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We have two Derringer Award nominations for JFB authors: An Apple for the Creature contributors Mike Carey and Toni L.P.Kelner – who co-edited the anthology with Charlaine Harris.
Mike’s Iphigenia in Aulis and Toni’s Pirate Dave and the Captain’s Ghost are up against each other in the ‘Best Novelette’ category, so let’s hope the members of The Short Mystery Fiction Society love them both!
The winners will be announced on March 31.
I have awakened today as the proud (if temporary) possessor of a Golden Tentacle.
for last night I had the absolute pleasure of accepting on Karen Lord’s behalf the Kitschie Golden Tentacle Award for best debut novel for REDEMPTION IN INDIGO, her wonderful, lyrical (and award-winning!) retelling of a Senegalese folk tale. Karen sadly couldn’t join us at the Free Word Centre in Islington for the intelligent, progressive and entertaining Kitschie Awards presented by Anne Perry and Jared Shurin as she was halfway across the Pacific Ocean en route to the Adelaide Writers’ Week, where she is one of the guests. Sadly, nor could she partake of the excellent The Kraken Rum provided by the farsighted sponsors – a bigger shame than you might at first realise, for Karen, being a Caribbean writer, knows a thing or two about rum as well as writing!
But she was alerted instantly, thanks to the magic of smartphones, and when she wakes up in Australia later today, I know she’s going to be thrilled. Her agent, the lovely Sally Harding, said it for us all: ‘That is bloody brilliant!’
And while I’m at it, can I also say a big ‘Congrats!’ to Nick Harkaway, not just for his sartorial elegance but for winning the Red Tentacle for Angelmaker (William Heinemann), to Dave Shelton, who walked off with the Inky Tentacle for his cover art for his own A Boy and a Bear in a Boat (David Fickling Books), and to the World SF Blog who won the Black tentacle for ‘a work or body of work that does not otherwise fit The Kitschies’ criteria’, eloquently accepted on behalf of the team by Lavie Tidhar. All were, of course, intelligent, progressive and entertaining, as you would expect of any Tentacle-winner.
And I would also like to say an enormous ‘congratulations!’ to the shortlisted writers and artists, including, of course, our own Tom Pollock, whose THE CITY’S SON was up against REDEMPTION IN INDIGO in the Golden Tentacle category. Of course I wished with all my heart Tom was also taking home a tentacle – but his time will come, of that I am certain!
So now I’m going to take the Golden Tentacle for a walk – got to keep him fit and healthy for the handover to Karen at the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton, after all. And judging by the look @LitAgentDrury and I got when we carted him home on the Victoria Line last night, he will win friends and influence people wherever he goes.
Huge congrats to Mike Carey, whose short story ‘Iphigenia in Aulis’, from An Apple for the Creature edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner, is up for an Edgar Award – huzzah!
The Edgars are given by the Mystery Writers of America; the winner will be announced at the Edgar Banquet on Thursday, May 2.
Huge congrats to Mike Carey, whose short story Iphigenia in Aulis, from An Apple for the Creature edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner, is up for an Edgar Award – huzzah!
The Edgars are given by the Mystery Writers of America; the winner will be announced at the Edgar Banquet on Thursday, May 2.
This is what the Looking Around blog had to say about Mike’s “wonderful short story” …
Carey’s [has a] beautiful way with characters, plot and language will no doubt be evident whatever his genre. The title refers to a Greek legend, previously immortalized in a Euripedes play. How the subject matter of that play is woven through the story is just one of Carey’s many masterful touches.
I am particularly anxious to avoid spoilers where this story is concerned, so I will say only that it provides an unusual take on a fairly common theme, and that it will break your heart — “in a good way,” as my daughter might say. This is a story that clutches at you and stays with you. I haven’t yet finished the anthology; so far, I have enjoyed some of the other stories, and leafed through others. But this one story, at least, is not to be missed.
Incredibly excited to announce that Karen Lord’s “Redemption in Indigo” AND Tom Pollock’s “The City’s Son” have been nominated for the Golden Tentacle for best debut in the Kitschie Awards!
We’ve got some very exciting news for you today: JFB have acquired a new trilogy by Tom Fletcher called The Factory Trilogy. This marks a new direction for Tom as his first foray into SF/Fantasy. Needless to say, it literally give me shivers of good. I can’t wait to get my hands on this. Here’s the lowdown:
The gargantuan Factory of Gleam is an ancient, hulking edifice of stone, metal and glass ruled over by chaste alchemists and astronomer priests.
