VITA BREVIS now in paperback in the USA!

Vita Brevis HB coverVITA BREVIS, the story of Ruso and Tilla’s trip to Rome, is published in paperback in America today!

Ask at your local bookshop, or find it at Barnes and Noble or Amazon. Meanwhile, also in the USA, MEDICUS – the first book in the series – is still a July Deal on Kindle.

Apologies to friends here in the UK – the paperback IS on the way, and will appear on 7 September.  Hive (which supports your local bookshop), Amazon and The Book Depository already have it listed and will be very happy to receive pre-orders.

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

VITA BREVIS is (almost) out in the UK!

At last! The hardback of VITA BREVIS, the story of Ruso and Tilla’s trip to Rome, goes on sale in the UK tomorrow (22 September). Vita Brevis HB coverYou can read the beginning here.

This publication is less nerve-wracking than usual because the book’s already been released in the US and in other formats here, and I’m grateful to everyone who’s said kind things about it.  It may well come to a bookshop or library near you, and is available online (see below). But…  the mighty Amazon UK don’t have it in stock. It’s probably a glitch that’ll be fixed before I’ve finished typing this*, but I was surprised – and ashamed, to be honest – by how alarmed I felt at facing publication day without the Big A on board. (*LATER – it wasn’t, but it is now.)

All of which left me thinking that life must have been so much simpler in the days when a book was either on the shelf in front of you, or it wasn’t. So I took a little look back to the early 1900’s, when one small seaside resort in Devon could support FIVE circulating libraries/bookshops, all competing for the cash of locals and visitors alike:Advertisement for circulating library

As each library was run on a subscription basis, readers would have to choose between them. (Maybe things weren’t as different then as we imagine. It’s not so far from the Netflix/Prime/Other-subscriptions-are-available debate, is it?) There’s a refreshing honesty about the advertising, though:

Advertisement for library

Perhaps the deciding factor would be price.

List of subscription prices

Hm. Shall I buy a year’s access to Class A books, or nine gallons of stout?

Brewery price list

Rather than commit to a subscription, you could always buy books outright from the same shop.

WH Smith advert for Cheap Editions

Some of the books on sale would be published on the premises. Indeed, should you wish to write your own book, pens and paper would be readily available to purchase. Sadly delivery by drone was not on offer, but someone from Vince’s would obligingly wheel your books through the streets to you in a splendid wooden hand-cart. (I used to have a photo of this but annoyingly, I can’t find it.)

Full marks to Vince’s yet again for imaginative marketing…

Advert for paper to make hats with

I have no idea why enough people might want a paper hat to warrant the cost of the advertisement. Maybe they were sunning themselves on the beaches? It’s a reminder that despite the parallels, those were very different times. Here’s an advertisement from the autumn of 1914.

Advert for maps made by Englishmen

I like to think we’ve moved on. And mindful of the awful events about to engulf the readers of these advertisements, I think I’ve got that mere hiccup on a 21st century website back into some sort of proportion.

 

The research for this post was done at the delightful Ilfracombe Museum.

* VITA BREVIS is available from bookshops or online at:

Bloomsbury UK

Hive

Blackwells (who also own Heffers in Cambridge, where I believe there is stock on the shelf.)

Waterstones

The Book Depository

Amazon UK

If anyone has any other suggestions, please share.

 

Competition fever!

There’s competition fever here at Downie Towers, with the caption competition running till the end of July, plus two more chances to win goodies. Apologies to those who’ve heard this all before, but in case you haven’t…

First, a chance to stock up your summer reading bag with books of your choice, or to win one of the splendid titles on offer:

Graphic showing titles on offer for Summer of History draw

Would you rather visit ancient Greece, or go to Tang Dynasty China? Meet the Jeffersons at Monticello, or travel to Paris in the 1920’s?  How about Ireland, or Alcatraz? To help you choose, there are links to all the authors and their books below.

Stephanie Dray, Laura Kamoie, Vicky Alvear ShecterCatherine Lloyd, Elisabeth Storrs, David Blixt, Sophie Perinot, Ruth Downie, Kate Quinn, Weina Randel, Jennifer Robson, Donna Russo Morin, Eliza Knight, Heather Webb, Allison Pataki, Stephanie Thornton, Kristina McMorris, Greer MaCallister, and Sarah McCoy

Books can be sent to winners in any country within reach of The Book Depository, which is all of these, so pretty much everyone can enter. Do it by 1 August!

