Another day dawns, and with it comes yet another Voynich novel with a Templar twist – Francisco Díaz Valladares’s just-released novel “El Libro Maldito de los Templarios” (The Damned Book of the Templars) is a twisty whodunit taking the Voynich Manuscript as its raw material.
For English-language novelists, the big mystery here might be how a Voynich novel like this can have an initial run of 5000 (with strong expectations of a second print run shortly afterwards), at a time when print run sizes are generally diminishing (apart from celeb-centric tosh, sadly). Actually, the answer is horrifically straightforward: Spaniards are simply more Voynich-savvy than UK or American readers – if you look at Google Trends for “Voynich”, French, Spanish, Italian and German all rank above English.
So, the salutory lesson of the day for all you lovely Anglophone Voynich novelists out there is this: perhaps you should think about how your book is going to translate (culturally, technically, conceptually) before you write even a word of it, because English readers (Melvyn Bragg aside, bless ‘im) have basically no idea what you’re talking about. In fact, why publish it in English at all?