As millennia have passed, the population has decreased, and now only the central district is fully inhabited and operational; the outskirts have been left for the wilderness to reclaim. This decaying, lawless zone is the Discard; the home
of Wild Alan.
Clever, arrogant, and perpetually angry, Wild Alan is both loved and loathed by the Discard’s misfits. He’s convinced that the Gleam authorities were behind the disaster that killed his parents and his ambition is to prove it. But he’s about to
uncover more than he bargained for.
Doesn’t it sound awesome? To check out what Tom has to say on the subject, you can head to his website, or you can chat to him on Twitter @T_A_Fletcher.
Tom has also released three other standalone horrors with us – The Leaping, The Thing on the Shore and The Ravenglass Eye, and is due to release a final standalone horror The Dead Fool, currently scheduled in September 2013 (subject to change).
If you google ‘Tom Fletcher’, you might find news about a floppy-haired focus of many a teenaged girl’s fantasy. You may come across the British ambassador to Lebanon.
If you are more blessed, however, you will find the writer Tom Fletcher, the skilled purveyor of elegantly nuanced horror.
I was recently at the launch of his third novel, The Ravenglass Eye (Jo Fletcher Books, 2012). The following day I had myself a copy and didn’t emerge for the next day and a half.
Ravenglass is a village on the coast of West Cumbria. It should be idyllic, with the mountains and the lakes, the Roman remains and steam trains and stone circles.
In The Ravenglass Eye, these attractions exist like a painted background, peopled with the cut out figures of tourists in brightly coloured waterproofs visiting antique fairs and pedalling their bicycles.
They are in another dimension from Edie and the other regulars of The Tup, on whom a dark heaviness is pressing in.
To close out my week of guest blogging here at Jo Fletcher Books, I wanted to take a look at the debuts Jo has lined up for us in the first six months of 2013. With novels ranging from mythical fantasy to genetic modification science fiction and settings inspired by cultures all over the world, we can look forward to an interesting crop of debut novelists in the next few months.
Amish – The Immortals of Meluha (January 3rd 2013)
1900 BC: the once-proud Suryavanshi rulers of the Meluha Empire are in dire peril. The empire’s primary river, the Saraswathi, is slowly drying up. There are devastating terrorist attacks from the east, the land of the Chandravanshis – and to make matters worse, the Chandravanshis appear to have allied with the Nagas, an ostracised race of deformed humans with astonishing martial skills.
The only hope for the Suryavanshis is an ancient prophecy: when evil reaches epic proportions and all seems lost, a hero will emerge . . .
First up is Amish’s The Immortals of Meluha. A runaway success in his home country India, this first book in the Shiva trilogy sounds fascinating, not just because of its unfamiliar settings, but because of its mythological roots and philosophical exploration of the nature of evil. And as a bonus, the second book in the trilogy, The Secret of the Nagas is due to be published soon after on April 25th.
Naomi Foyle – Seoul Survivors (February 28th 2013)
A meteor known as Lucifer’s Hammer is about to wreak destruction on the earth, and with the end of the world imminent, there is only one safe place to be.
In the mountains above Seoul, American-Korean bio-engineer Dr Kim Da Mi thinks she has found the perfect solution to save the human race. But her methods are strange and her business partner, Johnny Sandman, is not exactly the type of person anyone would want to mix with.
Drawn in by their smiles and pretty promises, Sydney – a Canadian model trying to escape an unhappy past – is an integral part of their scheme, until she realises that the quest for perfection comes at an impossible price.
This standalone cyber-thriller is set in a near-future Seoul, which already gives it a head start in the unique setting stakes. On the author’s website mention is made of a revolutionary gaming theme park, colluding arch enemies and a world in eco-collapse threatened by an impending meteor strike. Colour me intrigued.
Stephanie Saulter – Gemsigns (June 6th 2013)
For years the human race was under attack from a deadly Syndrome, but when a cure was found – in the form of genetically engineered human beings, Gems – the line between survival and ethics was radically altered.
Now the Gems are fighting for their freedom, from the oppression of the companies that created them, and against the Norms who see them as slaves. And a conference at which Dr Eli Walker has been commissioned to present his findings on the Gems is the key to that freedom.
