Friday, September 11, 2015
"How He Brought the Good News from Hicks to Gwent"**
If I were to say that A TRUE FRIEND TO CHINA is a best-seller the lie detectors would ping loudly. In the US alone, quite a small country, sixty five copies have already sold off www.quakerbooks.org, which isn't bad. However, virtually all sales are to FAU families, specialist sinophiles and personal friends that I embarrass into buying one from me. Perhaps not surprisingly though, almost none go to casual readers I don't know.
But there is one striking exception, a sale to a guy I know as 'notstevejones'. This was the moniker by which he emailed me from Thailand, telling me that he had read the 'Jack Reynolds' novel of 1956, A WOMAN OF BANGKOK, and that he was smitten by it. He just couldn't wait to read my new book and to learn more about his namelysakely pseudonymous Jack Jones who had written a book so long ago that still fizzed with life and relevance.
He was shortly returning from Bangkok to his usual domicile in South Wales and, unable to await the delay in sending the book by mail, could he please drive up from there to meet me somewhere in Hampshire to get a copy more urgently. Thus at the earliest possible moment he leaped on his classic Triumph motorcycle and roared east for many hours. I leaped into my equally (almost as) fast MG and pounded at least six miles west where we breathlessly met at a rainy bikers cafe.
Definitely notstevejones and mysterious, he remained Stig-like in leathers and helmet. I thrust the book into his hands, (not one of the rare unsigned editions), and the cameras flashed. He expressed himself to be truly grateful and I felt genuinely humbled that someone should value my efforts so highly.
You may think this is all a spoof but it isn't. Five years researching a book like this is a lonely business. When published the earth doesn't move and there is a resounding silence. However, just occasionally, like last weekend, somebody really goes out of their way to tell me how much they value what I have done and I appreciate this more that I can possibly say.
Thanks notsteve! It was a real pleasure meeting you and may there be many more like you.
** 'How they brought the good news from Ghent to Aix' is a poem by Robert Browning about a crazy journey that was shoved down my throat at school. It seemed vaguely appropriate for the title above.