Sunday, April 09, 2006

I'm taking a quiet moment to reflect on a turbulent few months. The first of my China Thrillers, published in France as "Meurtres à Pékin", has really taken off.

Selected by the readers of the French magazine "Elle" for their annual Grand Prix, it is this month's (April) Crime Book of the Month. Seven other titles are in the running for the Grand Prix, and the winner will be announced in May. I don't really expect to win it, but just to be selected is a huge honour. It has meant that the book is getting front-of-house promotion in Virgin Megastores throughout France - which can't hurt sales.

I am now receiving invitations from all over the country to appear at Book Fairs and Festivals. One weekend I'm at St. Malo on the English Channel, the next weekend I'm at Frontignan on the Mediterranean. I have a meeting with my readers at FNAC in Toulouse, a jazz dinner organised by a bookstore in Figeac, a signing in Marseilles... I wonder when I'm going to find the time to write.

The Salon du Livres in Paris - the biggest book fair in the country - took place in the middle of March. I was signing on my publisher's stand for two days, and also made a public appearance as part of a forum of four writers being questioned by a journalist - ALL IN FRENCH!!

The second in the China Series has also just been published here - "Le Quatrième Sacrifice" - and at the beginning of June the sixth in the series, "L'Eventreur de Pékin" will be published by the biggest book club in France, France Loisirs. They have four million subscribers! I met two of their editors in Paris - attractive young ladies who wined and dined me in a classy restaurant near the Eiffel Tower. Life could be worse!!

During a month spent in California, in February, my New York publisher St. Martin's Press confirmed that they will take books two and three in the China Series. "The Fourth Sacrifice" will come out in the States on January 7th, 2007, with "The Killing Room" following shortly after.

During my California sojourn another US publisher - Poisoned Pen Press - snapped up the first book in a new series, set here in France. Working with editor/publisher Barbara Peters has been an absolute joy. The first book, "Extraordinary People" will be published in the US and the UK in November, 2006. I have been commissioned to write the second book in the series, and have just returned from a research trip to the undiscovered wine region of Gaillac - about two hours south of where I live.

Having to research wine for a crime thriller is one of life's great bonuses. I hope to have sobered up by next week.

By way of a footnote: when I returned from Gaillac, it was to find an e-mail from my pal, artist Gilbert Raffin, enclosing photographs he took of "Le Quatrième Sacrifice" in the window of one of the most influential bookstores in Paris. By coincidence, right next to it, was a book by a Chinese crime writer called Qiu Xiaolong, whom I met at Bouchercon in Chicago last September.

A double coincidence, really, since Gilbert sent me a photograph of the same window a few months ago, when "Meurtres à Pekin" was prominently displayed - right beside a book written by my old friend, the Chinese crime writer He Jiahong, who lives in Beijing.

It seems I can't help bumping into old friends in shop windows!