But with the Gemtech companies fighting to keep the Gems enslaved, and the horrifying godgangs determined to rid the earth of these ‘unholy’ creations, the Gems are up against forces that may just be too powerful to oppose.
I love books that pose these kinds of ethical questions; when is a being human, how do we treat those who are Other? Stephanie Saulter’s Gemsigns sounds like it has some fascinating answers and a great future setting as well. This is definitely one novel I’m looking forward to.
Snorri Kristjansson – The Swords of Good Men (June 6th 2013)
To Ulfar Thormodsson, the Viking town of Stenvik is the penultimate stop on a long journey. Tasked with looking after his cousin after disgracing his father, he has travelled the world and now only wants to go home.
But Stenvik is different; it contains the beautiful and tragic Lilja, who immediately captures Ulfar’s heart. Because of her, he persuades his cousin to stay. But Stenvik is also home to some very deadly men, who could break Ulfar in an instant.
King Olav is marching on Stenvik from the East, determined to bring the White Christ to the masses at the point of his sword, and a host of bloodthirsty raiders led by a mysterious woman are sailing from the north. But Ulfar is about to learn that his enemies are not all outside the walls.
Vikings! What more do I need to say? Well, actually, there is a lot more to say about this debut. It’s a book in which the Old Gods confront the new and where betrayal is just around the corner. It’s also written by a true Viking descendant, as Snorri is originally from Iceland. However, the book was written in English, a feat I find astonishing, because even if my English isn’t shabby, I can’t imagine how hard it would be to write an entire novel in it. Then again, I can’t imagine writing a novel in Dutch either, so I’m impressed by anyone who can write a good story. The Swords of Good Men has been on my radar ever since Jo announced she’d signed Snorri and I’m looking forward to finally being able to read the book come June.
These are the four debuts currently lined up for the first six months of 2013. What do you think? Any one of them catch your eye?
When I got in this morning I had, in my inbox, an excellent piece of news from the author of The Snowmelt River & The Tower of Bones, Frank P. Ryan. The message said that – in one day, The Snowmelt River had managed to storm the Amazon bestseller lists (Epic Fantasy) and rise to number 8, only just behind the likes of J.R.R. Tolkein and George R.R. Martin! So if you fancy seeing what the fuss is about – check it out here or get in on your Kindle for just £1.49 at the moment! And don’t just take my word for it – here’s the evidence:
Excuse the delay folks, we were so busy recovering from FANTASYCON we may have forgotten to write!
27th- 30th September marked our second FantasyCon, and it gets better every year. For example, this year our very own Nicola Budd sat on two panels and we hosted a very successful party for our attending (and absent) authors! (More on that later).
The Jo Fletcher authors really represented by coming down to Brighton en force, which was brilliant because we’ve been waiting for such a perfect chance to show them off.
Those attending included one of the FantasyCon organizers, Stephen Jones (Book of Horrors/Curious Warnings), Alison Littlewood (A Cold Season), Sarah Pinborough (Mayhem), Tom Pollock (The City’s Son), Stephanie Saulter (Gemsigns), Naomi Foyle (Seoul Survivors), and Snorri Kristjansson (Swords of Good Men).
Highlights were as follows: On Friday, Tom Pollock did an inspired (and world debut!) reading from the next book in the Skyscraper Throne trilogy entitled The Glass Republic, (complete with natural Game of Thrones pose) Meanwhile, Alison Littlewood sat on a panel called ‘Does Gender Matter?’ about gender roles in Fantasy and SF.
Saturday dawned, beautiful and sunny. For those participants who could drag themselves out of bed or away from the beach, the day had many fantastic things in store. Jo Fletcher’s lovely assistant Nicola moderated the panel ‘Ask the Editor’, where she posed many a tricky and insightful question to her interviewees, which included Gillian Redfearn and Simon Spanton, both from Gollancz. Alison Littlewood joined Thana Niveau and Tony Richards to talk about the makings of a good short story.
After a short break for lunch (and drinks!), and a brief jaunt by the sea with Stephanie Saulter, we were back for an afternoon of stimulating fantasy discussion including panels on fairy tales, steampunk, and the future of YA.
JFB re-congregated in the evening, first to support Nicola in her packed-out panel ‘Print versus Electronic’ (because, to be honest, who doesn’t have an opinion on that?), then for a dinner of fish and chips with the JFB authors organised by Quercus Head of Publicity Lucy Ramsey.
