• Clair Lamb

December 2020 newsletter


Dear Folks,


As 2020 limps to a close — and the sooner, the better — it seems appropriate to take a moment to wish you all the best for Chanukah and Christmas, and express the hope that 2021 will be gentler with us than its predecessor has been. I look back with gratitude to the readers, booksellers, and wine merchants who made the year a little easier. I’d give you all a little something in return, if I wasn’t so cheap.


Thank you for your kind support of the online experiment “The Sisters Strange,” which you may see in a revised form sometime in 2022; for making The Dirty South a bestseller in both the UK and the US; and for following me on Twitter, staying up to date via Facebook, and sending me the occasional encouraging email or indignant correction. When we are all so physically isolated from each other, words on a page and on a screen provide a lifeline.


It’s probably too late to order anything by international mail for this Christmas, although our friends at The Gutter and Alan Hanna’s will see you right for signed books if you can pick them up, but most independent bookstores offer gift certificates and book tokens, and money coming in at this time of year to be spent later is very welcome indeed for small businesses.


The Next Part In Which, Like The Lord, I Giveth and Then I Taketh Away


As you may be aware, next year’s book is The Nameless Ones. It’s an Angel and Louis novel, and picks up on an event in A Book of Bones, though you need not have read A Book of Bones to follow the story. Louis and Angel, for those unfamiliar with them — and if you are unfamiliar, I’m not angry, just disappointed. Well, a bit angry — are professional criminals and life partners, and longtime friends of Charlie Parker. In A Book of Bones they took shelter in a safe house in Amsterdam that belonged to an old friend of Louis’s. The Nameless Ones begins with a horrifying massacre in that safe house, and follows Louis and Angel as they hunt down the men responsible. Parker does make an appearance in this book, as do other characters readers may be glad to see again, including your friends, and theirs, the Fulci brothers.


So that’s good, right?


Okay, here’s the slightly bad news. At my request, publication of The Nameless Ones has been pushed back to August in the UK, Ireland, and the Antipodes, while it will appear in October in North America. Now before you turn all “Furious from Ipswich” on me (yes, I know who you are . . . ) and begin sending irate letters to the newspapers, one of the reasons for the postponement is that I just didn’t feel it would be possible to promote the book in person if it was published in the first half of the year. While a vaccine is, thankfully, on the horizon, it’s not going to be rolled out fully before the summer, and I didn’t want to publish a book that had to be promoted on a screen and signed in isolation. I rather miss you all, you know. I mean, I don’t want you camping in my garden, or going through my bins, but it’s very nice to catch up with you on my regular jaunts, and it seemed more likely that we’d be able to meet if the book was moved to an autumn release. I was also anxious to reduce the time gap between the UK and US publication dates, and it made more sense to move the UK date than the US one, given the ongoing unpleasantness. Finally, publishing the same book in different territories in spring and autumn means that fitting in the release of a second book in any given year, should I want to do that, becomes very difficult. These are the things I worry about as I lie awake in bed at night . . .


Therefore I encourage you to mark your 2021 calendars now for these publication dates in Ireland, the UK, and the US:

  • April 1, 2021 — The Dirty South goes on sale in paperback in Ireland and the UK

  • May 11, 2021 — The Dirty South goes on sale in paperback in the US and Canada

  • July 29, 2021 (estimated) — The Nameless Ones goes on sale in hardcover and export paperback in Ireland

  • August 5, 2021 — The Nameless Ones goes on sale in hardcover in the UK

  • October 12, 2021 — The Nameless Ones goes on sale in hardcover in the US and Canada


We hope to have cover art for The Nameless Ones to show you early next year, and will update the website with pre-order links as soon as those become available. We’ll also be looking at some little gift to give away with orders from brick-and-mortar bookstores. I was thinking of an Angel & Louis tote, given the nature of the new book. I’ve even found an old illustration that appeals.


ABC to XTC for the holidays (and more)


The holiday edition of my weekly internet radio show, ABC to XTC, will air this coming Sunday, December 20, and feature some of the best seasonal offerings from your favorite punk, post-punk, and New Wave bands of the late 1970s and 1980s. Or at least, from my favorite punk, post-punk, and New Wave bands of the late 1970s and 1980s. It streams at 1:00 p.m. Dublin time, and you can listen via the RTÉ Radio Player mobile app or through the RTÉ 2XM website.


If you miss a show, you can listen back for a week via the RTÉ 2XM website or for four weeks via the mobile app. Should you have the time and interest, I commend to you the November 29 show, which featured an interview with the singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/producer Chaz Jankel, who may be best known for his work with Iggy Pop but came on the show to discuss the release of his own retrospective, Glad to Know You: The Anthology 1980-1986.


And that, as they say in Hollywood, is a wrap. Thanks again for your enthusiasm, your kindness, your messages, and your good humor. I’m very fortunate to have you all in my world.


Take care of yourselves and each other, and Merry Christmas.


John