Audio, Romeo and Juliet, Writing

Romeo and Juliet: nominated for an Audie

I’m absolutely gobsmacked to tell you that Romeo and Juliet, my adaptation for Audible narrated so splendidly by Richard Armitage, has been nominated for an audio ‘Oscar’, the Audies.

Wow. This is my third nomination, the first two with my good friend A.J. Hartley for Macbeth and Hamlet (the latter with Richard too). I’m incredibly grateful to all the people at Audible who made this project possible, and Richard for a narration performance that exceeded my wildest dreams.

Here’s the full list — such company to be in. The winner will be announced in New York City on May 31st. Thanks again everyone!



Events, Romeo and Juliet, Writing

Books by the Beach – the full line-up is out

We’re fast approaching the release of Juliet and Romeo, my revisionary version of the familiar tale from Shakespeare and earlier writers due out in May from the Dome Press. But as I’ve hinted here earlier there will be a sneak preview and a chance to buy the book before everyone else.

On Thursday April 12 I’ll be speaking and reading from it as part of the fantastic Books by the Beach Festival in Scarborough. Anyone who’s followed the growth of Books by the Beach to become one of the UK’s most innovative and exciting festivals will know to expect the unexpected. This is certainly that.

Continue reading “Books by the Beach – the full line-up is out”


How PLR works and why it’s important

Up and down the UK today authors are for once feeling happy. We’re getting our annual statements from Public Lending Right. It’s a little-understood process, so much that a few authors, narrators and artists have yet to register for it. If you fall into that category… do so now. Creative incomes are falling through the floor at the moment which makes PLR a welcome source of money.

Earned money too, let it be said, so let me demonstrate that through my own figures. Here are my top thirteen titles from the current round of payments which apply to UK library loans from July 2016 to June 2017 (so they exclude my latest Vos title, Sleep Baby Sleep). 

From this you can see that the various editions of these books were borrowed more than 60,000 times during that period (so much for the argument no one goes to libraries any more). As sole author I get 100 per cent of the loan rate of 8.20p per borrowed book. This year I also got some income from audio books too (rightly shared with my wonderful narrator Saul Reichlin).

To make the system fair so that incredibly popular authors don’t steal all the pot (which is currently frozen at £6.6 million) the maximum payout for any author is capped at £6,600. I’m lucky I’m in that category but most writers aren’t so it’s important they’re protected by a cap that diverts cash to those with fewer borrowings.

This is how the payments broke down in 2015-2016.

Payment band No of payments made
£5,000 – £6,600 305
£2,500 – £4,999.99 356
£1,000 – £2,499.99 792
£500 – £999.99 863
£100 – £499.99 3,232
£1 – £99.99 16,654
Total Recipients 22,202

It’s a very equitable system and it does reward authors for having their books enjoyed by the reading public. If you look at my numbers for last year’s current book, Little Sister, they show combined borrowings of more than 20,000 and, for the previous year’s titles in the Vos series more than 13,000 and nearly 10,000. Taking in all my books I had borrowings of nearly 90,000. That’s a hefty readership which, without PLR, would only earn me the meagre income of individual book sales to libraries. It’s also a nice rejoinder if someone somewhere tells you, ‘No one wants to read books set in Amsterdam.’

Author incomes are continuing to fall through a variety of factors. Later this month the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society will be carrying out a new survey into author earnings. As ALCS say…

The last survey – What Are Words Worth Now – in 2014 found that the median income of professional authors had fallen from £15,450 in 2005 to £11,000 in 2013. In addition, the number of authors earning a living solely from their writing had dropped from 40% in 2005, to 11.5% by 2013.

Such data is vital in enabling ALCS to continue to make the case for fair terms for authors in copyright law, licences and contracts. So we urge all members to please complete this latest survey so that we can continue to protect and promote your rights effectively.

In the present climate, with an administration that seems to regard public expenditure as a needless frippery, none of us can take PLR for granted. If you’re eligible sign up for it and ALCS — and fill in that survey when it appears.


Some (expanded) thoughts on a career in writing

I put up a little thread on Twitter on this subject last week. A lot of people seemed to want to hear more. So here it is. A long read I’m afraid and please note… this is about conventional commercial publishing, not self-publishing, a field I don’t know. Note too that these are just my opinions. Feel free to disagree. There are no rights and no wrongs in a subject like this. You can also read this post on Medium where it is open to comments.

At the beginning of 2017, after a quarter of a century in this business, I wondered if my time was up. I’d quit my long-term publisher and didn’t have a scrap of work in front of me.

