Monday, 4 February 2013

Racking up the sales, digging up the bones

To say the least, I’m very happy with the way the e-version of STALKERS, my first crime novel, is selling. (I shouldn’t really boast about it of course, but I’m going to anyway – don’t be too disgusted; I’ll try and keep it factual at the same time).

As of this evening (Monday, UK time), we’d sold 5,739 copies. The paperback version will only be launched on Valentine’s Day later this month, so I think we’ve done pretty well thus far. Last Sunday alone we apparently sold 1,466 copies, which I’m led to believe it quite impressive.

Apparently, STALKERS is currently the third best-selling ebook across the whole of HarperCollins and at the time of this writing sits 18th in the main Kindle chart and 7th in the Kindle crime chart.

For those who don’t know, STALKERS tells the tale of Detective Sergeant Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg, whose hunt for 38 missing women leads him to uncover a nightmarish conspiracy. Reviewers online have thus far called it "a cracking thriller with electric pace"; "a tremendous read, well written"; and "a tense cat and mouse chase between a gang so dangerous that no one dare mention their name, and a rough around the edges cop".

You may wonder what all this has got to do with the image above - Laurence Olivier as Richard III in the 1955 movie adaptation of Shakespeare's classic play. Well the answer is - nothing whatsoever. We're now onto a completely different subject, though death and mayhem have their part to play here as well. Basically, I was intrigued by the recent announcement that the remains of Richard III – the last Plantagenet king of England and a character whose evil reputation (courtesy possibly of Shakespeare) and whose undoubted heroic death at the battle of Bosworth in 1485 combined to make him the stuff of romantic legend – have finally been found under a car park in Leicester.

It isn’t a very dignified resting place for a famous warrior king, but in an odd kind of way it ties in with the character we know from the historical records rather than the dramatic reinventions. For example Richard III is the only English monarch known to have spoken with a northern accent, he was also famous for leading his men into battle from the front (which eventually cost him his life, though he survived many other encounters during the tumultuous Wars of the Roses), and for the period of his lieutenancy in the north, he was famed for passing rules and regulations designed to ease the lot of the common people. Of course, just because we’ve found his bones lying under the feet of everyday Leicester folk, covered in grotesque battle-wounds, that doesn’t mean he didn’t have his nephews murdered in the Tower of London or that he didn’t slaughter various other foes (including his older brother, George, famously drowned in a butt of wine), or that he wasn’t a hunchback – amazingly, the archaeological remains suggest that he was.

But enough of the history. Now to the shameless plug. If anyone is newly interested in Richard III as a result of the recent sensational stories, you could do worse than purchase yourself a copy of TERROR TALES OF THE COTSWOLDS.

This is the second to date in my round-Britain series of combined 'horror fiction and fact' anthologies, and as well as including some great original Cotswolds stories from Ramsey Campbell, Simon Clark, Chris Harman, Gary Fry, Steve Lockley, Gary McMahon, Reggie Oliver, Alison Littlewood, Thana Niveau, Simon Kurt Unsworth, John Llewellyn Probert and Joel Lane, it includes several references to the much maligned king (as well as featuring his ghost on the cover). For instance, in Simon Clark’s eerie THE SHAKESPEARE CURSE, the discovery of a hidden cellar in Stratford-on-Avon leads to a reawakening of Richard’s murderous memory, and in LOVELL’S LONG WAIT we follow the terrible fate of Francis Lovell, one of Richard’s few loyal knights to survive the butchery at Bosworth.

Of course, if you want to know more ... you know what you have to do.

Pictured above, another heraldic apocalypse as the armies of Lancaster and York meet again in the final epic clash that was Bosworth Field (as seen in this specially made diorama at the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre).

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