By Peter Stuart Smith (AKA Max Adams, James Barrington, James Becker, Tom Kasey and Jack Steel)
The last couple weeks been busy, and somewhat confusing. We’ve been on the road again, which is hardly unusual, driving up to Andorra from France, which means coping with a significant change in altitude. The house in France is just a few hundred feet above sea level, but to reach our home in the Principality we have to climb up to almost ten thousand feet at Pas de la Casa, on the northern border of the country, and then drop down on the other side. We actually live at an altitude of around four thousand five hundred feet, and getting acclimatised does take a little while.
We did the journey in our 4x4, as we always do in the winter because of the snow, only to find that there wasn’t any. The ski stations here are open, just, but the only snow that fell was towards the end of December, and we’ve literally been basking in the sun ever since we got back. It’s actually been warm enough to sit outside a café as long as you could find a spot out of the wind. For a ski resort, this definitely isn’t good news, but the forecast is that the snow will arrive towards the end of next week, so everybody here has their fingers crossed. We won’t be here to see it, because we’re off to southern Spain for about a week to stay with friends.
The reason for the confusion, I suppose, is because I’m working on three different books all at the same time. I’m editing the fifth ‘James Becker’ novel for Transworld, which has required a certain amount of rewriting to fill in some of the holes my editor identified in the plot. This, by the way, just confirms what I’ve always thought about authors: they are simply too close to their book to see errors which are glaringly obvious to a third party. This has meant focusing my mind again on events which took place in Europe at the end of the Second World War. I’ve nearly finished doing that, and I’ll be able to send the finished manuscript to Transworld next week.
In the meantime, I’m still ploughing on with the second Simon & Schuster novel, which has meant carrying out a lot of research about nineteenth century London to get the atmosphere and descriptions as accurate as I can manage, which is rather different from Germany and Poland in 1945. I’m now in the interesting position of probably having too much historical fact in the book, and too little story, so there’ll have to be quite a lot of rewriting and pruning to do before I deliver the finished product.
And I’m also in frequent contact with the American arm of Simon & Schuster, getting the last few details of the first ‘Jack Steel’ novel right for the US market, and answering queries raised by the copy editor. The ‘Americanization’ of the book was comparatively painless, the changes to the spelling and punctuation only throwing up a handful of errors, but I still had to read the entire manuscript again, just to make sure. All of which takes time, of course.
The good news is that despite Christmas and New Year, I’m still pretty much on track and on time with regard to deadlines.
That’s the other thing about being an author: you never actually stop working. As soon as one manuscript has been finished and delivered, you’re already working on – or at least thinking about – the next one. And no sooner have you started working on book two, than you have start editing book one. It really is a continual process, constantly reading, constantly writing, and constantly correcting. Some people would hate it – I’m lucky, because I love it.
And finally this week, eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that one of my aliases – ‘Philip Berenson’ – has disappeared from the list above, and a new name – ‘Tom Kasey’ – has appeared. This is just a slight rejigging of my noms de plume, because names on the spines of books matter. I came to the conclusion that ‘Philip Berenson’ sounds faintly literary – and the one thing my books aren’t is literary – while ‘Tom Kasey’ sounds like the guy who lives next door or works in the local garage. That seems like a better choice to me. And while we’re on the subject, my novel The Omega Protocols was originally entitled Trade-off, and that’s what I’ve decided to go back to. And so Trade-off by ‘Tom Kasey’ will very soon be available as a Kindle download from The Endeavour Press.
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