Monday, January 19, 2009

New-look paperbacks

For nearly a decade Peter Sutton, Fred van Deelen and Richard Carr have collaborated with me to design the covers of the Roman Mysteries. Collectors will be happy to hear that we will be using their designs for all seventeen of the main Roman Mysteries, and the collection of Mini-Mysteries called Trimalchio's Feast.

But now Orion have decided to give future paperbacks a new look. By a happy coincidence one of the artists involved is an old friend of mine, Patrick Knowles. Patrick commissioned Larry Rostant to execute illustrations based on extracts from the novels. Then Patrick came up with the type and final design. I am thrilled with the four covers I've seen so far and can't wait to see the rest. Here is a sneak preview of what you can find in the bookstores from May 2009. I especially like this cinematic view of Nubia in an exciting scene near the end of The Pirates of Pompeii. Euge. (Yay.)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Wonderful Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
paperback cover
I have just finished writing the last book in the Roman Mysteries series and I am euphoric. It is called The Man from Pomegranate Street.

Ten years ago I hadn't even had the idea of the Roman Mysteries. (It came to me in August 1999). Now there are over 20 books out there, a whole world of plots and characters, all from my head. Fantastic! Amazing!*

A letter from a fan asking me where I got all my ideas reminded me of an early inspiration. When I was about 11, the target age of my readers, I saw a movie which is still one of my favourites: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Although many people write it off as a silly musical, I dare to say it's probably the most accurate film about ancient Rome ever made. Have a look at the opening sequence on YouTube: COMEDY TONIGHT.

As for my 17 books, they can probably all be summed up in the words of the title song:

Something familiar, something peculiar, something for everyone a comedy tonight!

Something appealing, something appalling, something for everyone a comedy tonight! Nothing with kings, nothing with crowns, bring on the lovers, liars and clowns. Old situations, new complications, nothing portentous or polite, tragedy tomorrow: comedy tonight!

Something convulsive, something repulsive, something for everyone: a comedy to night. Something aesthetic, something frenetic, something for everyone: a comedy tonight. Nothing of gods, nothing of fate, weighty affairs will just have to wait…

Something familiar, something peculiar, something for everyone a comedy tonight! Something that’s gaudy, something that’s bawdy, something for everybody’s taste...

Pantaloons and tunics, courtesans and eunuchs, funerals and chases, baritones and basses, panderers, philanderers, cupidity, timidity, mistakes, fakes, rhymes, mimes, tumblers, grumblers, fumblers, bumblers, no royal curse, no Trojan horse, and there’s a happy ending of course. Goodness and badness, man in his madness, this time it all turns out all right… comedy, comedy, comedy tonight!

Lovers divided get coincided, something for everyone a comedy tonight! Father and mother get one another, something for everyone – a (tragedy) tonight! I get the twins, they get the best, I get a family, I get a rest, we get a few girls, I’ll get some new girls, I get the thing I want to be: Free!

Nothing for kings, nothing for crowns, something for the lovers, liars and clowns. What is the moral? Must be a moral. Here is the moral wrong or right: morals tomorrow, comedy, comedy, comedy tonight!

The Man from Pomegranate Street is out now and you can watch filmed adaptations of some of the earlier books via iTunes

* Fantastic! Amazing! is a quote from Funny Thing, which I know almost by heart...