The Confusion Of Numbers: Your Questions Answered

Christopher Fowler
My piece on the confusing numbering system of the Bryant & May books threw up more questions than answers, so I thought I'd take time to address them properly here. There are four other books in which Bryant & May appear, 'Rune', 'Soho Black' (in which they solve a very PCU-like mystery) and two others which completely escape me for the moment. I'm not sure both were published. I'm a bit ramshackle about book organisation. There is a full list of short stories available, which I'll post later in the week (it's a long post!) US and UK count the books according to which ones appeared as print hardback or ebooks. I love the audiobooks themselves but their covers look like they were found under a Spanish grandmother's dresser. Sepia is not a colour I admire. The first mention of the Leicester Square Vampire was in Roofworld, which featured Janice Longbright's ex-husband (although she hadn't been invented yet). Yes, there's a rare cover for Full Dark House featuring John May smoking a pipe. When I pointed out the mistake, the artist switched it to Mr Bryant but the first covers went out. You can't have the same publication date in the US because the US publishers work on a different schedule, and I do a separate edit for the UD editions, so the text is marginally different, with some 'extreme English' remarks removed for clarity. A couple of US editions were quite heavily altered, but my new editor is happier with keeping the two as similar as possible. If you don't know a word, don't be shy - ask me. Lost in Leicester Square appears in More City Jitters. If your copy of The Soho Devil has a mistake it's probably my fault and I haven't spotted it! Bryant & May's Mystery Tour is in London's Glory. England's Finest should be out in paperback this Christmas. The UK covers presumably have less resonance for US readers because they reference old British Rail and London Transport posters, hence the blockier type. I do not like the comedy signposts they stick into each visual. I grew up worshipping American art direction in its heyday, the 1960s. Audiobooks are produced separately, and it's usually by some miracle that WF Howes gets close to the original publication date of the matching book. Currently, the lockdown has affected the production of the new audiobook, but it's on its way.  


David Ronaldson (not verified) Wed, 26/08/2020 - 09:36

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Did the duo not appear in Disturbia, with sundry insomniacs?

Paul C (not verified) Wed, 26/08/2020 - 09:43

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

As a general rule, do authors have any say at all in approval of cover designs ?

I seem to recall that James Herbert designed his own covers and had the final say / right to veto.

Roger (not verified) Wed, 26/08/2020 - 10:05

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

"some 'extreme English' remarks removed for clarity. "

I'd have thought one of the attractions of the books for US readers was their extreme Englishness, and with search engines no remark is untraceable.

roxanne reynolds (not verified) Wed, 26/08/2020 - 10:41

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

i buy the vast majority of my books these days for my kindle - my bookshelves are two books deep and there's no more room! it infuriates me that i can't order my bryant & may books from amazon uk. i object to having books 'americanized.' i'm in complete agreement with roger's comment. if i ever get more shelf space, i'm ordering the UK editions of all of bryant & may.

Derek J Lewis (not verified) Wed, 26/08/2020 - 12:50

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Sometimes I think I can't get more foolish but there's always another day.
Yesterday I discovered that my copy of full dark house had May smoking the pipe. 17 bloody years i've had that book (spring/summer 2003?) and haven't noticed
Today I discover that Bryant and May's mystery tour is in London's Glory (which i own and have read, it's that's last story) which has saved me buying it for 99p on kindle, you would not believe how many times my finger has hovered over the "buy" button.
Roxanne, I can buy books from Amazon US without any problems. however if you have any difficulties and need a UK edition I will happily buy it and ship it on unopened to you

Brooke (not verified) Wed, 26/08/2020 - 12:52

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

What Roger and Roxanne said about extreme Englishness. Search engines are okay but it's more fun to skye or email UK friends, ask and have them laugh at you.

I prefer the audiobook covers; they are less fussy, more consistent in style and Arthur and John look real, not cartoon-like. To my mind, these covers are better representations of the story.
Hope you're feeling as well as you look.

Derek J Lewis (not verified) Wed, 26/08/2020 - 12:57

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Sorry just thought of this and can't stop smiling. Imagine trying to read a copy of 'the Maltese falcon' If they'd decided to take the 'extreme americanisms' taken out.

Daren Murray (not verified) Wed, 26/08/2020 - 14:52

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Lost in Leicester Square also appears in Bureau of Lost Souls. The only story in More Citty Jitters that is not also found there (apart from City Jitters 1-8) is Cooking the Books, which can be found in Sharper Knives.

