Thursday, 31 December 2015
2015: The Publications
In 2015, I published a non-fiction book, a novel, four anthologies and three short stories, as well as introducing a raft of classic crime novels. Quite a year, then. But of course, the appearance of so many books so quickly is partly due to coincidence. I've been working on one of them in particular for a very long time. In May, The Golden Age of Murder, the product of so many years of reading and research (and indeed writing) finally made an appearance. I'd spent most of those years expecting it would be published by a small press, and reaching a modest readership. It felt like a niche project, not exactly self-indulgent,,perhaps, but not like a book of mass appeal. Yet it has proved, in terms of hardback sales and the number and quality of reviews, to be the most successful book I've ever written. I never anticipated this, but I'm very, very happy about it.
I've tried to analyse why it's happened, and the reviews (nearly one hundred of them now: incredible) do supply a few clues. I suppose the answer is something to do with a revival of interest in classic crime, and something to do with the fact that, whatever else may be said about it, The Golden Age of Murder is an unusual and idiosyncratic book. Yes, it's non-fiction, but there is a lot of me (or rather, what fascinates me) in it, and this has proved to be less of a disadvantage than I might have thought. What I'm really pleased about is the breadth of the book's appeal - not just to died-in-the-wool Golden Age fans, but all sorts of readers and reviewers, and indeed a surprising number of contemporary writers, some of whom have been so kind as to send me personal messages which usually include the phrase "I never knew that..."
The Dungeon House, sixth of the Lake District Mysteries, appeared more recently, and I've been gladdened by two things. First, readers have responded well to the fact that this novel differs in some ways from earlier entries in the series. Second, my fiction seems to be reaching a wider audience than in the past. This was helped the other day by a Kindle Daily Deal on three books in the series, which saw them briefly occupying places in the top 15 Kindle bestsellers list. I'm accustomed to my novels not selling in vast numbers (to put it mildly), but things definitely seem to be moving in the right direction.
For the CWA, I put together an anthology of essays about real life crimes, Truly Criminal, published by the History Press. In comparison to my other books this year, it hasn't received widespread attention, or achieved large sales, but I feel that the quality of the contributions (three of them written by winners of the CWA Diamond Dagger) deserves to ensure its longevity. Nothing very like it has been produced for many years, and I'm hopeful that it's a book whose reputation will keep growing..
As well as introducing classic crime books published by the British Library, I've contributed intros to the welcome reprint of Hugh Conway's Called Back and also to a second Arcturus anthology of Sherlock Holmes stories. For the BL I've also edited three anthologies of short stories. Both Capital Crimes and Resorting to Murder outsold any of the other anthologies I've edited - by a long way - and recently Silent Nights has become one of the most successful titles in the series. It seems already to be one of the bestselling crime anthologies published in Britain in recent decades..Something else my crystal ball never foretold...
On the short story front, I was glad to contribute to Murder Squad's Starlings (a story that was barely criminous, and influenced by my love of the work of Robert Aickman) and Maxim Jakubowski's anthologies of stories about Professor Moriarty and Jack the Ripper respectively.
So what does next year have in store? If you'd like to know, take a look at the blog tomorrow...