Saturday, 13 February 2010

Will there be a sequel to "Major Benjy"?

I am reproducing below the answer which I have posted in response to the above question on Librarything today. Apologies to anyone who has already seen it there.

Many thanks for your continued interest. Yes, it is still my intention to write another two, and the second one is part-written. However, there are a few issues.

First, for all the messages of support which I have received (which ARE very welcome!), sales of "Major Benjy" have been disappointing, as has the attitude of the bookshops towards stocking it, and the two things are obviously related. By the way, many thanks to Waterstones in Hampstead, who are a very honourable exception here. Both I and the publishers always said that the decision whether to publish the others would depend on how well this one sold. You cannot expect a publisher to do something without the expectation of making at least a reasonable profit.

We were hoping that every Luciaphile would both buy the book for themselves and also several other copies to give away as presents, but obviously this has not happened. So, in a very real sense, the answer to the question you pose lies in the hands of the members of this group, and others like it, as well as with all Mapp & Lucia lovers. Like it or not, publishing is a business, and if we all want these additional books to be published then everyone has to be prepared to support the project, and strongly.

In fact, I have been discussing with Tom Holt the possibility of publishing an entire set of Mapp & Lucia books, which would include both of his and all three of mine, so it just shows what might be possible given the right support.

The other issue is copyright. Benson goes out of copyright in the UK at the end of this year, hence the above discussion. However, the US rules are different so that any new edition would either have to be "not for sale in the USA", or we would have to continue to make payments to the estate, as both Tom and I had to do in respect of our books.

My position is very simple. I want to write them, and in fact already have the parts of both books roughed out. But there is little point in my pressing on with them if I know they are unlikely to be published.

So please, everyone, do your bit by getting out there and buying it for Valentine, Birthday and Christmas presents. This will not just boost the prospects for "Lucia on Holiday" but might just convert a whole new generation of Luciaphiles.

You should also request it from your local public library. Pester them until they buy it and then get together with your friends and family to make sure that it is borrowed repeatedly, because there are publishing statistics which track these things.

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