Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Morse decoded in hardback

I'm beaming with pride because London publisher Reynolds & Hearn is issuing a revised and expanded edition of my book The Complete Inspector Morse next spring - in hardback. The first edition was a paperback that came out in 2002 and sold out within a few months. I subsequently discovered no shortage of minor errors and glitches that I wanted to correct, along with plenty of new material I wished I could add to the book. But the the television series at an end and Colin Dexter writing no more Morse novels, the publisher was reluctant to issue a new edition. TCIM went out of print and by this year near mint copies of the book were commanding prices in excess of £100 on second hand websites.

But hopes of a new edition were revived last year when ITV announced it was commissioning a one-off drama about Morse's long-suffering sergeant, Lewis, with the approval of Colin Dexter and the participation of actor Kevin Whately. Filming on the story begin this past summer and the two-hour drama is scheduled for broadcast next month, in January. I decided to give R&H another nudge to see if they were interested in a fresh edition of TCIM, including a new chapter on the Lewis special.

Last month publisher Richard Reynolds confirmed the new edition was go, with 48 extra pages, more colour and more illustrtions and in hardback. My first hardback! Having a hardback published with my name on the cover has been a long held ambition of mine, but I must admit my hopes were fading it would happen before my 40th birthday next September. Now, it looks like that another ambition I'm going to fulfil - and on schedule.

Before news came through about the revised tome, I had worried working on the first edition had left me Morse-d out. But ITV has been repeating a run of Morses on Saturday afternoons. When I chanced upon one recently, it took me nearly two minutes to identify which of the 33 televised tales it came from. Now I'm re-watching all the Morses as I go through the manuscript, correcting factual errors that crept into the first edition. I'm happy to report I'm enjoying Morse as much as ever, particular the quality of the acting [the late, great John Thaw is much missed on TV these days] and the writing.

Thinking about all this, it reminds me the Morse tome was originally offered to Virgin Books but they turned it down. the TV show was dead so there was no market for a Morse programme guide. Thank god they spurned the book, as Marcus Hearn encouraged me to write a better book than Virgin would have published. Even so, I was never quite satisfied by my first crack at TCIM, especially after I worked on my book about the films of Michael Caine. I did much more research for that and produced a far more comprehensive volume as a result.

Since then I've been collecting material for TCIM, in the vague hope of a new edition. Now's my chance!

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