the Canadian company that I mentioned on the web pages, but at least one other hasn’t been able to get through to them. I got a very nice email from them thanking me for mentioning them, so they’ve obviously been able to supply some of you but I don’t know how long their supplies will last.

Now I have a question for any of you that have both the new editions of Game of Kings & Queens Play and one of the older editions. In the new Vintage editions Dorothy mentions in the forward that she did “a little manicuring” to tidy up some of the defects in the original edition. A couple of people who have noticed this reference have asked me if I know how much difference there is. Well as far as reading the books I’m just a beginner compared to most of you! From the fax that Dorothy just sent me it looks as if both the new UK and US editions have these changes (although the forward is only in the US editions) and in most cases these are “corrections of misprints, small omissions … or misleading punctuation”. Some other changes were intended but not done because it would have meant major typesetting changes. If any of you who have read the older editions and noticed differences would like to comment for the benefit of the others, then email me and I can pass this on in the next newsletter.

One thing I had better mention again are the email and web addresses, particularly the latter, as anyone who still has a bookmark or link with the old address (the one with almac and business_park in it) will find that it won’t work anymore because of a change of ISP. Use the one with our own domain name – http://www.jthin.co.uk/dunnett.htm and you’ll get through fine. Please have a look at the rest of the site as well if you have time – I’ve added quite a bit recently and we now have many additional subjects such as Science Fiction – and let me know what you think.

While the old email address (james.thin.ltd@almac.co.uk) still works and is aliased to enquiries@jthin.co.uk it may not do so forever and it would be better to use the newer one. That one gets through to Craig as does orders@jthin.co.uk and either one can be used for ordering or enquiring about orders. If you have other Dunnett questions then you can still contact me direct at the address below.

best wishes to you all

Bill