With the end of January only days away, it’s a bit late to be talking about plans for 2022, but the first weeks of the new year have been busy. Indeed, I’ve already passed my first landmark of 2022 with the publication of the latest James Burke book: Burke and the Pimpernel Affair. 2021 was a fairly grim year and Burke’s last adventure (Burke in Ireland) reflected the mood of the times, being very dark indeed. It seemed time to have something that was more light hearted and fun and Burke and the Pimpernel Affair definitely fits that description. It finds James Burke in Paris where (with a definite nod to Baroness Orczy’s books) he is trying to free British agents from a French gaol. He’s helped by William Brown, of course, and there are several historical figures who have roles to play, including the Empress Josephine. (The real James Burke probably met Josephine, though not in the circumstances of this story.)
I’m editing another Contemporary Urban Fantasy about Galbraith and Pole. A lot of people said they would like to see a sequel to Something Wicked, so I’ve obliged. It’s a story that’s been at the back of my mind for a while and I started writing it last year, but if I tell you that it features a werewolf and the House of Commons, you may see why I’m in a hurry to get it finished. It’s got the same sardonic humour as Something Wicked but there’s a definite satirical edge and I feel that for once I may be riding the zeitgeist.
Of course, if The Bookseller is right and 2022 is going to be all about historical novels, I may be riding that zeitgeist as well. Can you ride two zeitgeists or is it like trying to ride two horses and unwise to make the attempt?
I’m also involved in a short book of short stories. Four of us with stories set in the 19th century are putting them out together for 99p in the hope of reaching new audiences. It should be out in March. I’ll keep you all informed.
Here on the blog I’m going to try something different from February. My beloved is a big Jane Austen fan and keeps a regular journal. With all the fuss lately about exactly how many parties you were allowed to have and when, we realised that the details of two years of on-again, off-again restrictions had faded. She began looking back at the journal entries about lockdown and we realised that here was a record of an extraordinary period of English social history. (The Scots and the Welsh have their own, slightly different, stories.) So we’re going to take a look at what was going on two years ago. I’ll keep going until you all demand I stop – though I’ll probably run it alongside my regular blog rather than instead of.
Beyond March, I’m not sure where I’m going. I’m finding it difficult to promote existing books properly and write new ones at the same time. (Hence the gap in output while the John Williamson books were being published.) The temptation is to say that I write for fun and just concentrate on that but the fact is that it is only fun if people read them, and with thousands more books being published all the time, people only read them if you jump up and down and talk about them. So what to do?
I know I’m not alone in worrying about this. The sad fact is that writers will write only as long they think people are reading what they produce. (That goes for the blog too.) It’s one reason why reviews are so important, but any sort of feedback is appreciated: comments on this blog; contact on Twitter (I’m @TomCW99); anything really. (One fan of The White Rajah gave me a miniature kris in pewter, which was amazing, but you don’t need to get carried away.)
If (and it’s a big ‘if’) I don’t write another novel, there’s a possible non-fiction about Waterloo. Or maybe I’ll just concentrate on improving my tango. (I can offer lessons if you want them.) Whatever happens – recession, lockdown, the collapse of capitalism, global warming, or the end of civilisation as we know it – I’ll still be writing or dancing or something. Stick with the blog and help me enjoy the ride – and a Happy New(ish) Year to you all.