It would be tempting to blame Alan Cadbury for not promoting his own adventures, but I knew he wouldn’t lift a finger to help when I began writing the series some three or four years ago. Apart from anything else, he said so quite clearly and with – how can I put it? – strong emphasis. So I can’t really blame him. And besides, he’s always away in the field excavating sites or discovering dead bodies – or sometimes both.
The fact is, the campaign to fund Alan’s second adventure, The Way, The Truth and The Dead seems to have hit the buffers. We got off to a cracking start, far, far faster than the Lifers’ Club’s rather hesitant beginning. And subsequent progress was very rapid, too. We were also hugely helped by the good reviews and enthusiastic response to his first adventure and I couldn’t help noticing that many of the early subscribers to what I call AC2 (Lifers is AC1), had also subscribed to Lifers. Then things started to slow down around 45% and we positively creaked across the half-way point. So I did a second emailing to all my (long-suffering) contacts and that gave things a bit of a lift – up to about 55%. We’re now at 57%, some six weeks after reaching 50% – and if anything, we’re slowing down further. Help!
The trouble is, I’ve never been any good at taking professional advice, especially when it comes to marketing. I can remember when we were launching Flag Fen I was told never to release negative news and above all, never admit when you made a mistake. And I cheerfully ignored both. I worked on the principle that people are adults: they can take the rough with the smooth. And besides, life is about contrasts: light and shade, good and bad, rough and smooth. You can’t appreciate the one without the other. Indeed, the big problem with modern politics is that it’s just about light, smooth and good. Anything that might be construed as negative has been removed by the various Westminster spin-doctors, with the result that politicians are not seen as normal humans any more. I have to say I’ve found the new Scottish Nationalist MPs a welcome breath of honesty and fresh air. But I fear I digress.
Anyhow, when the numbers of new subscribers started to slow down, I took my eye off the ball. Two other things intervened as well. First it was lambing and then, from early April, weeds started to grow in carpets out in the garden. In normal circumstances those weeds would be a manageable problem, but this year has been one of the driest springs on record (I recorded just 10mm of rain in the whole of April!) and our clay-silt soils have turned to concrete. We both knew that if we didn’t get on top of those weeds, years of work would be wasted. So thanks to the drought, weeding has taken twice as long. But now we’re through the worst of it and I think we’ll have avoided the wholesale seeding that happened last year – and gave us so many problems now.
So what am I saying? It’s simple, really. If you’ve already subscribed to AC2, please spread the word, especially to those who’d told you that they would join us, but haven’t yet got round to doing it. We’ve all been there, and I don’t think a gentle nudge would cause offence. Second, if you enjoyed Lifers Club, but haven’t yet subscribed to The Way, The Truth and The Dead, please do so soon. We, I, need your encouragement – and your name in the back! And here’s the link:
You can watch an interview with me about the book for the online journal The Doctrine Magazine:
And finally, I’ve been asked many times if I’m planning any more Alan Cadbury books. Well, despite our current problems, I am. The third book, in what I’m thinking of as a Fenland Trilogy, will be set at Flag Fen (Death Comes to Flag Fen?). In it, Alan will get to meet the man who discovered that remarkable site: and he’s every bit as extraordinary as the place he found. Although not in the first flush of youth, he’s a practising athlete, and can speak eight languages, six of them fluently. He is blessed with a thick shock of dark hair, which he makes no effort to control and which members of the opposite sex find irresistibly appealing. He has been a don at both Oxford and Cambridge, but now prefers to manage his large country house with its Capability Brown park in the Northamptonshire countryside. I think you’ll have to admit, it sounds almost too good to be true!