After stuffing ourselves with the fruits of the sea, we returned to the hotel for the JO FLETCHER BOOKS PARTY (once more, spectacularly planned and executed by the wondrous Lucy Ramsey!). There were cocktails, there were speeches, and there were beautiful books for sale. What more could you want?
. . . Icelandic brandy, of course (and thanks to Snorri, there was some of that too.)
Sunday morning saw a brief dip in energy as FantasyCon attendees struggled to recover from the . . . er . . . intellectual stimulation of the last two days, but everyone bucked up for the final party: the FantasyCon 2012 Banquet and Awards Ceremony. JFB proudly commanded its own table in the very centre of the room, and even won an award: Angela Slatter, author of The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter (from A Book of Horrors, ed. Stephen Jones) won best short fiction.
As you can see, it was a weekend of discovery for all of us, and great fun to see a lot of old and new faces. Perhaps the most succinct way to end my report is with a quote from JFB author Snorri Kristjansson (who probably could have summed up this whole article for me in the two sentences below). Snorri writes of his first FantasyCon:
‘FantasyCon was magical. It magically changed all my money into a suitcase full of new books and two champion hangovers.’
Ah yes: it’s time for my annual treat: my trip to what is generally considered to be the most important rights fair in the publishing trade. Last week one of my Beloved Authors, commiserating with me, admitted he had taken his girlfriend to Frankfurt Book Fair one year. She liked books, apparently, and had discovered it was open to the public.
So before we go any further, let me please make one thing clear: just because an event is open to the public, it doesn’t mean the public should go!
I don’t known quite what the young lady was expecting, but apparently it wasn’t several enormous halls, all filled wall-to-wall with stands decorated with books you cannot actually take away with you and filled with publishers and editors and members of the rights and export sales teams who are engaged in a strange dance where, on the half-hour, every half-hour, one of each couple meeting gets up and moves to another stand, and the same words, sometimes rearranged into a different order, are repeated as everyone selling tries desperately to interest potential publishers in their books, and everyone buying
fails to resist the temptation to say ‘I’ll look at it’ (even when they know it wouldn’t stand a hope in hell on their list).
I don’t know if it made matters worse for the girlfriend that pretty much the only food on offer in the Buchmesse are any number of würst, but I don’t believe it can have helped: let’s face it, no mater how you dress it up, German sausage is really not the most romantic of food choices, is it?
But for the publisher, there are compensations (even if the only fresh air you’ll get all week is moving from Hall Eight – the main English-speaking foreign publishers’ hall – to Hall 6 – the agents’ centre). For those of us who do this regularly, it’s a great opportunity to meet one’s European and Asian peers – it’s a joy to me that genuine friendships have been built on those 30-minute slots. I realised, when I was checking my schedule this weekend (the one that Nicola started putting together the week after London Book Fair!) that there were a couple of notable absences, and when I double-checked that I’d not accidentally missed anyone, I was really disappointed to discover that my Portuguese chum Pedro isn’t going this year. (Don’t worry: I shall make sure he still gets everything I have that’s even remotely suitable – after all, I’ve been meeting him for years and I know just what he likes!)
So now I am off to pack: as long as I have my schedule, my special JFB rights guide that Kathryn did such a great job putting together before she left Rights for Editorial, and of course my incredibly classy business cards (thanks, Pat and Keith); thus armed I shall sally forth to place my Beloved Authors the length and breadth of Europe, and hopefully even down into Asia . . .
For times are hard across the world, but people still need to read. And what could be better to chase away the gloom of recession than a JFB book?
The writing game is a fickle beastie.
It’s not all splash and dash – any writer will tell you that very few aspects of the life move swiftly (well, except for money out of wallets and the brief lives of bottles of red wine).
There’s a lot of slow-motion stuff – rather like the Bionic Man or Woman running – a lot of thinking about the same stuff over and over, waiting for responses to submissions, making endless cups of coffee in the hope that caffeinated percolation will assist story percolation, and doing the research you know is designed to keep you away from the horrible moment when you sit down to actually write.
I like to call this ‘procrinspiration’, which is a term I came up with whilst, err, procrastinating.
My point? Writing is a slow game.
There are no limos turning up on your doorstep, no one throwing cash at you (unless your day job is pole-dancing in order to support your writing habit), no continuous popping of champagne corks, no glamour. In short, no one really pays much attention to you for very long periods of time.