Frances (not verified) Wed, 26/08/2020 - 14:55

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Now I am upset that copies bought for kindle on Amazon US might be different to those on Amazon UK, or perhaps that is only the print editions. Ignorance was bliss.

Scott Andrews (not verified) Wed, 26/08/2020 - 15:02

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Janice actually is in Roofworld, as is Colin 'Mad Dog' Bimsley.

According to my notes (yes, I'm an obsessive, what of it?) "Janice is introduced before Colin, so that makes her the longest running character in the books by a hair. She's dating Hargreave altho she's 12 yrs younger than him which implies Janice is around 30, at a guess."

Arthur and Maggie are definitely in Disturbia, not sure if John is - haven't got that far in my re-read yet :-)

Peter T (not verified) Wed, 26/08/2020 - 15:19

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I can imagine and very much hope that in a hundred years some very serious academics will be studying the Bryant and May canon, trying to establish the order and dates of events and the literary works in which they featured.

Jan (not verified) Wed, 26/08/2020 - 15:49

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Is it not Colins dad who is Roofworld ? Bimsley senior. A man of the cloth - a Uniform officer!

And hang Mr. F was Janice not the girlfriend of DI Ian Hargreaves (his Mrs. being some other lady entirely?) Not claiming to know your works of literature better than you sir but I sort of remember this.

Helen Martin (not verified) Wed, 26/08/2020 - 17:13

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I'm just imagining a pub quiz night based on the works of Chris Fowler. I am amazed.

Roger (not verified) Wed, 26/08/2020 - 18:22

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

As someone who is extremely English, Brooke,I get thrown by some of Mr Fowler's terms. I'm inclined to think he invents some and is trying to see if they gain their own independent existence.

Brooke (not verified) Wed, 26/08/2020 - 21:18

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Roger, I think you're right. He claims credit for eating "al desko."
Mr. Fowler, re: your twitter inquiry about face furniture--in my era, often called birdcage mask veil or birdcage face veil, or sometimes just day veil.

snowy (not verified) Wed, 26/08/2020 - 22:32

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

It's a bally shame that our Continental Cousins can't get their claws on the goods. Spoke to my man about it, frightfully clever cove, must practically live on fish.

He gave me an explanation, all of which I heard, in words I recognised nearly all of, but still didn't quite get the full jist. Something to do with changing the Location setting on your electric reading slate to the United Kingdom, and one's apparent current domicile to one of the more select hotels in the capital, buying the object of one's desire and then changing all back tout suite.

Hoping to remove the rather supercilious look from his imperturbable visage, I ahem-ed and challenged him to account for the circs pertaining if one wanted the work in timber form. He sniffed rather pointedly and stated that one could always purchase a copy from Goldsboro books, or if that did not suit there were a number of commercial re-shipping companies that would, for a small commission undertake to provide overseas residents with a UK shipping address and then ship the booty out to them, with the addendum that one should always seek the most economic postal rate even if it did take up to 5 days longer.

Christopher Fowler Thu, 27/08/2020 - 11:44

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I can't believe how expensive it is to post to the US, otherwise I'd be mailing out my own copies. Watch out for an upcoming article to address 'extreme Englishness'.

Peter T (not verified) Thu, 27/08/2020 - 17:00

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

'Continental Cousins'? Would Sir be referring to all humankind resident on large, overseas land masses, to those in the rest of Europe or to those in the Dominions, former colonies and other areas that constitute North America? I suspect the last mentioned as the difficulties would seem to arise from the translation of Mr Fowler's works into what has, most unfortunately, been described as 'colonial English.'

Wayne Mook (not verified) Thu, 27/08/2020 - 17:48

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thanks Admin, I was playing a bit of devil's advocate.

Looking forward to the short story list. Hopefully the B&M stories will be marked.

Thanks for all the Lost in Leicester Square comments, I've always been tempted to get a copy of More City Jitters, even though I have the stories. Wasn't quite sure of the cross-over in tales.

Talking of face furniture I was reading about Orson Welles false noses, according to legend he thought his nose was too small, over the years he had bigger and bigger proboscises made. At the end of each film it's said he took them own and named them. Sounds like a Pinocchio tale, but seems he did have a thing about nasal envy.


David Ronaldson (not verified) Wed, 02/09/2020 - 08:00

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Arthur was in "Plastic", too. Sorry, I'll let go now...