Silk and Song is the story of one of Marco Polo’s grandchildren…

In honor of the June 1st publication of the trade paperback edition of Silk and Song, a post from the Silk and Song blog tour from December 2017.

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I read The Adventures of Marco Polo and by his own account he loved the ladies. He was all over eastern Asia for twenty years in service to Kublai Khan and he had to have scattered some seed around. I wondered what happened to those kids. Silk and Song is the story of one of his grandchildren, Johanna, who travels the Silk Road west from China to England during the years 1322 to 1327.

Uh, major problem: My traditional publisher in New York didn’t want to publish it. “I’d be happy if you wrote five more Kate Shugak novels,” my editor said hopefully. Kate Shugak being the main character of twenty-one crime fiction novels, which I’ve been writing since 1993 and which have sold pretty well for the house.

I get it; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But Silk and Song was an itch I had to scratch, so I wrote it anyway and self-published in e and in trade paperback.

And then lightning struck!  My UK publisher, Nic Cheetham at Head of Zeus, read Silk and Song and loved it and published the trilogy in a single volume in the most beautiful book that has ever had my name spelled correctly on the cover. Seriously, you should see the hardcover edition—silk bookmark, gold leaf on the cover, high-rez map, a gold leaf dragon on the spine—! If I’d known historical novels were this beautifully produced I would have written one a lot sooner. “If we can’t make beautiful books, why are we in this business at all?” Nic said. No publisher has ever said anything like that to me before.

He shouldn’t have encouraged me, because now I’m writing what I hope will be the first of a series of novels set in Alexandria in the time of Cleopatra featuring Cleopatra’s fixer, job title the Eye of Isis. And then I’ll write the twenty-second Kate Shugak novel, because I’m not done telling her story yet. And then…but no, that’s a surprise I won’t spoil.

Which only shows how important it is to follow your bliss as a writer, and how lucky we writers are to be alive right now (Hamilton reference!) to take advantage of current technology to do so.

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Chatter Kate Shugak

8 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Hello Dana, Just finished Silk & Song. Quite an adventure. Thank you for another good read. I’m a serious fan of Kate Sugak wish I could visit her Alaska but I’m 88. Thank you for giving an old man some youthful moments. I do have a favor to ask. In one of your Kate Sugak adventures you recommended a list of authors for a winter library. I lost the list and have not been able to find it again. Would you be able to post it? Thank you from an avid fan.

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  2. Enjoying Silk and Song, surprised that women’s feet were already bound so early but research showed Tang Dynasty, but I wonder if they changed the way they make astrakhan coats? My mother’s has the silk on the outside. She had two and even though I coveted them, she gave them away to her friends. Keep up the good work!

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  3. another comment – the death of the carpet was reserved for royal Mongols, to not shed the blood of a relative. i understand you needed a plot devise to keep the ronin alive, but still . . .

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