Greetings from my still-in-isolation attic in the Blue Mountains!
While we are making good progress here in Australia fighting Covid-19, we have to be vigilant about the possibility of a ‘second wave.’ Our government and health professionals are doing an outstanding job, and I have no doubt that without their extraordinary efforts, we would be in deep trouble.
The general shut-down and l isolation have allowed me to make excellent progress with writing the next book. I am pleased to tell you that my team and I are ‘on track’ for a book launch in October!
With that in mind, it is now definitely the right time to tell you a little about the book to come, and this newsletter will therefore focus on this subject.
THE NEXT BOOK
Those of you familiar with my work – and this would of course include most of you – know that I draw heavily on historic events and current affairs for inspiration. In addition, I introduce subjects into my storylines and characters that are of particular interest to me. For example, spiritualism and ancient history (The Empress Holds the Key), the occult and Australian Aboriginal rock art (The Disappearance of Anna Popov), science and medical research (The Hidden Genes of Professor K), and cosmology (The Curious Case of the Missing Head), to name but a few.
That said, I am pleased to tell you that the next book is rather special in two ways: First, it deals with a period of Russian history that has fascinated me for a long time, namely, the murder of Tsar Nicholas II and his family in Yekaterinburg in 1918. This event had a profound influence on European history that can be felt to this very day.
Next, the subject of particular interest I am exploring in this book is music. The music of Tchaikovsky, one of my favourite composers.
I have endeavoured to once again weave fact and fiction into a seamless storyline featuring both, historic and fictional characters that will, hopefully, draw you into the story, and excite and entertain you.
The research for this book was huge, and involved extensive travel last year, especially through Russia.
As you know, I try to visit all the places mentioned in my books, and view all the relevant artefacts etc. that play a significant part in the story. Of particular interest here was my visit to St Petersburg where I spent time at the Peter and Paul Cathedral where all the Romanovs are buried,
Catherine’s Palace in Tsarskoye Selo,
and of course the Peterhof Palace and its stunning gardens.
These are all places featured in the book.
At the same time, I was also promoting the release of my last book, The Curious Case of the Missing Head, in Russia, while enjoying a warm welcome by my Russian readers.
In the weeks to come, I will tell you more about the book as part of the lead-up to publication. We will reveal and talk about the title, the key characters, and some of the cataclysmic events that are explored in the storyline. I believe that this will serve as a meaningful introduction to the book generally, and prepare the way for Jack Rogan’s next exciting adventure.
To pique your interest, I would like to leave you with a brief extract from the Author’s Note at the beginning of the book where I talk about three pivotal events that have become the inspiration for the storyline:
“The first was a wonderful concert. One of my readers, an eminent Russian musicologist I had corresponded with for years, knew that I was planning to delve into Tchaikovsky’s life and times, and kindly arranged tickets for a concert showcasing Tchaikovsky’s sublime music. During the stirring fourth movement of Symphony No.6, the Pathetique, with its sense of gloom and foreboding, my mind began to wander, and the first shoots of a new, much wider storyline began to take shape. I have no doubt, this was all due to the spell of this extraordinary city that was soon to captivate me and hold me in its grip. I also recalled the words of my friend at the beginning of the concert: ‘ If you want to get to know the soul of Russia, listen to its music.’
The next event that had a bearing on all this, was a visit to the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul where the Romanovs are buried. In addition to the Tchaikovsky research, I also wanted to explore the tragic history of Tsar Nicholas II and Rasputin, that enigmatic evil genius who contributed so much to his downfall. The tsar and his entire family were brutally slaughtered by the Bolsheviks in Yekaterinburg in July 1918, two and a half years after Rasputin himself had been murdered in the Yusopov Palace in St Petersburg. I have been fascinated by these cataclysmic events and what followed for years, and had planned to make them the centrepiece of the next book in the series. But first, I was going to write the novella about Tchaikovsky.
However, all of these plans evaporated as I stood in the crypt where Tsar Nicholas II was finally laid to rest on 17 July 1998, eighty years to the day after his murder. It was a deeply moving moment. For some reason I still can’t explain, I kept hearing the sombre notes of Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, my eyes firmly fixed on the last tsar’s modest sarcophagus in front of me, wondering…
A flash of inspiration often lasts for only a millisecond as an idea appears, but can have a profound influence on the creative process that shapes an entire book and ignites the passion needed to write it. And that is exactly what happened during that moment of reflection in that solemn place that day. The idea was simple enough: why not combine the storylines of the novella and the next book and create a Russian epic worthy not only of a great composer, but of a tragic chapter in Russian history that has changed the modern world?
The next day, I was taken to the Peterhof Palace by my Russian friend, and it was there while strolling through the stunning palace gardens with their spectacular fountains, golden statues and waterfalls that the ideas and story-threads all came together, forming the inspiration for this book. It was like opening a window to let in the sunshine. Once that window was opened, there was no turning back. I pulled the little notebook I always carry with me out of my pocket, sat down on a bench overlooking the fountains, and began to jot down an outline for this book.
That was how it all began. What is contained in the pages that follow, is the product of an inspired idea that floated into my mind’s eye in the Romanov crypt on that grey autumn afternoon as a whisper, and then turned into a literary symphony I hope you will enjoy.”
Finally, my newsletter wouldn’t be complete without the Reader Of The Month segment I always enjoy sharing with you.
READER OF THE MONTH
I received this wonderful email last month from Paula, in response to my July Newsletter in which I talked about the time it takes to write, and to publish a book. She was writing on behalf of her mother, Joree. This is what she had to say:
My 91 year old mother has now read all your books and she needs you to write faster.
Mommy has read EVERYTHING – starter library and all. She’s chomping at the bit for the next one. Although she has macular degeneration, she just cranks up the letter size on her iPad and reads like mad.
We both are eagerly awaiting your next book.
All the best,
This is without doubt one of the most delightful emails I’ve received recently, and that’s why you, Paula, and your mother Joree, are my Readers of the Month of July!
In conclusion, my friends, just another little reminder about the FREE Starter Library which can be downloaded right now by visiting my website and following the prompts.
STAY SAFE, STAY CHEERFUL, and please STAY IN TOUCH.
We are all in this together, and together we will get through this!