Last week I was asked to sign a new copy of my book Empires Apart. As the book has long been out of print that doesn’t happen very often. When my original publisher, Picnic Press, went out of business their entire stock was pulped – much to my disgust and I suspect to the horror of their other authors as well.
I was therefore astonished to be approached by someone who had just bought a copy on the internet. The book he produced was the American edition which is also no longer in print. I was very happy to sign it and even happier to meet someone who so clearly enjoyed reading my efforts.
There were some last minute hiccups when the US edition was launched. The distributors were apparently concerned that the book had “anti-American” tendencies but the publisher went ahead, albeit with a few missing pages. Those missing pages had added weight to the book – and not just literally – but the prize of publication by a respected US publisher had been worth a minor sacrifice. Families of Spies however is a whodunit – missing a few pages of that would be a disaster!
Families of Spies is available in draft on Kindle and being read! And I’m already getting great feedback which will certainly help with the development of the Dylan stories. This isn’t my first attempt at fiction.
My first thriller, at that time entitled The Griffin Interrogator, I had privately printed. It was only ever read by a few friends. My wife loved it. Others were less enthusiastic. I concluded that it needed extensive rewriting, a project in itself.
Families of Spies has already been read, or at least bought, by far more people than ever read The Griffin Interrogator.
I love the convenience, speed and simplicity of eBooks but there is something special for many people in the touch and feel of a ‘real’ book. And for the author there is that magic moment going into a bookstore and seeing your own name on the spine of a printed book. Can’t wait for Families of Spies to be out in paperback.
When the first edition of Empires Apart was published in 2009 the British and Indian editions received overwhelmingly positive reviews.
It is fair to say that reaction to the US edition, which had been ‘adjusted’ by the publisher, was more mixed. The Midwest Book Review called it “remarkable, scholarly and educational” but others responded less enthusiastically. One reader commented that I was so stupid that I believed that we are all descended from monkeys – thus proving that not everyone has evolved very far!
To such people the idea that America could be described as “imperial” was absurd.
When the second edition came out change was in the air: President Obama was in the White House and Russia seemed to have accepted the loss of empire signified by the break-up of the Soviet Union. Fukuyama’s assertion that history had ended may have seemed plausible. But had America and Russia’s imperial dreams really evaporated?
The events of 2018 demonstrated conclusively that the central thesis of Empires Apart still holds. Russia and America act, and have always acted, as imperial powers. Russian military interventions in Ukraine and Syria and President Trump’s America First rhetoric were only the most visible signs that the US and Russia were still determined to impose their national interests on the rest of the world. Perhaps a third edition should be titled Trump, Putin and the Lessons of History.