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March newsletter
17 March 2012

There’s always a kind of hiatus just after Xmas when it takes a couple of months for the reality of being in the New Year to hit. By the time the strange holding-your-breath of Xmas was over I was travelling – and plotting a novella to kept my sanity (and morale) up over the next eighteen months that are dedicated to the new Thriller Dynasty (publication Jan 2014)  – Zurich/Europe 1982, the Romany and the holocaust, corrupt Swiss bankers, magic and physics). The new thriller is shaping up to be a very dark place indeed, although the research will be fantastic. I have been invited by Clejani Express, a Romanian Gypsy band to go observe their community and culture and I will be visiting Saint Maries De La Mer to see the Romany community there in April and back again in May for the festival of Saint Sara la kali (she features in the book).

But the novella  – more a Tobsha Learner book than TS Learner – a salacious contemporary ghost story set in the East End of London – will be the dessert between the main courses writing-wise – lighter and a lot less research involved. So she says – usually once I begin the whole draft takes on a life of its life, multiplying and complicating like amoeba in a Petra-dish


I had a very interesting experience with Wikipedia, yours truly is now responsible for busting the longest running fraud on Wikipedia (with help from John Asher, contributor to Wikipedia). (I came across this fact about Zyklon B Gas (the gas the nazis used on people) a claim that the very first use of the gas was on 250 Czech children in 1940 in Buchenwald. The citations looked good – a very reputable Holocaust historian (conveniently dead by the 1970’s) was citied as having the eyewitness’s report lodged in a museum in Prague. Anyhow I decided to check it out. I contacted various Romany and the holocaust experts, to no avail then finally rang a Czech relative who happened to be in Prague that day. Lo and behold the Czech museum cited didn’t exist, so he suggested contacting a museum of Romany culture actually located in Brno the Czech village the children were from, I e mailed them and they, to their great credit, responded immediately, telling me that they had heard of the event but couldn’t verify it. They suggested I contact a holocaust expert in Cologne who finally came through with the goods – and no, there was no such gassing – she gave me pages of facts on this. Tragically there were gassings and mass murder of the Rom (around 600 thousand officially) by the Nazi – just not this particular event. So I contacted Wikipedia and to my astonishment ended up with the dubious honour of exposing the fraud. Moral to all you budding writers and historians – check your facts!!!

Publishing updates: thanks to Macleay Bookshop, Sydney for hosting the launch of The Map in Australia – It’s one of those small quirky family run independent bookshops (with some wonderful 2nd books as well) that are increasingly endangered due to on-line distribution and e-books. Frankly I’m in two minds about this – on the one hand I’ve all for cheaper accessible reading, and the democratisation the net brings re: self-publishing and direct access to audience for authors. On the other hand bookshops like Macleay bookshop create a kind of cross-fertilisation between like-minded people (booksellers, the book reps and the reading public) that’s spontaneous and unique. However publishing events like Fifty shades of Grey…/an-erotic-novel-50shades-of-grey-goes-viral (and these ‘break-out’ books are on the increase) indicate the writing’s on the wall (or on the net- excuse the pun!). The old paradigms of marketing and launch a new book/author are definitely looking antiquated. It’s going to be vital for publishers (if they intend to stick around) to evolve as fast as the publishing revolution is – and hey, this is proving to be even faster than the music industry a few years ago. Sometimes I feel like a particle in the CERN accelerator!


Good news for my Spanish readers The Map will also be in Spanish – Boveda (who also published Sphinx) will be publishing it next year. I am also pursuing a translation into Euskara.