Hopefully, though, someone in your life does pop in to check you’ve not died and been eaten by the cat, nor have you taken to wearing an aluminium hat in order to stop all your great story ideas from escaping. It’s often been said that writing is a solitary profession – which is really stating the bloody obvious and I would like to give that person a bit of a slap.
Yes, some days, it does get to you. You sort of want to have someone pay attention, just for a little while.
I have been known, on occasion, to tear a piece of paper up into tiny confetti-sized pieces and throw it in the air as part of a personalised ticker-tape parade.
But then, I am a sad git and should probably get out more.
But the solitude is okay on several levels. Most of us don’t really play well with others.
Our preferred companions are imaginary friends who, while they may well talk back, at least don’t steal the last biscuit.
Imaginary friends don’t care if you’ve brushed your hair for a few days, nor do they care that your shirt is inside-out and that you’re wearing mismatched socks.
Some days, however, the writing gods are good and kind. Some days you wake up to find you’ve won a British Fantasy Award and people are saying nice things about you – at least until they read the bit about the mini ticker-tape parades.
Those days are delightful and surprising and, when you consider the other folk on the short list, extremely humbling. The whole experience is brief and beautiful and fleeting.
You also discover that you can only pull the ‘But I won a British Fantasy Award – I deserve chocolate’ gig so many times (fifteen, to be precise).
This is an experience I will treasure on those other days, when the writing gods have hangovers and decide that misery should have company.
On those occasions when I decide I am a bad writer, that I cannot string two words together, that Stephen and Jo must have been mad to accept my story, that I should simply take up house painting (or pole-dancing) full-time, and that the writing police are about to tap me on the shoulder and denounce me as a fraud, I will remember this day and think Maybe, just maybe I am doing something right.
HUGE congratulations to Angela Slatter, whose story ‘The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter’, from A Book of Horros, edited by Stephen Jones, has just won the British Fantasy Award.
It was presented at the British Fantasy Convention last weekend. And congratulations from Jo Fletcher Books to all the other winners, and to those shortlisted too: we hope the celebrations lasted well over the 24-hour mark!
So, as with the last blog I did, a shameful *ahem* twoweeksago, I’m still ridiculously busy and, as I am wont to do, I am behaving like the world is about to fall down around my ears. This not being the case, I should really calm down, but I’m off to FantasyCon on Friday, and after that I’ve got a week and a half holiday, and let me tell you, in publishing, it can feel like you’ve been cryogenically frozen and woken up in an office twenty years later if you have even a few days holiday – I’m panicking. I will calm down. And FantasyCon is pretty much the perfect excuse to have a little fun.
Last year I went along to my first Con; myself all green and the event and venue looking so shiny and new. It was there I first met, of our own authors: Tom Pollock, Tom Fletcher, John Ajvide Lindqvist and Les Edwards, Stephen Jones was there too, and Sarah Pinborough, the master of ceremonies. And it was there that I first discovered the magic word ‘expenses’, attended a midnight panel on horror featuring Ramsey Campbell with Fantasy-Faction, had a bad dancing competition with two of our authors (Tom and Tom, I’m looking at you), and discovered that yes, you can lose your voice if you talk/squeal/drink too much – a fact I had previously never proven. This year I am hoping for much of the same.
Except this year, there will also be a lot more of our authors attending. We’ll have Stephanie Saulter and Naomi Foyle – both releasing SF books at the beginning of next year (Gemsigns and Seoul Survivors, respectively), Snorri Kristjansson – releasing his viking fantasy novel Swords of Good Men next July, Tom Pollock – whose second novel The Glass Republic is out next August, Sarah Pinborough – whose Jack the Ripper historical crime/horror novel Mayhem will be out with us next May, Stephen Jones, whose next anthology Fearie Tales will be out just in time for WorldCon next year and Alison Littlewood, whose horror novel Path of Needles will be out in January *whew*. I’ll also be making a speech at the JFB party as Jo will not be attending this year *cries*. So much of the same, but also BIGGER and, hopefully better for it.
If you’re heading down to Brighton this year, do come and say hi and chat to some of our authors (three of whom have never been to a Con) and if you need me, I’ll be the one they’re dragging out from under a table at the JFB party (note to self: get help for fear of public speaking).
