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Blog Archive June 2007

Spanish edition of Spirit House

My Spanish publisher has bought the Spanish rights to Spirit House . They plan to bring it out early in 2008. Ediciones Paidos Iberica has already published the Spanish edition of Zero Hour in Phnom Penh .

On 3rd July I am off to Madrid to assist in the promotion of the Spanish edition of Zero Hour in Phnom Penh . As previously mentioned on this blog, I have also been invited to attend the 20th anniversary of Semana Negra or Black week. On 6th July, I will board the ‘black train’ in Madrid along with other writers, publishers, journalists, and artists that will deliver us to Gijon on the Atlantic coast of Spain. There is a full program involving a lot of writers. The festival kicks off with the arrival of the black train from Madrid on 6th and ends on 15th July. After the festival, I will fly to Barcelona for media interviews.

That means I have another 6 days to master Spanish. Well, as they say, good luck. I suspect speaking Thai won’t get me a bottle of beer (perhaps smashed on my head).

Most likely I won’t have much of a chance to blog while on the road.

I will return with a report on the Spanish tour at the end of July.

Posted: 6/27/2007 5:27:12 AM 


Booking a Seat on the Space Shuttle

Many of us have that dream of riding the space shuttle above the earth and looking down at the blue planet. To see the world as a whole spinning through space, and to appreciate how small, fragile and beautiful it is. To find the language to convey those images would challenge anyone. To find the language to talk about the next best thing for a writer – the big publishing deal – is also difficult. I still have that same unreal experience thinking about Calvino being delivered to a much larger world.

The United States and Great Britain

The dream of every writer is to be published by one of the top publishers in New York. Anyone involved in publishing knows that the odds are long for such a publishing deal. There are many interconnected factors, including timing, the perceived market, the quality of the writing, the genre of the book, the track record of the author, and so on. Then one day it happens to you. Out of the blue a substantial offer comes from your literary agent. And if that isn’t a writer’s dream come true, it is time to roll over and stop dreaming.

It is now official. Grove Press has bought 4-books in the Vincent Calvino series. The publishing schedule is for a hardback edition of The Risk of Infidelity Index and a trade paperback edition of Spirit House to be released in January 2008. Atlantic Press in London will also publish an English edition of both titles in January 2008. In 2009, two more Calvino novels will be published.

Calvino Number 10 (no working title yet) will be published as a hardback edition in January 2009 along with another Calvino title from the existing back listed. No decision has been made as to whether the back list title will be Cold Hit or Pattaya 24/7. Grove Press has made a major financial commitment to the series and the publisher has what all writers wish for: a huge passion for the books and a long-track successful record in publishing fiction for the international market.

In other rights news, I have had news about Thai and Turkish editions of my novels.


Siam Inter Multimedia will release Thai editions of Pattaya 24/7 (June 2007) and A Killing Smile (July 2007).


Turkish rights have been sold for 4 books to EYAYINLARI. The Istanbul based publisher will translate and publish: A Killing Smile, The Risk of Infidelity Index, Cold Hit, and A Haunting Smile. A Killing Smile will appear in Turkish in December 2007. The Risk of Infidelity Index is scheduled for 31st July 2008. Cold Hit is scheduled for 31st December 2008. And A Haunting Smile is scheduled for 31st May 2009.

Posted: 6/19/2007 1:18:38 AM 


Collectable Editions

From J.K. Rowlings to J.R.R. Tolkien, publishers are finding that collectable editions have a good market. Galleycat pointed out that Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policeman’s Union and Chuck Palahnuik’s Rant (and reviewed on this blog recently) have collectable editions at $150.00 a pop.

The Wall Street Journal did a story about the collectable edition trend and the market for such books. The articles goes on to note, “In Britain, a limited, signed edition of Ian McEwan's new novel, "On Chesil Beach," has almost sold out at nearly $200 a copy; one is now being offered on eBay for as much as $370.”

For book collectors and lovers, the rarity of a limited deluxe edition makes for an interesting addition to the library, a conversation item, and, if one is lucky, an investment.

I have two limited editions and still have copies:

The Special edition of A Killing Smile (only 275 signed, numbered hardback copies, with leather cover and box). The price: $275.00

The Special edition of Gambling on Magic (125 copies, numbered hardback copies). The price: $49.95

To give you an idea of the market for collectable copies of my books, go to amazon.uk Prices for Spirit House are as follows:

Used - Very Good
Seller: anybook-uk
Rating: 91% positive over the past 12 months (15172 ratings.) 19096 lifetime ratings.
Delivery: In stock. Dispatched from FL, United States International delivery available See delivery rates
Comments: Nice Book, Delivery in 1-2 weeks.

Used - Good
Seller: hippo_orders
Rating: 85% positive over the past 12 months (9311 ratings.) 12088 lifetime ratings.
Delivery: In stock. Dispatched from GA, United States International delivery available See delivery rates
Comments: SHIPS FROM THE UNITED STATES VIA AIR MAIL. SHOULD ARRIVE WITHIN 21 BUSINESS DAYS. Hundreds of thousands of items in stock. ... ( » more )

Used - Good
Seller: experiencedbooks_uk
Rating: 91% positive over the past 12 months (985 ratings.) 1251 lifetime ratings.
Delivery: In stock. Dispatched from CA, United States Expedited delivery available International delivery available See delivery rates
Comments: 1992 Paperback. 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed! Good to Very Good condition. Good, tight readable copy with typical reading wea... ( » more )

Given those figures, I’d say the price for the remaining copies of the special editions of A Killing Smile and Gambling on Magic are a bargain.

