I needed to take a small break following last weekend's birthday celebrations because... well, just because. My birthday no longer involves hangovers but I decided to take Saturday and Sunday off, eating cake with friends and then, once I'd decided not to post anything during the week, filling the time on Sunday catching up on e-mails and breaking out the new harddrive.
My 3TB harddrive was all hooked up and rarin' to go, so I began copying files from one of the smaller drives. Juggling between drives, I think I now have everything mirrored and 300-400GB of space on the most active drive. That should see me through the next few months.
At least I can now get all the scans for the Ranger book backed up. Everyone who ordered the book ahead of publication will be pleased to hear that copies are on their way and if you live in the UK your copy may even be sitting on your doormat. Go check. I'm now taking a couple of weeks off from writing to earn some money so that I can afford to write the next book. I can't say I'm too happy living so hand-to-mouth but you play the hand you're dealt.
The book, itself a bit of a brick, has just been released by The British Library in the UK and Oak Knoll Press in the US. It charts the rise of boys' storypapers from their origins in, for the most part, worthy and educational children's papers, through the cheap, sensational fiction of the penny dreadfuls through to the cheaper, more sensational publications at the turn of the late nineteenth/early twentieth century. The storypapers that thrived in the post-Edwardian era were positively tame in comparison.
Having already admitted my connection with the book, I'm tempted to just leave it at that. But I won't. I thought this was a superb book that covers in astonishing depth a period and form of cheap literature that hasn't really been covered before. I've written about some of it in the past, as have many others – the denizens of the Old Boys Book Clubs were a prolific bunch when it came to writing – but Robert's book pulls together the whole history between one set of covers, touching on virtually every title published and dipping into the careers of many of the leading publishers and authors.
Sometimes the bitterest of rivals, sometimes the best of pals, the penny-a-liners were an astonishing bunch of people often living on the edge of their talents. Eventually, even the greatest of them, Bracebridge Hemyng, fell from grace. Robert's book resurrects many of the old names – Edwin Brett, George Emmett, E. Harcourt Burrage – that today will only be recognised by a handful of researchers. That doesn't make their stories any the less fascinating.
The book is expensive at £50.00 but you can get a tiny slice off that price by ordering from Amazon. Heavily illustrated, it's a fascinating journey through a long-forgotten era. And the book is so much nicer to have than those three housebricks.
There may be another break in transmission towards the end of next week or next weekend. This is due to me and Mel going out and enjoying ourselves.