Good morning, Beloved Readers (although I fear it might be Good Afternoon by the time I finish this. Perhaps we’ll settle for merhaba, which means hi, or good-day, instead). I am tearing myself away from my ever-more-frantic hunt for a central heating engineer – actually, I might just have found a central heating engineer; what I haven’t yet tracked down is where exactly the faulty central heating pump is – to give you my weekly dose
of publishing wisdom. I’ll be brief this week, because I really do need to work out which floorboards I am going to have to tear up (and, more importantly, how many bookshelves I will have to empty, and where I’m
actually going to stack those books whilst the ancient pump is replaced).
But for the moment I will cease crawling around the floors with my head to the ground, hoping my ancient Indian skills will help me detect a (non-working) pump and play with you instead, because I do have some thrilling news to share.
The first email I opened this morning said:
Spennandi tímar eru framundan hjá Snorra Kristjánssyni, rithöfundi í London en nýverið skrifaði hann undir útgáfusamning við Jo Fletcher Books. Eins og glöggir lesendur Smugumenningar muna ef til vill var rætt við Snorra hér á vefnum fyrr á árinu og þótti ekki úr vegi að fá hann nú til að segja örlítið frá hinum nýja samningi.
Hurrah! I thought. Now I know I’ve made it. Well, maybe not made it, exactly, but my fledgling imprint is now known in Iceland! What could be cooler than that?
I imagine you’re all sitting there wondering what on earth I had to do to get Jo Fletcher Books inserted into the middle of such an exciting paragraph – well, the more alert amongst you may remember a couple of months ago I was getting very excited about a long negotiation I was engaged in, and I promised to Reveal All in the near future.
And the near future is now: on Friday I released the news that I have signed up Icelandic stand-up comedian (and sometime teacher) Snorri Kristjansson, who’s written SWORDS OF GOOD MEN, the first of a fabulously bloody Viking saga. And who doesn’t love a fabulously bloody Viking saga? (It has nothing whatsoever to do with my long-help yearning to visit Iceland, I promise – not least because the author’s been inconsiderate enough to move to London. Harrumph!).
Nicola’s been wanting to Tweet this for weeks, but I’m a little superstitious about announcing anything until I have signed contracts in my hot little hand (and that requires an inordinate amount of backwards-and-forwards as the agent, the contracts manager and I argue about terms that rarely if ever get called upon; we generally agree about the big stuff – how much we’re paying and when). Once all the paperwork was signed – check out Snorri’s blog here http://snorrikristjansson.com/?p=184 for a brilliant representation of said signature – my publicity director Lucy Ramsey listened to everything agent, author and publisher wanted in the press release and whittled it down from those several thousand words to the pithy single page that would make book-lovers the world over sit up and pay attention. We waved it off and waited for it to land on the various websites, from The Bookseller to The British Fantasy Society and all stops in between.
I don’t quite know why I’m surprised to find the whole thing translated into glorious Icelandic (at least, I’m assuming that’s what it is, and I’m also assuming (hoping?) that pressing a button that says Líka þetta means ‘Like’ in Facebook terms, otherwise I might have to start regretting my over-enthusastic reaction! (That þ: that’s a runic letter, that is. I haven’t had to type a runic letter before – well, not since I attempted to learn Elvish when I first read Tolkien, all those years ago. I think we’re going to have fun with my first-ever Icelandic author!)
Anyway, I’d like you all you give a huge welcome to Snorri as he joins our vibrant little community, and watch out for SWORDS OF GOOD MEN, coming to a bookshop near you next year.
Next up: a zombie western . . .
But right now, I have to find a forked twig. I’m trying dowsing for the pump this afternoon.
So this week, our lovely readers, I have been manically busy, running around the office like a headless chicken (because that sounds better than sitting at my desk like a headless chicken – which does not work as an analogy, but is, perhaps, more truthful). So goes the life of an editorial assistant though *sighs dramatically*. Luckily, I love this job, and I like organising stuff, or this would all resemble a MESS OF EPIC PROPORTION.If I had to pick a highlight of this week though, it would be the announcement of the lovely @snorrikristjans as the next in our long line of prestigious authors. Check out the full announcement here. Those of you who were at the fantasy-faction evening with Myke Cole, Peter Brett and Joe Abercrombie, will likely have met Snorri there, as the mere mention of Joe Abercrombie was enough to convince him to attend. But as we are now officially allowed to chat about his book, I’m going to do that now.
