Well, it’s publication day for The Bookman’s Tale. I hope you will abandon this blog immediately and go buy a copy. But in case you already have, and have already read it, you might be interested to know how it all got started. I was walking alone in Yorkshire in the summer of 2005 thinking about what I might like to write next when I hit on the idea of a secret in an old chapel. I started to piece out bits of a story centered on this idea and when I got back to the country inn where I was staying with my family I wrote down a few notes. Over the next few days I added to those notes, and they became the genesis of The Bookman’s Tale. But just in case you think such thinks spring into the minds of authors fully formed, I went back recently and looked at those eight-year-old notes. I found only a few ideas that made it into the final book—and those in a much-altered form. Writing this novel was a process, and though I did crank out the first draft fairly quickly (over about four months in 2008) a lot of thinking and note-taking preceded that first draft and a lot of revision and editing followed it. Somewhere along the way I hit on the idea of having three booksellers in three different time periods as central characters in the book. While the story ultimately focused on one of those bookmen, Peter Byerly, the other two (the Elizabethan Bartholomew Harbottle and the Victorian Benjamin Mayhew) are still there and still important parts of the story. But they came later. In the beginning there were just these words, written in 2005: “An American expatriate bookseller, recently widowed, moves to an English village . . .” That was the beginning of one of my first notes (the illustration shows one from a little later which will make sense only to those who have read the book). And while those ten words still describe the situation at the beginning of The Bookman’s Tale, the rest of that note bears only a vague resemblance to the story I ultimately wrote. So perhaps that tired old adage about writing is really true—that it is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. I never would have written The Bookman’s Tale without the inspiration that came on that one-hour walk in 2005. But I also would not have written it without the hundred of hours of work that came afterwards. I’m extremely proud of the final result; I hope you will enjoy the journey as much as I did.