|A dozen roses? A box of chocolates? Well, not exactly…
That would certainly be a nice way to mark Valentine’s Day, but I’m already several days late, and fresh out of flowers and candy. So all I can offer are my heartfelt best wishes—plus my usual self-serving news report.
And the first item to report is that we’re back. In mid-January my Frequent Companion and I flew to Queenstown, New Zealand, for a Zegrahm Expeditions cruise of that nation’s sub-Antarctic islands aboard the Caledonian Sky. We saw great quantities of penguins, no end of other seabirds, and a dead whale. And we saw this bold fellow, a skua. He and his fellows were a not entirely benign presence at the penguin rookeries, strutting around like thugs and functioning as quasi-scavengers; they didn’t necessarily wait for their dinner to die of natural causes. Nor did they show any concern at the presence of humans, beyond looking at us as if wondering about our possible nutritional value.
It’s good you made it back.
And it’s good to be back. It’s been a long time between newsletters, so let me lead off by reporting the ePublication of a brand-new short story, Gym Rat. It’s part of a new venture by The Center for Fiction, an indispensable NYC institution combining a superb library and an energetic cultural center, all devoted to the reading and writing of fiction. I was invited to contribute a story, to be paired with another by a gifted new writer and offered in tandem by Amazon as a Kindle Single. I think you’ll like Matt Plass’s story, and I hope you’ll like mine; you get ’em both for a mere $2.99, and you’ll be supporting TCF in the process. (I believe some of your $2.99 will find its way to me and Mr. Plass, though I doubt either of us will be taking skua-seeking cruises on our share of the proceeds.)
That’s all I’ve written since last year’s two novellas, Resume Speed (just out from Subterranean Press, whose site shows both the limited and hardcover trade editions presently out-of-print) and Keller’s Fedora (due in April from Subterranean, and last I checked they were still taking orders for both the limited and the trade hardcover. The limited, I can assure you, will be gone soon, and the trade edition may be fully subscribed by publication date.)
Note too that both of these novellas are available in ebook and audiobook form. Theo Holland’s audio of Resume Speed has drawn nothing but raves, in which I concur; Keller’s Fedora is narrated by the author, so I can’t comment on its merits, but am able at least to assure you it’s been well received by the listening public.
It’s very satisfying to have so much of my work in audio, and the program’s an ongoing one. Theo Holland, who’s also voiced Four Lives at the Crossroads and The Adulterers, is wrapping up the first Evan Tanner novel, The Thief Who Couldn’t Sleep. Here’s the web page with all our audios presently available, and a list of what’s coming soon.
And now for something completely different:
Wow! That’s plenty different, all right. What is it?
What does it look like?
Well, it looks like a Scudder book, but I don’t see Matt’s name on the cover. Or yours either, for that matter.
That’s because you can’t read Hindi. Neither can I, but millions of people can and do, and now they have the opportunity to meet Matthew Scudder in The Sins of the Fathers.
And how did this come about? As some of you know, I’ve been teaming up with translators to self-publish some of my books on a co-op basis. German editions of Scudder books have been leading the way, with a good showing in Spanish and Italian as well.
I mentioned all this on social media, as the trickiest element lies in getting the word out. (My fans and followers are almost entirely English speakers, so how do I find a likely audience in another language? And yes, that’s a good question.) And two Facebook friends, Ishan and Alka Shrivedi, said I really ought to publish in Hindi. Fine, I said. Wanna do some translating?
Then it got complicated. While ebooks in Hindi are available on Amazon for Kindle, their self-publishing platform does not support the Hindi alphabet; Ishan and Alka delivered a translation, my six-armed Goddess of Design and Production bought a Hindi font and managed the Herculean task of creating an ebook—and I found myself incapable of publishing the damned thing.
Undaunted—well, not overly daunted, anyway—we decided we’d do it as a paperback. That meant the Goddess had to produce a pdf in an alien alphabet, a task which was neither a walk in the park nor a dip in the Ganges. But she got it done, and I published it via CreateSpace. The product description’s in English, not Hindi, as it turns out one can’t upload the Hindi alphabet to CreateSpace’s platform, but the book itself is all-Hindi-all-the-time, and I now have a work in print in that language for the first time in six decades as a published writer.
The cover art, as shown on Amazon and bn.com, has a word misspelled. Not to worry; the book itself has the correct cover, which you can see for yourself in the CreateSpace store.
Will you and the Shrivedis be doing more Scudder books?
That depends. If the demand’s there, we’ll keep going. Y’all can help—by letting Hindi readers know about it. Readers in Mumbai and Bangalore are a natural audience—they can order right here—but Hindi speakers in the US might prove even more receptive; I know from Russian and Turkish and Chinese New Yorkers how keenly they appreciate books in their native languages set in the city in which they now live.
