Bryant & May Are Stepping Out Into The City
When it came to positioning the next Bryant & May book, I and the Transworld team faced a dilemma; ‘Bryant & May’s Peculiar London’ is neither a novel nor a collection of short stories, but it has all of the characters you’d expect in a B&M adventure.
Nor was it a guide book. Its contents are impossible to catalogue and its tone is conversational rather than instructive. In fact, I’d argue that this is the least instructive book ever published on London. It may well be a book of London banter. The detectives chat with staff members and friends, arguing about everything from hangings to hauntings, and sometimes they slip away to the pub.
When I’d finally compiled it, I wasn’t entirely sure what I’d written. My agent hit the nail on the head; ‘It’s just like a normal Bryant & May novel without the complicated plot bits!’ I love a good complex plot but sometimes you need a break. Although it appears light and chatty, writing it pretty much took two decades. Each time I added another murder mystery to the canon I saved my research notes.
But how to define the look of it? First we agreed to format the book exactly as the others are formatted so that they look good together on a shelf. I can’t tell you how annoying it was to try collecting every volume of ‘The Fosdyke Saga’ and find that Volume Eleven is in a completely different format (and completely unobtainable, will pay good money etc).
I had in mind a vague Mary Poppins-y feel to the cover, but my first idea, bravely attempted by artist Max Schindler, created scale problems and looked a bit too frivolous.
Max and I felt that as Mr Bryant’s brain jumbles up London, it didn’t matter too much whether the city’s landscape was accurate so long as it reflected how he saw it. Some cover ideas arrive fully formed and ready to go. The book is the length of a normal Bryant & May novel, and of course features Raymond Land’s traditional introduction.
For me ‘Peculiar London’ is the summation of a lifelong affair with the city that always pulls me back. There will hopefully be another volume the following year, a mystery that concentrates more on murder than history, because while it’s not definitive, ‘Peculiar London’ is pretty much my final say on the capital city. It arrives on July 14.