Look at the sales of e-books last year, strip out the porn and the teenage vampires, and look at what’s left. At the top, there’s SJ Watson with the word-of mouth bestseller, Before I Go To Sleep, which has sold 286,000.
Then there’s the excellent Michael Morpurgo, with 121,000 e-books sold. Now ask yourself, which novelist living in Scotland had e-book sales of anything like that. JK Rowling? No: only 59,000 for The Casual Vacancy. Ian Rankin? Alexander McCall Smith?
No. Step forward Daniela Sacerdoti, Scotland’s new e-book queen. Last August, her e-book Watch Over Me was picked up as one of Amazon’s best reads for summer and soon went on to attract 500 reviews, most of them glowing. So far, it has sold 150,000 copies, nearly all e-reads, although this month publishers Black & White has finally brought it out in paperback.
The book – “a poignant story about letting go and moving on, with a little help from beyond the grave” – is the first that Daniela, an Italian former primary school teacher who lives in Glasgow with her Scottish husband and their two children, has written in English. But what seems to have impressed readers is the accuracy of its portrayal of rural Scotland. “I’ve always loved this country,” she says. “When I was 13 I read an article bout the Hebrides and I told my family that one day I would live there. Well, Glasgow’s not the Hebrides, but it’s close!
“What amazes me are the similarities between Highland culture and that of Piedmont, where I grew up. It’s so close that I imagine my Italian home village as Glen Avich, my fictional village in Scotland.”
Daniela wanted to be a writer ever since she was 13 and asked for a typewriter for her birthday, although she was 37 before she began writing in earnest. Her only regret is that she didn’t start any sooner. Daniela should have, because talent in her genes: her great-uncle was the renowned Italian writer Carlo Levi.
GREEN WITH ENVY
THE only problem with a friend’s literary success is that it can bring about what a feature in the latest issue of Mslexia magazine, calls “the last taboo” – jealousy. “Some writers get rid of it by admitting that they are envious,” says Amanda Craig. “Others swallow it – much as you have to swallow a lump of fat five times to stop being seasick.” Yeugh!