I don’t think I know any Hindi speakers. But there’s an Indian restaurant I’m crazy about. You think the book would be a good tip for my favorite waiter?
What a wonderful idea! I wouldn’t be surprised if it got you a side of bhindi bhaji along with your next order of rogan josh. Worth a shot— and so’s any other method you can think of to spread the word.
And I’m happy to say that the word’s beginning to get around in Spanish and Italian—and especially in German, where our Scudder self-publishing list stands at three short stories and five novels…and counting. The newest additions, both translated by Sepp Leeb, are Acht Millionen Wege zu sterben (Eight Million Ways to Die) and Nach der Sperrstunde (When the Sacred Ginmill Closes). Both are available in ebook and paperback form, and on all Amazon platforms; here, for convenience, are links to amazon.de for Acht Millionen Wege zu sterben and Nach der Sperrstunde.)
We have more of Sepp’s fine translations in the pipeline, starting with #7—Out on the Cutting Edge, and Stefan Mommertz’s translation of #4—A Stab in the Dark—is due soon.
Turning to Spanish, MªCarmen de Bernardo Martínez is working on a translation of Hit List to follow El Sicario, her rendition of Hit Man. La noche y la música is picking up readers for Ana and Enriqueta Carrington, now hard at work on A Stab in the Dark. Ditto Jordi García’s
Los ladrones no pueden eccoger.
In Italian, Luigi Garlaschelli followed La Notte e la Musica with Il Ladro nella Biblioteca. That’s The Burglar in the Library, and he’s at work now on another Bernie Rhodenbarr epic, The Burglar on the Prowl.
You know what, LB? It would be nice if there was one place where we could find all your books in other languages.
Actually, you’re not the first person to have that thought. There’s now an area at lawrenceblock.com called In Translation with pages for the various languages; it is very much a work in progress, but you might want to check it out and bookmark it for future reference.
Meanwhile, I thought I’d update you on In Sunlight or in Shadow.
Well, how could I not? In all my years on the job, I’ve never written anything that’s drawn anywhere near as much press as this anthology. Reviews, blog posts, interviews—all sorts of media attention, and all for a book I wasn’t sure anyone would want to publish.
Pegasus Books not only published it, they did so while putting their shoulder to the wheel and their nose to the grindstone—and kept their eye on the ball all the while. It’s a gorgeous book, and while I can understand why you might prefer to read the stories in electronic form, or to listen while voice artists read them, you’ll still want to have the physical book in your hands—and on your coffee table of bookshelf.
When I got the idea for ISOIS, I knew it was a good one. Once my wish list of writers signed on one after another, I could see we’d have a hell of a lineup. What I didn’t know, because it’s never knowable, is that the stories themselves would be of such a high level of excellence. Yes, good writers tend to write good stories, and yes, Hopper’s paintings provide plenty of inspiration. That made my expectations high, but they were exceeded. There’s not a clinker in the bunch.
Of the five stories nominated for MWA’s Edgar Allan Poe awards this year, two (Stephen King’s and *blush* my own) are in ISOIS, while two others are by ISOIS authors (Megan Abbott and Joyce Carol Oates).
Who’s the fifth?
Laura Benedict—and next time I do an anthology, I’ll see if I can get her to come to the table.
I heard your next anthology is in the works.
You heard correctly. It’ll be coming from Pegasus in December, and it’s organized on the same principle as ISOIS—great writers with great stories inspired by great paintings. But instead of a single artist, each writer has chosen a painting by a different artist.
Title is Alive in Shape and Color, and almost all of the ISOIS contributors have re-upped for AISAC; they’re joined by Thomas Pluck, Sarah Weinman, David Morrell, and SJ Rozan. And I’ll mention just a few of the painters: Paul Gauguin, Rene Magritte, Hokusai, Vincent van Gogh, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Norman Rockwell, Salvador Dali.
I won’t oversell the book at this stage. I have all but two stories in hand, and I think they’re terrific, but why hype the book when it’s still too early to pre-order it? Rest assured I’ll give you ample notice.
And, while it seems to me that there was something else I was bursting to tell you, I can’t think what it could have been. If it comes to mind you’ll find it in the next newsletter—which will no doubt be cluttering your inbox before you know it.
Until then, Happy Valentine’s Day—and think of me not as five days late but 359 days early. No chocolates, alas, but scroll down for a rose. Mind the thorns now…
PS: As always, please feel free to forward this to anyone you think might find it of interest. (Especially if you know folks who might want to know about our Hindi, German, Spanish and Italian editions!) And, if you yourself have received the newsletter from a friend and would like your own subscription, that’s easily arranged; a blank email to email@example.com with Newsletter in the subject line will get the job done.
LB’s Blog and Website
LB’s Facebook Fan Page