The Sheriff's Catch

By James Vella-Bardon

A man forced to join the Spanish Armada must flee fatal capture in 16th Century Ireland

Sunday, 22 April 2018

The Beast From The East And Other Stories

Dear all,


1.     The Beast From The East (Apologies to all Patrons)

This post’s title of course refers to recent unseasonal blizzards across the UK and Ireland which caused (and might still be causing) delays to the delivery of the novel to patrons.

A thousand pardons for this, I am very sorry that your patience was tested. I owe Paul Farrugia and Scott Cross, among others, a fair few beers by now!

You’d think that the Spanish Armada encountered enough unseasonal freakish weather causing it innumerable delays, without a bloody snowstorm from the east thrown in too! And if you think that a delay in your copy of the novel reaching Unbound’s offices from the warehouse was bad, then spare a thought for those Londoners who couldn’t even have a shower for almost a week because the water pipes were frozen solid! (which is not to mention all the homeless people in London who had to sleep in that maelstrom)

That said, most patrons should have by now received their copy, with a few of you having already read it. Thank you for all the fantastic feedback as well as the photos you sent through which are just great – please keep them coming! (a few of them can be seen at the end of this post)



2.     Published Author!

Let me first up confess that it still hasn’t yet sunk in that my Odyssey is finally over. The Sheriff’s Catch has at last been published! Thank you! Thank you!

After a decade spent chipping away on a long, lonely road, I just can’t get my head around the fact that my work is finally in print. Of late I feel like I’m walking around in this glowing cocoon of gratitude and humility, dizzied by a pinch of disbelief about it all. Once again, I’d like to thank everyone who helped to make this happen, and also extend my gratitude to all well-wishers and the new members of our movement who have sent me a stream of lovely messages of support and congratulations through the zillion means of personal communication we choose to use these days.

A few of you have also asked me about book sales and all I can say so far is that last week Agenda Bookshop informed me that their stock is nearly sold out. Today I was also notified by my German mate Gerhard that the novel is also sold out (again) on!

Thanks again to all patrons all for helping to make all this happen.


3.     Marketing

A massive THANK YOU to each patron (and other readers) who found some time to post a rating and review to Goodreads and / or Amazon. You will not believe what a massive difference this makes to helping The Sheriff’s Catch reach its target audience!

I’ve said it before and will say it again: at the end of the day, Amazon and Goodreads reviews are immeasurably helpful. So if those of you who have loved the novel could take five minutes out of your busy schedules to post a little something on these platforms, that would be just terrific.

Please give me a shout or drop me a line if you’re unsure how to go about it, and I’ll happily help you through it. Thanks also to all the people who have to date helped me to promote the novel pre- and post-publication and to get it out into the media, in libraries etc. You know who you are, I know who you are, and you can consider your names already inscribed in the Acknowledgements of A Rebel North (Woot! Woot!)

I remember watching an interview with Kylie Minogue (of all people) who – when asked what the least favourite part of her job as a performer was – said that she’d challenge any creative out there to say that they loved the promotional side of their work. Wise words from a hot chick, and - as sure as day follows night and The Odyssey follows The Iliad - no sooner have we stepped through the gates of publication that another stiff challenge presents itself. The many-headed hydra of marketing now stands in my path and will take some beating. I already feel a little bit like poor Santiago after being washed upon an Irish beach!

Which means that no sooner have I reached publication that I’m still burning the midnight oil to chase up the publisher, web designers, videographers, marketers, mail services, book reviewers, book bloggers, Bookstagrammers (yep, it is now a word), booktubers (don’t ask if you don’t yet know), newspapers, radio award organisers, agents, booksellers, promoters, among many, many others.

So in conclusion: any couple of minutes you find to post a review online gives me a real boost.

4.     Birthday Book Signing Bash

In recent months many friends and patrons have asked me about a launch party. They will by now have been notified about the upcoming double celebration of my birthday coupled with a book signing function to be held in Sydney in coming weeks. Should anyone reading this wish to attend and has not yet received an invitation, please do get in touch with me.

What better way to spend my birthday than with all the people who also love and who have helped create my debut novel? I cannot wait to throw myself into a well-earned celebration with you all. Bilbo Baggins it was who said: ‘it will be a night to remember!’ Which is not to mention that there’ll also be a little draw held in which the lucky winner will receive a free copy of (you guessed it) The Sheriff’s Catch! 

I’m also looking forward to my book-signing bash in Europe in coming months, together with all my splendid northern hemisphere patrons! I’ll keep everyone posted of my travel dates since I very much look forward to catching up with you all sometime this year! I’m particularly looking forward to getting back to Malta because it has been too long.

On that note, I’d like to thank Agenda Bookshop and Merlin Library for staunchly backing The Sheriff’s Catch, and Agenda wrote to me the other day to tell me that their stocks were almost sold out, and that they’d have to order more copies! Thanks also to The Sunday Times, The Malta Independent and TVM News for also being quick to offer me their support. Rare is the novelist who has a whole nation in his corner! :)


5.     A Rebel North

Many of you have also asked me when the sequel’s out, so I thought I’d say a little something on this too. I’m really looking forward to having some chunky Sheriff marketing initiatives out of the way by end of May, after which I’ll turn back to my chief delight: the writing!

Please rest assured that I’m chomping at the bit to get back into it as quickly as I can, and to get on with the editing and rewriting of A REBEL NORTH. I am of course a reader too, and am myself sick of waiting for George RR Martin's next instalments of A Song Of Ice And Fire – and on that note: when in God’s name is the next instalment of Captain Alatriste going to be translated in English?! That’s been a bloody eight year wait already!

So please believe me when I say that I’d love to produce the sequels as quickly as I can for all of my dear reader friends of different nations. However – as I’ve come to learn the hard way in recent months – anything involving dependence on or collaboration with others inevitably takes time! Couple that with my other work and family commitments, and we’re looking at another rocky year of hard juggling and climbing!

But as my own personal Odyssey draws to a close (and Santiago’s begins), I think I’ve by now got a smidgen of authority to remind you: all good things come to those who wait!




Best wishes


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