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With the publication of A Decent Bomber came the opportunity to do a quick clean of the Augean stables that is my 'back list' - the books already out there in the cruel world.
For a start there was a new cover for Olives - A Violent Romance which brings it into line with the style of the others. And it's easier to ditch the black spines because the printing's not always accurate enough to avoid the odd wee strip escaping onto the front cover.
Then an overhaul of the books' interior templates - a move to Palatino, a slightly 'roomier' font than Garamond - but keeping Perpetua as my title font. The result is a bit spacier and more accessible all round. By the way, if you're in the market for a kick-ass Createspace template for 5x8" format novels, hit me up and I'll happily share.
And then on to Shemlan - A Deadly Tragedy. The book's editor, Bubblecow's Gary Smailes, ditched the 'backstory' chapters in the book to create a more accessible narrative that flowed more easily. That change, impacting some 30,000 words in all, was reflected in the original Shemlan when it published and it had the desired effect.
But it's been a while now and I've had time to think it over. In creating a more straightforward read, I was missing some of the spirit I had originally intended for the book, the contrast between Jason Hartmoor the young man full of hope and spirit and Hartmoor the lifetime diplomat whose failed marriage and lacklustre career had hardened him into unyielding and crusty later life. The story of Jason and Mai was rather sacrificed to the cuts, as well. And that was a story I wanted to tell. And, finally, the evocation of Beirut in the late 1970s and the British 'spy school' up in the Chouf was lost - and that was sort of core to my original scheme for the book.
And so I have been restoring the book, on the grounds that I only have myself to please. Well, I have you lot to please, too - but I generally find you're happy enough with what I get up to. It's the agents and publishers who seem to think whatever it is I decide to do is simply not commercial enough to bother them. And they are clearly never going to revise their somewhat dim view of what it is I do.
I'll let you know when the restored version goes up, but you can always sign up (just over on the right there) to my mailer to get the news first or to get your hands on the restored edition as a free ebook. Meanwhile I'm still trying to think up new daft schemes to get people to pre-order A Decent Bomber so it makes a wee blip on the charts come the 5th November. Any suggestions would be more than welcome, I can tell you!