Author sets fire to his own book.

This is the trailer for my next Porfiry Petrovich novel, THE CLEANSING FLAMES, due out in May:

To make it (yes, I made it myself), I had to burn a copy of the novel, which was a particularly hard thing to do, as it doesn’t exist as a book yet.

Alex, my tireless publicity maven at Faber, came to my aid and created a mock-up using a print out of the cover wrapped around another book. The book she used was… well, maybe on second thoughts I shouldn’t disclose which book she was suggesting I should burn. Suffice it to say it was another Faber author’s. I’m sure she picked it because it was roughly the right size to fill out the cover she’d printed off. Not because she had anything against the author in question. Still, discretion might be the order of the day here.

It didn’t matter anyhow because I didn’t feel it was right to burn another author’s book, and besides it was one I hadn’t read and quite fancied, so I decided to save it from the flames. I wrapped the cover around one of my own copies of A RAZOR WRAPPED IN SILK and burnt that instead.

I only had one print-out, so I prayed that I would get the shot I wanted at the first take. I think I was lucky. I pretty much got the effect I was after first time.

There’s no reason why I shouldn’t burn one of my own author copies, if the fancy takes me. But even so, it still felt weird and strangely taboo. A writer shouldn’t burn books. Full stop. But I have to confess it was strangely liberating. That’s the thing about breaking taboos, I suppose.

Somehow it broke the hold my books have over me. There is a sense that you become imprisoned by what you write. Which is perhaps just an overly dramatic way of saying pigeon-holed.

As far as I know, THE CLEANSING FLAMES will be the last in my Porfiry Petrovich series. Maybe my desire to set fire to a symbolic copy of it was not just driven by the need for an arresting image for the trailer. Was it also some kind of funeral pyre for the series? The subconscious is a funny thing.


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