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Actually, it’s a bit embarrassing. Here we are in the middle of February and this the first message I’ve posted in 2008. Apologies all round to those of you who are regular visitors to this website. On the other hand, if you are regular visitors, you’ll know how irregular I am with my blogs. HHQ at Central Control keeps on sending me threatening emails but I have been busy (as I’m about to explain) and abroad and worn out after 2007.
Let’s start there! 2007 was an amazing year with the publication of SNAKEHEAD which seems to have gone down really well. For some reason, even when I’m pleased with a book, I get hugely nervous just before publication and there seemed to be a lot riding on the 7th Alex Rider. Well, I’ve read the reviews and signed enough copies to know that people enjoyed it and that almost nobody guessed the twist at the end. I loved writing SNAKEHEAD. I’m always being asked which is my favourite Alex and although I’m never sure of the answer, I’d put this one right up there in the top three – with SCORPIA and SKELETON KEY.
The paperback of SNAKEHEAD comes out in April and I have to say that Walker Books have given it an amazingly slinky cover. They also persuaded me to write an extra chapter which, among other things, tells you what A.S.H. stands for. But just so I can’t be accused of ripping everyone off by making them buy a whole book just to see a single chapter, you’ll be able to download it free from Walker Books’ new website. Details are inside the book – just take a look at it in the store.
Anyway, at the end of the year I managed to sneak away for a three-week family holiday in Jamaica and Cuba. Came back with a tan and a liver complaint…all that rum! No drinking since them. I’m also on the alphabet diet, my own invention. You give up alcohol, biscuits, chocolate, desserts, eggs, fries and keep going until you’re only allowed to eat yoghurt and zucchini. By which time you’ve either lost weight or died. I’m not sure I recommend it.
2008 began with a tour of the USA which, to be honest, I had been rather dreading. I love meeting readers in America but fourteen cities in sixteen days, airport security systems where you almost have to strip down to your boxers just to get on the flight, late finishes and early starts, hotel after hotel…it can all get a bit exhausting and you can’t be sure that when you arrive to give your talk, anyone will actually show up.
Well, this tour was brilliant. It seems that Alex Rider has finally landed across the Atlantic. The books have been in the bestseller lists for forty-nine weeks in a row and SNAKEHEAD sold over 200,000 copies. I don’t mean to sound boastful but my publishers at Penguin are a cut-throat lot and if the sales ever dip, my next tour will be in some of the more remote parts of Alaska and they won’t supply a plane.
I started in New York and then went up to Philadelphia, back to New York, down to Miami, over to Cincinnati, then Chicago, Iowa City, Des Moines and Kansas City. Then we nipped up to Vancouver in Canada before returning to Seattle, San Francisco, La Jolla and Los Angeles. Apologies if I’ve missed anyone out.
I was amazed by the size of the audiences I was getting and by the vast range of questions. (As you may know, I never give long talks…I’m too scared of boring people. I prefer Q&A sessions and making stuff up as I go along). Some favourite sessions. The Peter Norton Symphony Space in New York was great…interviewed by John Shea who acted as Lex Luthor in the TV version of Superman. Books & Books in Coral Gables, Florida was a real eye-opener. I thought people in Florida didn’t read – but this is one of the liveliest bookshops I’ve ever visited. I did an amazing event at the Tivoli Theatre which was a beautiful 1920’s building near Chicago. It was completely packed out and after I’d finished my session, they showed the movie of Stormbreaker. I loved hearing Alex Pettyfer being gunned down again (and surviving) while I was signing books outside. I got to talk in a temple for Rainy Day Books in Kansas City. And I’ve got to mention another bookstore, Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park, CA. They’d gone to town with computer-disc entrance tickets and packed in a huge crowd. It was a great evening.
Six years ago, I remember going to a Barnes & Noble in a shopping mall somewhere and although ninety seats were set out, only two kids came. In the end, I didn’t give a talk. I just bought them each a coffee. But when I think how far I’ve come, it brings a lump to my throat…although that may be my wife’s cooking.
I didn’t come home after America. Instead, I got on a fifteen-hour flight from Los Angeles to Hong Kong and that’s where we get to current work in progress.
I’m now about half-way through NECROPOLIS: CITY OF THE DEAD – and I’m hugely enjoying writing the new book, Volume Four in the series which is called THE GATEKEEPERS in the USA and THE POWER OF FIVE in England. If you haven’t read RAVEN’S GATE, EVIL STAR and NIGHTRISE, please do! I never use these occasional blogs to sell myself but I think this series is shaping up to be really special.
NECROPOLIS is very different to anything I’ve done so far. It’s in three parts. The first part is narrated by Scarlett. Yes…I’ve finally created a heroine! It’s also been a long time since I’ve written a book in the first person. The second part is narrated by Matt. The third part is told by me. A lot of the book is set in Hong Kong (obviously) but it also takes place in Peru, London and – believe it or not – the Ukraine. The basic set up is that the Old Ones find Scar, who is the fifth of the five, and use her as the bait in a trap to capture Matt.
So far, it’s easily the scariest and darkest book I’ve ever written. It’s also the violent although my two editors at Walker Books – both violent women themselves – will probably bully me into making cuts. We’ll see. I had a fantastic time in Hong Kong, tracking down the locations (I also took the jet foil to Macau, which is a small island about an hour away and which features in the story) and picking up the atmosphere. I loved the city although it’s a consumer nightmare. You’ve never seen so many Armani suits and Rolex Watches. I wouldn’t have thought there were enough people with enough money in the world to buy all the stuff you see in the windows.
I expect to deliver the manuscript to Walker in about three months. Expect publication in April next year.
But before that, Walker are bringing out a new collection of horror stories, my third. I wrote these off and on last year in quiet moments before SNAKEHEAD came out – and I think they’re fun. One of the stories is called THE MAN WHO KILLED DARREN SHAN. That will teach him to write rude things about my books! (Incidentally, I hear a rumour that there’s a character based on me in his next one. Are there any spies in the Shan camp who can let me know if this is true?)
“Spies!? Where? Darren Who? I’ll have them all shot immediately!” – Xero
One other small bit of news before I stop and go to bed (I’m writing this in Orford, Suffolk. The dog and I did a four-hour walk today so we’re both worn out. He’s snoring so loudly that the whole house is vibrating). You may have read that I was writing a television drama – Raffik – for the Fox Network in America. Well, not any more! I was forced to go on strike by the Writers Guild of America and so the *~#$£+&% sacked me. Can you believe it? At least they’d paid me, but that’s not the point. I thought it was a good show and now we’ll never know. Oh well, at least that gives me more time to get on with the next Alex. I’m leaving for Russia later this year…
But I’ll write about that next time. This has stretched to three pages so I hope Control will leave me alone for a while.
I hope you all have a great year…or what’s left of it.
13th February 2008 (Cass’s birthday)
Snakehead has been released. If you didn’t know that – then crawl out from whatever rock you’ve been living under and get a hold of the latest promotional swag from Walker Books at AlexRider.com
There is a downloadable Fan Pack including Bebo skin, MSN icons and wallpaper.
If that wasn’t enough there’s also a code cracking competition with prizes including a Nintendo Wii Console plus £200-worth of games, a signed copy of Snakehead and an exclusive limited edition Alex Rider t-shirt, postcard and poster.No comments
So Tuesday’s webchat was a great success, over 200 people showed up and asked Anthony all kinds of weird and wonderful questions.Anthony responded with some witty answers and some revealing information.
Questions included: Is it true you sold parts of your body for medical research?
You can find out all about it on the chat transcript …No comments