Friday, 30 September 2011

Sign here please

All authors sell their books themselves. Even John Grisham started out that way. My experience is that if you sell your book directly to someone, they often ask if you will sign it.

I will, of course. But it does seem a bit weird. I mean, it's very flattering but why on earth does someone want me to sign their copy? I guess if you bought a book from John Grisham back in the day and he signed it, it might be worth something. But he must have been to hundreds of book signings since then and signed thousands of copies, so it can't be worth a lot.

One thing, I suppose, is that it gives the reader a direct physical link to the writer, not mediated through print. Which is nice. But you get a direct link by commenting on any of these blog posts. I read all the comments people make and I reply to them if people ask for a response (and often if they don't). That gives a really direct link, but not many people use it.

So I genuinely don't understand it. Being British, I find it mildly embarrassing, but it's flattering too, so I'm happy to do it.

In the St Margarets magazine, it does say that you can buy signed copies through this blog. That's easy for me to do, because I live in St Margarets and can drop copies off locally. I'd love to sign them for anyone who wants. Someone did pay the postage so that I could mail them a signed copy but generally it's only really possible to sign for people who buy it directly from me in person. If you do, I'll sign it and, more practically, I'll sell it for £7.50, instead of the £9.10 Amazon asks for. (Why £9.10? I think it was a translation of a dollar price and it always drives me nuts but it's out of my hands, I'm afraid.)

If you want a signed copy and you live in St Margarets, please just comment on this blog or message 'James Brooke' on Facebook with your contact details.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

St Margarets

I live in St Margarets. It's one of the little 'villages' that make up London. We have our own butcher, a new baker is taking over since the old one shut down and, if we don't have a candlestick-maker, there's certainly a gift shop that sells a nice line in candles. The village even has its own quarterly magazine, My St Margarets, a glossy production with news of local businesses and things that might interest the people who live here. Which, fortunately for me, includes the efforts of local authors.
The picture above is clickable and enlarges, if you want to read it. Anyone interested in flicking through the whole magazine online will find The White Rajah covered on page 12.

I like living in St Margarets. It's a nice place. And it's full of people who think books are cool. I specially like that.

Friday, 2 September 2011

It's all about ME!!

A little while ago, 1PlaceForRomance did an author spotlight on me. Here it is for those of you who missed it:

Tell us about your current release. It’s a historical novel based on the life of James Brooke. In the middle of the 19th century he went Borneo where, in exchange for some help that he gave to the native ruler, he was given his own small country. It was called Sarawak and he and his family continued to rule it for around 100 years. The story concentrates on some of the conflicts in the early years of his rule. It’s principally a romantic adventure but it does also touch on some serious issues about the nature of colonialism and what happens when people become militarily involved in the affairs of other countries. I tried to keep it short and relatively light with lots of romance and excitement compared to the more serious bits.

Tell us about your next release. I’m working on a novel based on the Indian Mutiny. It should be ready to be published this year but it won’t be if I don’t put my head down and write more.

Where do you research for your books? I used to spend a lot of time in quite specialist libraries but, thanks to the wonder of the internet, I’m now able to do most of my research from home. My first book is based in Sarawak and I did visit there, though the idea of the book came after the visit, so it hardly counts as research. I’m working on a book set in Argentina and I did spend some time specifically researching there. I’m also writing about India and I’d love to get there too but I don’t think I’m going to make it.

Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they? Start writing. There’s no preparation like putting those words on paper. Write anything. Then be critical, tear it up and write something else. Keep on until you’re happy with it, then show it to other people, take their comments on board, tear it up and write something else. Repeat until you have something you can submit to an agent. Take their comments on board… You know where this is going by now, don’t you?

Do you hear from your readers? What kinds of questions do they ask? Yes, occasionally, which is nice. They ask about whether Brooke really was gay, which seems much more of an issue than I would ever have expected. And I get questions about the history of Sarawak which have me desperately running for my notes. When Anthony Brooke died recently, a few people picked up on this and asked me about him. I had never heard of him before he died. He lived long after the time I was writing about and he was never technically the Rajah but I read up about his life and he does seem to have been a very interesting character. I blogged about him if anyone wants to know more. (

What are you passionate about these days? Dancing the tango. It’s a passionate dance.

What hobbies do you actively pursue? I dance tango, I ski and I spend a lot of time rollerblading.

What would we find under your bed?
Lots and lots of tango shoes. (There’s a theme developing here, isn’t there?)

What do you do to unwind and relax?
I go to a small place in the country miles away from anywhere with no phone or TV. While I’m there I read a lot and go for long walks. It’s lovely.