I’m sorry to have been away from here so long – I’ve been horribly busy with writing and non-writing stuff these past few months -, but I’m back with news that I hope will make up for my absence. The first is that the proofs of With a Zero at its Heart are finally back from the printers – copies are flying my way as I write – and I couldn’t be happier. The cover, specially designed by Vaughan Oliver, is graced with an endorsement by the very special Caroline Smailes and the whole package is a thing of beauty. I’ll be testing its effect on an audience next week, on Wednesday 19 March, at the British Institute in Florence, where I’ll be doing a reading with one of my favourite writers, Matthew Licht. We’ll be reading our own, and each other’s work, and there will be wine, I’ve been told. The Institute is located in Harold Acton’s palazzo on Lungarno Guicciardini 9, so there’s another good reason for dropping by if you’re in Florence. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait until 22 May, when the book comes out as a lavishly produced physical object or an e-book. The choice is yours. I hope to be doing a few more readings in various places in early summer, in the UK and Italy (and anywhere else that will have me), so watch this space.
In the meantime, after its Rome launch in February at the Almost Corner Bookshop in Trastevere, The View from the Tower has been gathering some great reviews, including one from Mystery Scene, which concludes: “The View From the Tower echoes 1984, and, like that classic, is a superb, deeply thought-out book written by an author who recognizes the darkness of the human heart” For Scott Pack, the novel is “a slow reveal, beautifully weighted and judged”, while Trip Fiction comments: “When you read Charles’s work, you just KNOW you are in Italy!” If you can’t make it to Italy, but would like to read the book and pretend, Goodreads is currently running a giveaway until 10 April. Click here to take part. You might be one of the lucky ones.
Finally, I’ve written a few reviews, and a couple of short stories destined for anthologies, but I can’t talk about these yet. I’ve also read – and been thrilled by – the first two chapters of the Italian translation of The View from the Tower (titled Occasioni di Morte), translated by Isabella Zani and due to be published by Voland later this year. It will be strange, and exciting, to see how Italian readers react to an Englishman’s version of the world they live in. I’m now waiting to edit the sequel to The View from the Tower and Any Human Face, entitled The Folding World, set in present-day Rome and due out in October. And I’ve been working on the final draft of my latest novel, set in Paris, Greece and Whitstable. But more more news of that later.
And finally, I had a great time judging the 2014 Willesden Short Story Prize. Stiff competition, but an immensely gratifying task. I’ll be announcing the winners on 16 April at BAR Gallery, Unit 4-5, 1-12 Queens Parade, Walm Lane London at 7 pm.
So I haven’t just been sitting around and, as they say in Italy, combing my dolls’ hair…