Secondly, as of this moment there’s still time for US readers to enter the Goodreads giveaway draw for one of five free copies of VITA BREVIS. Go for it by 28 July!

Vita Brevis goodreads

 

VITA BREVIS, published today – and a caption competition.

Vita Brevis HB coverI’m delighted to announce that Ruso and Tilla’s seventh adventure, set in the great city of Rome itself, is now available on an e-reader near you! Find out more about it here.

If you live in the USA, Canada or Cambridge*, VITA BREVIS should also be available in a bookshop.  (*The fine folk at Heffers Bookshop have arranged a few sneaky imports in time for their Summer 2016 Crime Party on Thursday.)

Paper copies will set sail across the Atlantic before long and, with a fair wind and strong rowers, should arrive in September.

To apologise for the delay, here’s a caption competition! The best caption sent in from the UK or Ireland for the photo below by the end of July wins a signed copy of VITA BREVIS. Friends from elsewhere are very welcome to enter but sadly you will win only the honour of keeping us all amused.

Mosaic of woman (?) confronting naked man

What’s going on here? We need to know!

How to pick a winner

Hands raised Copyright: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/profile_rawpixel'>rawpixel / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Here in the Disunited Kingdom one of the latest squabbles over who’s going to be Prime Minister centres on whether one candidate might have said she’d be better at the job than her rival because she has children. People are rightly asking why this is relevant, while the candidate who’s alleged to have said it insists she’s been misrepresented.  BUT… to the ancient Romans this would have seemed an entirely reasonable discussion. I’ve mentioned this before but not, I think, on this blog: in the Roman empire your family circumstances could make all the difference between winning and losing.

Several sets of bronze tablets have turned up in southern Spain over the years, and the engraving on them gives us a fine insight into the way Roman-style towns were run in the first century AD. Some of it was exactly what an ex-council clerk like me would expect: if you take public money you have to account for it, you can’t vote on something when you stand to profit from the result and – more importantly for many of the locals, I suspect – the law pins down exactly who’s responsible for sorting out the drains. But when we reach the rules for elections, we get one of those jolting reminders that even though the Roman mindset seems familiar, their world was very different to ours.

Should two candidates receive an equal number of votes, this is what would happen in the town that’s now Malaga:

  • The candidate who is married wins.
  • If that doesn’t sort out the winner from the loser –  the candidate who has sons wins.
  • If they both have sons, the candidate with the most sons wins.
  • BUT… in a reminder that our ancestors lived in a tough world, children who have not survived are included in the count. So, two children lost after living long enough to be named, or one son or daughter lost over the age of puberty, are counted as one surviving child (Yes I know there’s a discrepancy here with the son/child thing, but that’s how greater minds than mine have translated the Latin.)
  • If all of that doesn’t pick a winner – it’s time to draw lots.

Of course under the Roman system neither of our potential Prime Ministers would be eligible, no matter how many children they did or didn’t have.  Each of them has failed the fundamental requirement: neither is a man.

Right. Having sorted that out, I’ll be reverting to book stuff next week, because VITA BREVIS, the next Medicus book, should be out in ebook everywhere next Tuesday – hooray!  It’ll also be in print and audio, of course – initially in the USA and Canada.

I’ll also be making a flying visit to Cambridge next Thursday  (14th  July), so if you’re around in the early evening do come and join us at Heffers for What’s Your Poison? Summer 2016 Crime Fiction Party – there might just be one or two sneaky imported copies of VITA BREVIS for sale!

 

Photo: Copyright: rawpixel / 123RF Stock Photo

Badly dressed for the Bard

Big thanks to Fiona and the staff at the lovely Walter Henry’s bookshop in Bideford, who marked the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death on Saturday with tea and cake and fine hospitality. The collective noun for a gathering of  local readers, writers and historians should probably be ‘a gossip’ but we fell respectfully silent to listen to a sonnet by the late Bard, read by his living namesake, writer Liz Shakespeare.

Peter Christie explained why he believes Shakespeare came to Bideford: we know (I didn’t, but I do now) that the King’s Company came all the way to Barnstaple to flee the plague in 1605, so having travelled that far, surely they would travel down the road and play the only other big town in the area? Whose plays were being watched in contemporary accounts of money being ‘wasted’ on the theatre?