This isn’t a new experience. Unless you hit the starry heights, anyone with a long career in writing will usually find they need to throw aside the past and reinvent themselves every decade or so. It’s good practice. You can’t keep playing the same tune. But here’s the difference: I’m old. Next month I pick up my pension. Do I want to bother? Do I need to?

Continue reading “Some (expanded) thoughts on a career in writing”


A sneak preview of Juliet and Romeo

Juliet and Romeo, Dome PressMy new take on a very old tale, Juliet and Romeo, will be out in the UK from Dome Press in the middle of May. But there will be one sneak preview where you can hear me talking about it, get an advance copy, and a fine Italian meal in a smart country house to boot.

The night to put in your diary is April 12 when there’ll be a special event dedicated to the book as part of that splendid festival in Scarborough, Books by the Beach.

The evening will entail a three course Italian dinner at Wykeham Abbey with yours truly talking about the book and the background to the original story between courses. I’ll be reading an extract, taking questions and signing advance copies. So you get well fed, a cosy, informal evening in a lovely country house and a copy of the finished book before everyone else gets to lay their hands on it.

Numbers are limited — there are just thirty eight seats. Tickets will go on sale by phone and in person from the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough in February.

But if you fancy giving someone a voucher for Scarborough for Christmas… they are on sale now.


Coming next May… Juliet and Romeo: the book

A few weeks ago I was pleased to announce something readers have been demanding for quite some time… the return of Nic Costa. Now here’s news of another reader-led project. Yes, after a lot of work and thought, there will be a book and ebook version of my audio adaptation of Romeo and Juliet with Richard Armitage — the draft cover is on the right.

Please note that word ‘version’. The original was a script written for performance, which Richard did, of course, so well. Much as people asked for it, a copy of that masquerading as a book wasn’t quite what I wanted. You can’t just move the same thing from one medium to another. Books require a different approach to audio.

Just as important a story never ceases to be alive. After Richard had recorded it and we’d discussed the project post-recording I was filled with ideas I wished I’d incorporated in the original. Then I was asked to turn the tale back into drama for Audible Germany, another learning exercise which opened up fresh possibilities.

When it came to reworking everything into a book I didn’t want to be bound by what went before. So it’s a fresh look at the original adaptation, with new scenes, new insights, new takes on the story.

The book will be out next May from The Dome Press, the new imprint established by David Headley, the chap behind that highly successful London book emporium Goldsboro. David’s been a long-time supporter of both independent book stores and independent-minded authors so it was a delight to find Juliet and Romeo a good home with the very first publisher to read the manuscript.

There’ll be a few more things to say about this project as we get nearer the launch date, and hopefully some events to share with you too. With the new Costa, The Savage Shore, now Juliet and Romeo and one more project that’s yet to be announced 2018 is going to be a busy year.

Here’s the press release…

The Dome Press is delighted to announce the acquisition of David Hewson’s groundbreaking Shakespearean novelisation Juliet and Romeo from Alice Lutyens at Curtis Brown.

David is widely known in crime-writing circles and has written several adaptations of Shakespeare for Audible, including Romeo and Juliet which was read by Richard Armitage to great acclaim, and was the spur for this novel.

Rebecca Lloyd, Publisher at The Dome Press, said, ‘Juliet and Romeo tells an old story in an entirely new way, bringing it to a whole new audience. Funny as well as tragic, and with a Juliet at the centre with whom modern women can relate, and a real twist in the tail, I loved it and am very excited to be the publisher.’

David Hewson commented, ‘Since Richard Armitage’s stunning audio version for Audible I’ve been inundated with people asking when there would be a book of my reimagining of Shakespeare’s classic. I’m delighted to be joining Dome Press, a young, vibrant and independent publisher, for Juliet and Romeo, the novel. This is Richard’s version and more — rewritten as a historical tragedy set in the real Verona of 1499 with twists Shakespeare may have hinted at but never wrote. I can’t wait.’

Juliet and Romeo will be published in May 2018.


Now out in the Netherlands… Pieter Vos 4

de-stenen-engel-hewsonThe fourth Pieter Vos novel, Sleep Baby Sleep in English, De Stenen Engel in Dutch, is now out in the Netherlands courtesy of my lovely publisher over there, Boekerij. It is set entirely in Amsterdam. You can read more about the story here.

I’m deeply grateful to the Dutch editor of these four books, Rienk Tychon, for helping me with his fund of local knowledge. One of the first reviews of the book in the Netherlands from ThrillZone says, ‘Hewson as a Brit knows Amsterdam better than his Dutch colleagues. A bigger compliment there isn’t.’ I’ve Rienk to thank for that.

Looking forward to being back in Amsterdam briefly in a couple of weeks to talk about the book. It’s a city that will always be close to my heart, especially De Pijp where much of this story is set.