I blogged recently about my forthcoming full-length novel, Sex and the Summit.
I originally planned to publish it on Amazon Kindle, as I have recently published, by way of a dry run, three of my “wonderful, feminist and dark” Hotel Stories. But I’ve now decided to delay publication of Sex and the Summit for a while.
Hood ornament in Sevastopol, 2008 – Photo Robert Pimm
Some people have asked: why didn’t you publish Sex and the Summit through a conventional publisher?
The answer is that I’d love to. I have six rather excellent novels awaiting publication. Unfortunately, although I’ve several times come within a hair’s breadth of seeing one of them published, it has never quite happened. This is of course a tragedy for me (and, arguably, for my potential readers). But I have kept trying the traditional publishing route.
Then, earlier this year, Russia seized control of and “annexed” Crimea. This made me keener to publish at least some of my fiction on-line.
What’s the connection?
Well, several of my novels contain elements of politics and current affairs. My most recent novel is a thriller called A Killing in Sevastopol, set in 2017. It’s about a British spy in Moscow, John Savage, who in 2007 is framed by two FSB operatives who post on-line a video of him stabbing to death one of his agents in a wood outside the city. Ten years later, in 2017, Savage has transferred from SIS to a regular diplomatic post; and arrives on temporary duty in Ukraine at a time of military tension between Ukraine and Russia over the presence of the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol in Crimea. Visiting the Cabinet of Ministers in Kyiv, Savage is shocked to see one of the FSB agents from Moscow calling on the corrupt Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister for Energy, Oleg Maximov. Later, following an exchange of gunfire which leaves the Russian badly wounded, the FSB man begs Savage to help him. What should Savage do?
A Killing in Sevastopol is terrific. Savage is a great character and there are plenty of other big hitters, including Maximov; obsessive German (or is he?) hit-man Christian Slavsky; gay SIS operative Ram Kuresh; and the brilliant and beautiful Ukrainian journalist, Natasha Ermolenko. My literary agent David Grossman almost got it published in 2012 but, unfortunately, not quite.
A Killing in Sevastopol, like all my novels, is a work of fiction. I never expected real life events to sail so close to my imaginary ones. The principle of countries not marching into neighbouring countries and trying to pinch bits of their territory has been a key principle underlying peace and stability in Europe since 1945.
Russia’s actions mean that the story of A Killing in Sevastopol is, depending on your point of view, either prescient or, possibly, overtaken by events.
Someone commented recently that I should stop making political predictions in my novels in case they come true.
My novel “Sex and the Summit” is a comedy rather than a thriller, and makes few, if any, political predictions. But the story is still, potentially, vulnerable to political developments.
This means that I did see a case for making Sex and the Summit available to readers sooner rather than later. So far I haven’t managed to persuade a publisher to print it. But I hope eventually it and all my novels will be massive best-sellers and publishers will be scratching each other’s eyes out to buy them for hard-copy publication. If you’re a publisher, do get in touch. Ditto if you’re a film producer – I have a worked-up film treatment for Sex and the Summit ready to go from when I sold a two-year option for an earlier version of the novel to a German TV production company. The film was not made, and the rights have reverted to me.
Meanwhile, A Killing in Sevastopol is still available. It would also, like Sex and the Summit or my novel Biotime, make a terrific movie.