The question of the sequencing of a series in translation, and not starting with Book One, is one that is put to me from time to time and, in fact, I received just such an inquiry only the other day from a reader in the North West of England. I can’t speak for the wonderful Jo Nesbo and his publisher, Vintage, quoted by my friend in the Wirral, but suspect that their experience will mirror ours.
A series of this sort tends to gain in strength as it travels in time. When we entered the field in 2011 with the (equally wonderful) Jorn Lier Horst we had the opportunity of publishing his most recent novel, Bunnfall, tr: Dregs, which was already a success in Norway and elsewhere in Europe.
With the author in full flight with believable, highly individuated characters, relationships worked out and, indeed, changing, and a fully established tone, a momentum had been established. The book has now enjoyed a good success in English (we hold World rights) and the question for the publisher is now not so much: why begin with the sixth book in the series? That is actually easy. It is already proven, with both author and protagonist fully developed. A better question is: what to do now? One option is to return to Book One, but we have decided not to do that.
Before continuing, certain managing and organisational processes had to be worked through thoroughly, such as properly establishing the relationship between publisher(s), author and translator with a longer term view than was previously possible. Another is to give the continuing series a new look after using the Norwegian cover for the first English-language title. Both of these priorities have now been accomplished and a press release has been issued to inform that Anne Bruce is to continue as translator. The new look cover, created by Freight Design in Glasgow, can be seen on the Forthcoming page of our web site.
With these things in place, and hopefully a developing relationship with our admired colleagues, Gyldendal in Oslo, and the Norwegian funding body NORLA, we will continue with the next book in the series, Vinterstengt, tr: Closed for Winter, publishing in October and carried forth by our selling agents at Faber Factory Plus. We hope and intend to continue at the same rate of output as the author, recognising that at some point, hopefully 2014, we must publish two titles in one year. If and when we look back in time to publish the earlier titles will depend on what I hope will be an increasing clamour. This is all long term thinking which I believe is typical of our publishing house.
As a practical response to what is a very real need for series readers, I have asked the author if, for Closed for Winter and future books, he could supply just under a page (say) on William Wisting’s background. This will give the reader an idea of William Wisting’s family circumstances, his colleagues, outlook on life, what Larvik is like, his age, etc. We will place this at the start of the next book, immediately before the continuing narrative. This will surely be useful to the reader and enhance the reading experience and I am very pleased to report that Jorn Lier Horst has agreed.
We are ambitious for Jorn Lier Horst and the William Wisting series and hopeful with, I believe, good reason. Sandstone/Gyldendal/Faber/Horst/Bruce/Freight; it’s a darned good team.
Sandstone Press Ltd