I had the privilege to talk about The Lost Book of the Grail at St. Philip’s Cathedral in Atlanta, Georgia this past Sunday morning. Let me say right off the bat that, although the novel is set in a cathedral and there is a lot of ecclesiastical history and activity within its pages, I made a concerted effort to be sure the book was not preachy in any way. While its characters sometimes struggle with issues of faith or worship, the book takes no authorial stance on these issues. I’m not trying to tell my readers what to believe or what not to believe. I think I succeeded in this effort because I heard recently from a reader who told me she almost didn’t buy the book. She is not a Christian and not a fan of organized religion. However, on advice of a friend, she read the book and told me she enjoyed it very much.
As I’ve been on tour with The Lost Book of the Grail I’ve been showing a collage-like image of a lot of the different books, magazines, places, and even furniture that inspired details in the book. One item in that collage is a CD of John Rutter’s Requiem. I almost always get a question about this—why is Rutter a part of my book?
It seems like I have been writing blog entries and articles right and left, but with the recent publication of The Lost Book of the Grail, a lot of those pieces have been for other people’s blogs. So, in lieu of a new blog here today, I will direct you to some of the many short pieces that have appeared on other websites and which discuss some of my inspirations, research, etc. for The Lost Book of the Grail.
Well The Lost Book of the Grail has been out for a couple of days now, so I’m sure by now you have bought a copy and are busily reading it. But just in case you haven’t: I often get queries from readers and collectors about how they can obtain a signed copy of one of my books. I’m sure a lot of authors get these. Some ignore them, some send out their tour schedules, and some have a local bookstore they work with to sell signed copies. I am the luckiest of the lucky, however. Not only do I have a local bookseller who will be glad to sell you a signed copy of The Lost Book of the Grail (or my other books) by mail order, but that bookseller is also a fantastic literary non-profit and when you buy from them you are supporting programs throughout our community.
It has arrived at last: publication day for The Lost Book of the Grail. I am looking forward to getting out there on the road and sharing my thoughts about the book with you and of course I’ll be excited to hear your reactions when you have read it. But on publication day, I make a tradition of saying “thank you” to all those who helped make a book possible. I do this by reprinting the acknowledgements from the back of the book. I hope this will not only express my gratitude to so many who help and support me, but also will encourage you to always read an author’s acknowledgements. We put a lot of thought into those words and they, perhaps more than any others in the book, are truly spoken from the heart. Thank you for reading my blog and (I hope) for buying and reading my book. And a special thanks to those below.
It’s true I’ve been spending a lot of time in the blog and elsewhere online talking about my novel The Lost Book of the Grail, which will be published by Viking this coming Tuesday. People often ask me “What is your favorite book that you’ve written?” My response is always—if it’s not the one I’m spending time with right now (writing or promoting) then something is wrong. And it’s true. I’m excited about this book, I’m excited to share it with you, and I honestly think it’s a good read. Otherwise I really wouldn’t say so. But I’d also like the book to be commercially successful—and here is where you come in.
The following entry is a reprint of an open letter that I sent to librarians through my publisher Penguin/Random House. You can and download the original letter here.
It’s no secret that I love libraries. My first novel, The Bookman’s Tale, was partially set in a university library; First Impressions featured two spectacular private libraries; and my new novel, The Lost Book of the Grail, is set in an English cathedral library. Not surprisingly, I spend a lot of time visiting libraries—to read, to do research, to speak and sign books, and sometimes just to soak up the ambience that only comes from a building filled with books.
This continues my series of blogs on my favorite English cathedrals—buildings and communities from which I drew inspiration for my novel The Lost Book of the Grail, published by Viking on February 28.
This week’s choice is a complete departure from all that has come before—Durham, Winchester, Salisbury, and Wells were all fine medieval building, whereas Coventry Cathedral was built between 1956 and 1962, but therein lies a tale. Coventry was the site of a medieval cathedral, built as a parish church in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries and raised to cathedral status in 1918 when the Diocese of Coventry was created. But that St. Michael’s Cathedral, created during wartime, would only last until the next war.
As I look to the publication of my new novel, The Lost Book of the Grail, set in a fictional English cathedral, in a little over two weeks, I continue my series of blogs about my favorite English cathedrals. Today, one which may be less well known, but deserves a visit—Wells.
Where do I even start with Wells Cathedral? First of all, the city of Wells—the smallest cathedral city in England, I believe—is wonderfully charming and preserves many of the aspects of a medieval city. The cobbled marketplace, stone arches, wide green in front of the cathedral, and lovely grounds of the bishop’s palace make it perhaps my favorite cathedral city—and that was before I even saw Hot Fuzz (my favorite Simon Pegg movie, which is partially filmed in Wells). All that and more surrounds you before you even step into the cathedral itself.
My fictional cathedral city of Barchester (and yes, that’s the same fictional city created by Anthony Trollope in the 1850s) needed a founder. In my novel The Lost Book of the Grail, the reader encounters bits and pieces of the history of Barchester from the beginnings in Saxon times through invasions by Vikings and Normans, the upheavals of the Reformation and the Civil War, and even the Nazi bombings of World War II. But through all that history I wanted the spirit of the founder to permeate, and I wanted the founder to be a woman.