A few years back I told my editor at Random House that I had some ideas for a novel. The answer came back promptly. ‘Good. How about something set in the New Zealand goldfields? Probably a romance. They’re selling well in Germany.’ I was taken aback. ‘Er – um – er, – ‘ I said. ‘I’ll think about it’.
I wasn’t too surprised – New Zealand has always had a profile at the Frankfurt book fair. But a goldfield romance novel? I never did follow that up. And a few weeks ago Random released a goldfield romance novel.
Not written by yours truly. By somebody else – by one of New Zealand’s best novelists, in fact. That’s for the best too. Not really my thing, romance novels. So you won’t hear me going ‘aaaaaugh’ after staring a gift horse in the mouth from one of the big houses. Fact is, one of the books I did write – and which Random published – ended up on the New Zealand non-fiction top five best seller lists for a couple of months. Then it sat in the top thirty for a year or so. It’s still selling today. It’s called Big Ideas – you can buy it online if you’re interested.
It all worked out for the best – there’s a great novel out there, by someone who’s really good at it. I got on with books that have sold very well. Everybody wins. Besides, like the Cylons, I have a plan. (Cue dramatic chord, sneaky look and evil laugh.)
Have you ever turned down an apparently promising offer, then have something as good come along?
Meanwhile, I got a box of books today – my author copies of Convicts – New Zealand’s Hidden Criminal Past. The excitement builds. Penguin are publishing the print edition in a fortnight, e-book to follow on Kobo. It’s about New Zealand’s early nineteenth century, a time full of complex characters, wild adventures and excitement. It’s about escaped criminals trying to do good, ship captains trying to do bad – and it’s way better than a novel, because it’s all true. You can pre-order the print edition right now, from Fishpond, New Zealand’s online bookstore.
Get ready for the online launch event. Watch this space.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2012