Posted: 6/12/2007 6:04:21 AM 


Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey (Hardcover) by Chuck Palahnuik

People who work the dead end jobs in offices, factories, amusement parks, and restaurants haunt Chuck Palahnuik’s world. Or they have no job at all. They occupy the dead zone of the modern urban world. His characters– The Fight Club, Survivor, Choke, and Diary (are the previous novels I have read) – share a common trait: they are cut loose from the mainstream, and drift along with their head just above the water line. In Rant, one character says, “What if reality is nothing but some dream?” Most of his characters fold up in a world of self-absorption, self-hatred, self-mutilation, and self-destruction. A “self” preoccupies them that is empty of content and their lives are spent seeking to pour some meaning into that empty vessel. They have nothing to lose but blood and guts, and the gore splattered wide and far somehow redeems them.

Another recurring theme in Rant is the hidden lives, secret hurt and damage, and private games of revenge. They piss in people’s soup, organize fight clubs, or crash cars as a kind of rite of passage. Mostly they come out with cuts, bruises, and broken bones and, as in the case of Rant, they die. There is a message buried in Rant and other of Palahnuik’s books, that no matter how clean, sober and upright you lead your life some freak disease, accident, madman, random gunshot can cut you down. No one is safe. No place is safe. As one of the characters in Rant says, “We are all in the same boat.”

Those who fight back in Rant find their cars as an outlet for aggression. They have theme nights for their crash parties. Mattress night, dead deer night, honeymoon night. These teenagers dress up and with their own odd-ball set of rules set out in the night to wound, maim and secure victory.

The main character in Rant is a young man who comes from a dysfunctional family. His mother puts small toys and thumbtacks in food. It makes people eat slower. Rant seeks out all forms of poisonous creatures from spiders to snakes, and enjoys the pain of being bitten. He has rabies and passes this disease on wide and far. The story is told from the point of view of those whom either participated in or witnessed the world that Rant occupied.

Chuck Palahnuik’s books often have an unusual structure and Rant is not exception. As a story telling technique, the outside observer reporting as in an email creates a sense of detachment. The reader is kept at a distance. But when it succeeds we are privileged to a world of competing voices, each an original seeking to bring some meaning to Rant’s world. The set pieces on the history of disease and rare coins were interesting but cloying, showing research rather than embedding it in the story, and as a result as interesting as the historical elements are, they distract from the main story. Where Rant succeeds is inventing a world where people seek to be in control, and do everything in their power to gain control. Of course, that is impossible, as they are overcome by their greed, stupidity, prejudices, and ignorance.

Chuck Palahnuik’s world reminds me of Michel Houellebecq, the French author of Platform. A world that is dark, dangerous, where sex is just another car ride in a capitalistic system designed to use you as fuel, burn you up, and throw you aside.

Posted: 6/7/2007 12:17:56 AM 


The Risk of Infidelity Index: Chini’s painting – Real or imaginary?

I have been asked by Terry Fitzgerald whether the painting by Galileo Chini (1873 – 1956) mentioned in RISK was a product of my imagination or actually exist. Chini was a real painter and did spend time, at the invitation of King Chulalongkorn, as a guest in Siam. Until my wife and I visited Florence last year, I had been unaware of Chini’s painting. I studied his Bangkok New Year painting carefully. Chini captured some of the exotic magic of the time, and provided me with an opportunity to develop more of the back-story of Calvino’s personal connection with Bangkok.

Here is a reproduction of Chini’s painting of Chinese New Year, Bangkok dated 1912.

The Gallery Francesca Antonacci in Rome is holding a special exhibition of Chini’s paintings 16 May – 30 June 2007. For more details: info@francescaantonacci.com - www.francescaantonacci.com

Posted: 6/4/2007 4:04:10 AM 


Tonight with Tom Mintier

On Friday 8th June I am being interviewed on Tom Mintier’s talk show. Tune in to True Channel UBC news cable station at 22.10. The program last an hour. My interview will last about 20 minutes.

I will be talking about my books as well as discussing my deal with a New York publisher that will see the Vincent Calvino series launched in both North America and Great Britain. That’s right, no need to read that sentence again, Vinny will be coming out in New York and London starting with two-books in January 2008.

Tom is an old Asia hand and ex-London Bureau Chief for CNN. Many people will remember Tom from his coverage of hot spots along the globe. He is a one of a dying breed of journalists who started out covering the Vietnam War and became an expert on Southeast Asia political affairs. Like his colleague John Lewis, ex-Tokyo Bureau Chief for CNN, Tom reminds me of an era when expertise, communication skills combined an in depth knowledge of the region mattered.

Posted: 6/3/2007 11:34:04 PM 



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