The Second Coming of D’Artagnan

It’s been a wonderful week. The Guardian Books Blog publicly called me “a D’Artagnan”. Yep, that’s right, one of the Three Musketeers – voila no-2-launch-043c’est moi – brave and clever because I set up a publishing house to challenge the UK’s homogenous reading culture. And successfully so. Because  here comes the second good news of the week: Stone in a Landslide is going into reprint.

And there is a third piece of good news. To reveal it, however, I have to tell you a little story.

About three weeks ago I got a phone call from an agent. She had just received an  English translation of a short Bulgarian novel which sounded right up Peirene’s street. Some days later I received an email from the same agent. The editors from Penguin and the likes were buzzing about the novel. Did I want to make a bid too? I declined as I know that I cannot compete against the majors. However just last week, the agent called again. The majors had sadly withdrawn their interest. While the editors had been thrilled, their sales teams weren’t – and so none of them will make an offer.

My ears perked up. Editors say yes, sales teams say no – all the signs are that this is a very good book which however doesn’t fit the mass market criteria. I will now definitely read it.

It’s Peirene, who was dead keen that I tell you this little anecdote. In her eyes that’s really the ultimate success story of the past week, as it is a proof yet again how much she values the quality of the text – and how little she rates mass-market appeal.

In regard to the other two news items, my nymph shows less enthusiasm. She is of course  happy about Stone’s second print  run, but she is absolutely not sure about the value of the D’Artagnan bit. She says it’s utterly childish of me to blurt it out here.

Frankly, I think she’s in a sulk. Because the article referred to me, the publisher, not her, the all-conquering nymph.  I’ve tried to sooth her jealousy by offering to take a picture of her all dressed up as the female version of  D’Artagnan. “Thank you very much,” she huffed “I am not being made a fool of. Do it yourself.”

So I did. And franchement, I make a far more stylish Musketeer than her. If she wants to go back to Greece – then let her.  Anyway I don’t need a nymph any longer. I need a horse, a white mare preferably. Then I can ride through night and fog and save poor readers from the onslaught of mediocre books.

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