Finally Janet Braund Few entertained us with a demonstration of Elizabethan costume and manners. Something we clearly needed, since several of the wenches present had turned up wearing men’s breeches and in a further assault upon modesty, not one of the married ladies present had her head covered.  We had all, as the saying goes, let our hair down.

Rather than shock any sensitive readers with photographs of this scandalous attire, here is a picture of a bag.

Bag with pic of Shakespeare and "The Bard is my Bag" printed on it.

And here’s the book I bought to go inside it, recommended to me by children’s author and farmer (so she should know),   Victoria Eveleigh.

IMG_20160425_132950412_HDR

 

 

At last… Semper Fidelis in the UK!

Cover of Semper Fidelis Finally, the untold story of Hadrian’s visit to Britannia is released in print in the province!  Read all about it here.

If your local bookshop doesn’t have a copy on the shelf, they should be able to order it.  As should your local library.

To the people who have been asking where it is – you know who you are! – thank you for your patience.   To anyone who’s thinking, “Shouldn’t that be ‘the previously untold…’?” – yes it should, but I’ve already had to ruin the flow of the sentence by putting ‘in print’ in there.  So now I’m off to drown my inner pedant with a celebratory cup of tea.

Postmortem on Bodies

No report on the very enjoyable Bodies in the Bookshop day here, because it’s over at the Mystery People website, complete with photos.

Incidentally, what an august venue the Cambridge Union is! And how glad and guilty I felt to be there, while  only fifty miles away, tougher members of the Historical Writers’ Association were facing the flood water at Kelmarsh.  Such a shame.  I hope this won’t put English Heritage off running the Festival of History again next year, because it’s usually a marvellous weekend.

Reshuffling the Bodies

A few changes to the programme for Bodies in the Bookshop, so here’s the official email, hot off the internet this morning –

Bodies in the Bookshop 2012
Saturday 14th July from 10am
The Cambridge Union Society, 9A Bridge Street Cambridge CB2 1UB (link to: http://www.cus.org/about/where-find-us)

Join us in the Cambridge Union for our biggest crime fiction event of the year! This year Bodies in the Bookshop is relocating to the Cambridge Union (link to: http://www.cus.org/) where we have a fantastic line-up of crime authors who will be taking part in a series of themed talks and panel discussions.

The Union Bar and Cafe will also be open all day for food, drink and socialising and the traditional drinks reception will take place in the bar at 6.30pm.

10am Crime Through Time I
Jane Finnis, Ruth Downie and Patrick Easter take us on a journey through time and space as they talk on historical crime fiction from Ancient Rome to Nineteenth Century England.

11am Experts in Murder
Nicola Upson, Catriona McPherson and Laura Wilson give us a glimpse of a pre-war world of murder and mystery which their canny heroes and sharp heroines set about solving, while Sally Spedding adds a more sinister edge to the historical theme.

12 noon Poison in the Parish
Settle in with Ann Purser, Veronica Heley, Rebecca Tope and Jayne Marie Barker who will be discussing mysteries with a distinctly English and traditional character.

1pm Break for Lunch
Lunch will be available at the Union Cafe
1.30pm Crime Through Time II
Follow Ros Barber and Rory Clements to the criminal depths of Tudor England while Chris Nickson and Robin Blake transport us the 18th century and Peter Moore sheds light on the true crimes which took place in a rural Georgian village.

2.30pm Scene of the Crime
Jim Kelly, Alison Bruce and Elly Griffiths discuss their novels set in Cambridge and the surrounding area, bringing crime a little too close for comfort.

3.30pm International Intrigue
Roger Morris, Edward Wilson and Adrian Magson take us from prerevolutionary Russia to 1960s France via the Cold War. Detectives, spies and mysteries abound.

4.30pm Comic Cuts
Len Tyler and Suzette Hill in discussion on the funny side of crime.
5.30pm Death in a Cold Climate
Leading crime fiction expert Barry Forshaw and Quentin Bates, author of a crime fiction series set in Iceland, explore the growing popularity of Nordic Noir and Scandinavian settings. Listen out for ideas on what to read after Stieg Larsson

6.30pm Drinks reception in the Union Bar

Tickets: Adults £10, Concessions £7

Call 01223 463200 or come to Heffers to buy your ticket.
For more information email events.tst@heffers.co.uk or visit the Bodies in the Bookshop facebook page or our blog at bodiesinthebookshop.wordpress.com