links, links, links wrecked links
The website is slowly updating, left to right. The bio is mostly true. Under the tag ‘A Hero for High Times.’, there are now four pages. The bibliography page is so close, I can taste it; apols for delay. The links listed in the appendix of the print version of A Hero for High Times are now up and running, in ‘Heroic links’, including one to the Spotify playlist. My great friend and collaborator Paul Williams has put up links to Bob’s photos of Afghanistan and after under a tag ‘Rowberry in Afghanistan’, which opens his excellent website.
A Hero for High Times took a while to work out. One of the first decisions I took was that I wanted it to be good to read on a Kindle, or similar. For ever, or at least nearly forever, I’ve been on at my publishers to chuck us a few bob, so that we could have decent interactive web content that would be woven into the fabric of the book. My novel ‘The Battle For Dole Acre’ was to have a fake website, Pancester Tourist Office. There was to be a fold out (virtual) map. In the book, here and there, would be longform web addresses, in print, which you could then type into the address bar of your desktop computer, and call up the web content via your dial-up modem. It was the Year Two Thousand and One, the new millenium had dawned, and the internet enhanced novel had to be a thing! It had to! Nobody agreed. My publishers declined to invest, and the book came out link free. That was OK. The content I’d written for the internet was never supposed to make any material difference to the story, but just to add a bit of colour. Paul Williams put this stuff online anyway, fancy website or not. Here they are – Curious Survivals of Pancester and The Pancester Plough Monday Mummers Play are the oldest surviving bits of this website, dating back to 2001.
When Orion ‘published’ The Battle for Dole Acre on Kindle a few years back, I was excited to think that I could at least add links from the text to the two survivors of the putative webstuff. I wrote to Orion. No one answered. It would take about 10 seconds to do. No matter; they are here, and can be found. I’ve even seen the Plough Monday play cited in an a academic paper on mumming texts.
Anyhoo, the thing is, what I really mean, is that it was good to get things right for the Kindle version of ‘A Hero for High Times.’ My modest aim was that a reader could listen to some relevant music, or watch a short film clip as part of the process of reading the book on a device. And the job’s good, I think. The links just work. The photos can be looked at properly. The playlist plays. The book is a lovely thing, and I’m really proud of it. I’m made up that the Kindle version is rather lovely too, and that there is some point in buying it.
And, er, buy it I did. Nobody sent me a code. I wanted to see what it looked like in e-form. So I bought my own book, on Kindle, for nine ninety nine. A few years back, I asked my publisher if we could give away a download code with the hardback edition, but otherwise not make the Kindle version available until the same time that the mass market paperback came out. It turned out not to be possible, but I’d like people who’ve bought the book to find a way to look at the photos, read an unexpuragated version of the trips to Afghanistan, and look at the links that the Kindle allows e-readers to look at effortlessly. That’s what I’m still trying to do, in my amateur way, all these years later.