So, I'm back from Spain. I had a wonderful time: for those who don't know, I'm half Spanish through my Mom and I was raised there, so it was going home for me. Madrid is so vibrant and full of life and history, I found myself staying up way past my usual bedtime, and actually not caring! I also drank too much coffee, but who cares?
I had lunch with my editor there, too, and discovered some interesting facts about the state of books in Spain. First off, books are never discounted beyond 10% off the cover price and even that is rare. I went to several bookstores while I was there, big and small stores, and nowhere do you see the rampant discounting you see here in the US or in the UK. Which is good news for publishers, who get better returns on their investment, and good news ultimately for authors, because if publishers are solvent, then they're more likely to want our next book. Also, historical fiction is booming in Europe and in Spain, in particular. I found many novels that haven't been translated into English, with wonderfully unique themes and settings, such as the Moorish time in early medieval Spain; 14th century Germany; 12th century Byzantium and France; medieval and Renaissance Italy, etc. The authors are German, Dutch, Italian - names I'd never heard of before. The romantic vein that seems so popular here in historical fiction is far less noticeable there, and some well-known authors to us were nowhere to be found.
Needless to say, my book cart overflowed. I read Spanish, though not as often as I read English, and so I decided it was time to branch out and brush up my literary reading skills and further my historical novel appetite. One book in particular that I bought - and is, in fact, published by my Spanish publisher Ediciones B. - is "The Secret of Sofonisba" about Sofonisba Anguissola, a Renaissance woman who painted at the court of Philip II of Spain and has been forgotten by history, though in her time she was considered incredibly talented. The book begins with a visit from VanDyck to her studio, where, ancient and near death, she relates to him a secret . . . I've had to set it aside to finish my current HNS review assignment, but it starts out with beautiful language and much promise. Plus, the author is a real Medici - Lorenzo de Medici, in fact.
It's sad that more books published in Europe are not being translated and marketed here. I feel our market could use an influx of this new, exciting blood. Not that I don't find enough to read here, nor do I think we lack for quality, but still . . . what devoted fan wouldn't like to see down more historical novels?