Books by Philip Matyszak



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The Devil's in the details
My latest effort is soon to be handed over to the production editor. I'll be able to give more details after the Frankfurt book fair - my publishers wouldn't want me tipping my hand too early. However, as it's due out in the spring, details will be appearing soon enough in the 'forthcoming books' section.

At present, the really fun part - writing the thing - is done. Now comes the painful bit of going through and painfully filling in details that I merrily skipped over in my fine literary frenzy. Here's a quote that I labelled 'Cicero'. I see that my bone-idle earlier self did not bother to note the book or chapter number. I've literally a bookshelf of Cicero's works, and now have to go through the lot tracking down that one quote. Afterwards I'll find that, due to a mental lapse, I meant Livy anyway.

Then there's the fact that readers appreciate it if I don't have sentences filled with dangling participles, relative clauses that have lost their dependent parts, and pronouns used so enthusiastically that one has to turn back two pages to find who the original subject was. I know my editor will point out any omissions in her kindly way, but it's always better to try to get it right first for myself.

On a different note, say hello to Athens! Ancient Athens on Five Drachmas a Day should have hit the shelves of a store near you today or thereabouts. It's written as a companion volume for Rome on Five Denarii a day, and let's hope it gets the same favourable reception.
Paperback writer
'Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?
It took me years to write, will you take a look?'
('Paperback writer', the Beatles)

I'm humming this to myself as I look at the pre-production paperbacks of the Greece and Rome travel guides. I see that the suitcase theme on the covers (originally established when an extract was published by the Independent newspaper) has now firmly taken hold. These are my first paperbacks ever, so I'm looking at them with a proudly paternal expression.

However, Greece on 5 Drachmas a Day did not take 'years to write' - in fact it holds another record for the fastest production to date. I started writing it in September 2007 and it took less than a year after that for the first finished copy to arrive. Admittedly it helped that I'd known I'd be writing it since 2005, and so had just to commit the previous 18 months of research to paper, but it still shows impressive skill by T&H on the production side.

A big thank you to those people who have shown enough faith in my abilities to pre-buy the book in very healthy quantities even before it has been released. Even more scarily, some buyers had acquired the foreign rights months before I set finger to keyboard to write the opening words.
Tower of Babel
Hello Romania, Holland and Poland!

It's always fun to see new languages being added to the 'In other words' section of the website, and as you can see, there are books there in over a dozen languages now. Since I have some (basic) German, I work closely with my German publishers, but with some others, such as the French and Korean, I had no idea I was being published in that language until my complementary copy arrived in the post.

The top shelf of my bookcase has now a fine multi-lingual look, and though I can't read the text, its fun to look at the layouts, and see how different nationalities have chosen different approaches.

Then, because I can't help myself, I go to amazon and see how each books is getting on in its new country. I understand that there are over 200 languages in the world which are spoken by more than a million people. So that's just 187 languages to go before manages complete world domination. (Well, 188 actually, because I'd love to see some of the travel guides in Latin!)
Athens in the rain
It's been a tough few weeks in the Tirol - the weather has been so wet and cloudy its hardly been worth going outdoors, and I'm down with a rotten throat infection that has me croaking like a frog.

So can't go out, and can't talk. That's left me with a complete lack of excuses, so I've been at the keyboard for six hours a day. The result is that I'm well ahead of schedule on my latest projects, so after the weekend I'm going to be taking a two-week break. If it starts raining again, I'll see if the tennis players at Wimbledon are having better luck.

The weather is improving, and I've a friend - a fellow historian - coming over for a visit. Unless my voice improves, he's going to win a lot of our usual arguments by default. On the other hand, I can't drink whilst I'm on these pills, so my late-night discussions will be considerably more coherent than usual.

I was looking over some of the proofs of the Athens book due out in September - my first multi-national debut. I'll be published in the US in paperback, in the UK in hardback and in Germany and Austria in German. So gibt's weiter!
Back to work ...
Back home after a busy week running around the south-east of England. I had some useful discussions over a vegetable samoosa or two in Cambridge about the eLearning courses I'll be teaching at the end of the year, then meetings with various publishers in London. Also had a chance to meet up with some fellow writers and prowl the British Museum looking for material to illustrate my latest projects.
I picked up a little Asus eee 900 in Tottenham Court Road whilst in the area, and then spent much of the next few days getting a it full Linux interface instead of the rather PDA-like setup it came with. It's a really cute little machine and I was able to do some work even whilst waiting for my plane at Stanstead. But less than two hours of battery life when I was just writing text? Come on, Asus!
So I'm now looking at the Late Republic and Roman armour for two different proposals I hope to be making in the near future - if anything comes of these, I'll let you know.

PS Just heard from Pen & Sword - Mithridates is due out in November this year. They are sending the cover pic, which I'll post when I get it.

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