Monday, 5 October 2015
Silent Nights - selling like hot cakes!
I'm delighted to say that my third anthology of Golden Age crime fiction, Silent Nights, has just been published by the British Library in its Crime Classics series. And I'm absolutely thrilled to say that, even before publication, the first print run had sold out, and there was a large scale reprint making the book - already - the most commercially successful of the many anthologies that I've edited.
The book is a collection of Christmas mysteries, and of course our hope is that, like Mystery in White last year, this book will become a popular stocking-filler. From my point of view, it is fascinating to see that the British Library has, in the course of this year, successfully challenged the received wisdom of the publishing world that "short story collections don't sell". The danger of taking such a view is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You would not, perhaps, believe how difficult I've found it at times to interest publishers in contemporary anthologies with a range of stellar authors contributing quite splendid original stories. But I am sure that many readers love short stories just as much as I do, and I'm enormously grateful that the British Library phenomenon has proved that it is perfectly possible to enthuse a large number of readers about an anthology.
Is this just a Christmas-present buying phenomenon? The answer is an emphatic no, because Capital Crimes and Resorting to Murder have been selling exceptionally well throughout the summer, and now into the autumn. I've had a huge amount of very positive feedback about both collections, and I hope that Silent Nights will also offer a bit of something for everyone who likes an engaging crime story with a seasonal flavouring.
As usual, I've tried to blend major authors, and stories that have been anthologised before, with some mysteries that will be unfamiliar to almost everyone. One story in particular stands out in my mind. It's a very obscure story called "Parlour Tricks" by the equally obscure Ralph Plummer. About a year ago, Bob Adey drew it to my attention, sending me a copy from his own amazing collection. He and I had been discussing holiday mysteries in the context of my research for Resorting to Murder, but the story gave me the idea for a Yuletide anthology. Sadly, Bob died before he could see the book, but I like to think that he would have enjoyed it.