I was thrilled to get a lovely 5* review of ‘Burke in the Peninsula’ this week.
This is 5-star reading for those enjoying military history, and readers should be aware of other works by author Tom Williams who uses Burke’s career as settings both before and after the Peninsular War when there was turmoil in Europe.Amazon Vine Review
‘Burke in the Peninsula’ is the best selling of the Burke books, apart from the series starter, ‘Burke in the Land of Silver’. There’s little doubt that it does well in part because of Sharpe fans and others who like nothing better than a Napoleonic Wars campaign that they know well. (‘Burke at Waterloo’ does well too.)
I’m happy to get such generous praise for any of my books, but it’s another reminder of why writers write series books. There’s another Burke book on the way. ‘Burke and the Lines of Torres Vedras’ is also set in the Peninsular Wars and I hope will sell well, but it would be ever so nice if people would take a look at the books I write that aren’t about Burke.
The first book I wrote was ‘The White Rajah’, based on the life of James Brooke, the first White Rajah of Sarawak. It’s set in mid-19th century Borneo and although it has drama and battles, it also a book about the complexities and contradictions of colonial rule. It’s not helped, commercially, by being written in the first person by a mid-19th century writer, so the language is more Dickens than Dan Brown. It’s a bloody good book though, and, commercial or not, it got positive opinions from some major publishers. Unfortunately, the consensus was that it was too “difficult” for a first novel from an unknown author and I should write something less demanding first. Hence ‘Burke in the Land of Silver’.
Since then, I have written two sequels to ‘The White Rajah’, including ‘Cawnpore’, which is the book I’m most proud of (and readers have said lovely things about it). But mainly I write about James Burke because it’s always nice to have readers and Burke is obviously what people want to read.
Lately, I’ve branched out into Urban Fantasy. I can see that many military history fans aren’t going to touch my stories featuring a vampire policeman or a werewolf MP, but people who like that sort of thing seem to enjoy them. I’ve had people who say they generally don’t like that sort of thing enjoy them too. They’re funny, for a start. They get nice comments when they come out but then they quietly vanish away. I’ve only written two novels and a novella, so mine is not a name that is much recognised in that genre. They’re huge fun to write and I want to write another one but the reality is that, if I want more readers, I have to produce more books about James Burke.
Of course, the amount that I (and most other writers) make from our books is so insignificant that it would make perfect sense to ignore sales and just write whatever I want to – which is sometimes James Burke, but often not. In the end, though, I am not one of those people who sits down at a keyboard and gets up having produced 2,000 brilliant words. I find writing quite hard work and what motivates me is knowing that people read and enjoy my books. So it looks as if I’m going to be writing about James Burke until the end of time unless, of course, some of you lovely people would like to give the other books are try and then post reviews on Amazon to let everybody know that there is more to life than the Peninsular Wars.