HAPPY NEW YEAR, Beloved Reader. I trust you all had a suitably festive Yule and managed to get through the most depressing day of the year – Monday the 5th January – without too many disasters. (Other than the spunnocks and starlings quarrelling so violently over the fatballs that they managed to pull down the whole line on which the feeders are strung, and a rabid mosquito that doesn’t appear to understand it’s actually midwinter, we’ve got away lightly this year. For which grateful thanks to the elder gods all round).
So from now on, it’s all systems go as we launch into our next exciting year of brilliant books!
I won’t pretend last year was a complete barrel of laughs – being sold is no fun for anyone – but all the grim stuff is now out of the way and we can now concentrate on getting our books out and (even more importantly) into your eager little hands.
2015 is going to be a great year: I can feel it in my bones. After all, it’s started with an invitation to be a guest of honour at Fantasycon in October alongside the wonderful John Connolly – as Fantasycon was one of the first conventions I ever attended (and with Stephen Jones I even ran a few, back in the day), I’m thrilled.
And LitAgentDrury and I will be sharpening our— no, not claws! Pencils! – as we’re going to be appearing at both WhitLit, the Whitstable Literary Festival, in my home town, and Winchester Writers’ Festival in Ian’s home town. (Next year we’ll be looking at towns beginning with the letter B . . .)
You’ll be wondering about what’s going on at JFB, I have no doubt: well, if you thought last year’s output couldn’t be bettered, watch this space. You know how hard I find it to select just two or three from my schedule for special mention, so I’m not going to do that; instead, at the start of each month I’ll whet your appetite with a quick preview of what’s coming – starting with right now, and Fortune’s Blight, the long-awaited sequel to Evie Manieri’s much-loved Blood’s Pride.
In this thrilling novel we join Eofar and Rho as they leave the Shadar bound for Norland, to beg for the Shadar’s independence, little realising that northern fastness has changed a great deal, not least because it has an energetic, ambitious new emperor who’s not going to look kindly on bits of his empire going their own sweet way. Meanwhile, back in the desert kingdom, poisoners are making life impossibly hard for the daimon, and entire families are vanishing without a trace. There’ll be no help coming from their Nomas allies either, for they have troubles of their own. As for Mongrel, she may have put aside her violent past, but her sins are about to revisit her a thousand-fold.
Intrigued? Well, the first review’s just in, from Publishers Weekly, no less, who say:
‘Resolution of that mystery is but one of the multiple intricate plot elements in this carefully crafted novel, which will draw in new and returning readers alike. The suspense, character development, and worldbuilding are all superior, and the ominous tone of the opening is sustained throughout, nicely setting the stage for the trilogy’s conclusion’.
Can’t ask for more than that, can we?
And the riches about, because we’ve got another long-awaited treat too, in the form of Karen Lord’s The Galaxy Game, the sequel to her highly lauded SF novel The Best of All Possible Worlds. Life is not so easy for Grace Delarua’s nephew Rafi. When his schoolmasters, unable to get to grips with his extremely strong psionic ability, cap him so they can analyse his brain, his aunt helps him escape. On Punartam, abilities like his are commonplace – and even better (as far as he’s concerned), the planet is the centre of his favourite sport, Wallrunning . . . and thanks to his best friend, the irrepressible Ntenman, Rafi finds himself training with elite Wallrunners. But it’s not long before Rafi realises he’s actually involved in quite a different game, for the galaxy is changing, and he’s right in the middle of the action.
‘Like The Best of All Possible Worlds before it, The Galaxy Game is a restrained space opera committed to splitting the difference between sweeping themes and smaller, sweeter story beats. It achieves this by focusing on unsuspecting characters caught up in machinations more elaborate than they can imagine – a pretty typical trajectory, to be sure, but don’t be fooled, folks: This is the most normal thing about these extraordinary novels, which take the tropes of science fiction as starting points and twist them both conceptually and intellectually . . . it’s every bit the book The Best of All Possible Worlds was: a smart science fictional fable as inventive and involving as it is finally vital.’
What a fantastic start to the year! And wait till you see what else we’ve got coming—
But, no, let’s ease you in slowly.
I will tell you that I’m hoping to add an amazing storyteller to our roster soon, but I’m revealing nothing more as we have to get through the pre-mortems and presentations and publishing meetings first, and as you now know, nothing is fixed until we have those contracts signed (in blood, natch!), sealed and delivered . . .
As for me, I’m off to edit The Pyre, David Hair’s amazing retelling of the Ramayana – I can’t wait!
But before I go, let me share this with you, hot off the press: Sue Tingey, our only debut this year, has just been selected by Amazon as a Rising Star of 2015. See? I told you we were going to have an amazing year!