The Swords of Good Men is a Viking fantasy novel. Our first novel of that ilk, in fact, and it’s awesome. It’s got a mad king determined to bring the White Christ to the masses, a mysterious and beautiful woman drawing the souls of dead warriors to her cause, a gentle blacksmith with dangerous blood and a young hero, who has a lot to learn about the cruelty of the world. And they’re all converging on Steinvik, a place where your enemies do not necessarily reside outside the walls . . . It’s fast, vicious and reminiscent of Joe Abercrombie – I advise you to keep an eye on this one, young padawan. If you’d like to catch up with Snorri, you can chat to him on twitter @SnorriKristjans or head to his website, www.snorrikristjansson.com, or catch him at FantasyCon this year; if you’re going come say hi!
In the mean time, I hope everyone is enjoying this week’s BIG BOOK GIVEAWAY over on our Twitter feed @jofletcherbooks and those of you that enjoy horror are looking out for Tom Fletcher’s latest novel The Ravenglass Eye, coming out next month, as well as our first epic fantasy novel by David Hair, Mage’s Blood, containing some of the most awesome maps I have ever seen from artist Emily Faccini.
‘Til next week, dear reader, I’m signing out.
Aidan Harte to speak on panels at Octocon!
On 13th and 14th October at The Camden Court Hotel in Dublin, the 22nd Octocon (National Irish Science Fiction convention) will be taking place. And one of this year’s panelists is none other than our very own Aidan Harte, author of the fantastic Irenicon. So if you happen to be over in Dublin – why not head along, check out the awesomeness of the convention and have a listen?
Both of Aidan’s panels take place on Saturday 13th October in Room 2:
1pm Realistic relationships in SF & F
3pm Creating Alternative Histories
You can let us know if you’re planning on going on Twitter @jofletcherbooks – go on, you know you want to
It’s been a good while since my last update and there’s been a LOT going on. So I’m going to try and do a quick roundup of some of the most important stuff:
First congratulations are in order for Jo heself who has been nominated for a World Fantasy Award for her spectacular editing. Well done!
We are also happy to say that two of our books, Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord and Tom Pollock’s The City’s Son, were longlisted for the Guardian’s Not-the-Booker prize.
Huge congratulations also to JFB author David Hair, who has just won New Zealand’s LIANZA Children’s Book Award for YA Fiction for his novel Pyre of Queens. The LIANZA Awards are chosen by Librarians for outstanding children’s literature in New Zealand, and I know David’s thrilled.
Pyre of Queens is the first book in his series Return of Ravana, based on the great Indian epic The Ramayana and published by Penguin NZ.
David’s first novel for adults, the exceptionally wonderful Mage’s Blood, is the first in his epic fantasy series The Moontide; we’ll be publishing it in October, so you don’t have long to wait now!
I mentioned The City’s Son and last night was our amazing launch party in (where else?) Forbidden Planet. Tom sold 70 copies of his new novel, beating their last record-holder Scott Lynch, whose total was 46. There’s an email from Forbidden Planet with the details below:
Hello – and thank you for last night. That all went wonderfully well!
I’ve checked with Alex this morning, and we had 100 books in total, of which 20 moved though Mail Order and we had 10 signed on pre-order in the office.
That still means through, that there were 70 books on the table and 70 books sold on the night – passing Scott Lynch’s previous record of 46 by a sizeable margin.
So congratulations all round!!
Also, please can we ask Tom to pop back in (as soon as he can please!) and sign some more stock for us?
For those of you who missed out but would like to see him, Tom will be at Blackwells for a YA day on Saturday 18th starting at 2pm.
Over and out!
Some of you may know that last week was a reason to celebrate: Elizabeth Hand won the The Shirley Jackson Award last week for her novella ‘Near Zennor’, from A Book of Horrors, edited by Stephen Jones. If you don’t know, now you do, and just as an extra treat, we have a few words from the author herself:
‘The Shirley Jackson Awards ceremony last Sunday at Readercon was an incredible thrill. Jackson’s daughter, Sarah (Sadie) Hyman DeWitt was in attendance all weekend; I got to hear her marvellous presentation about her mother on Saturday, and she was at the SJA Sunday as well. So it was a genuine once-in-a-lifetime experience for ‘Near Zennor’ to receive the award for Best Novella. Among other things, Sadie spoke about her mother’s belief in the supernatural – she didn’t elaborate on this, but the thought made me long for a time machine, so that I might ask Jackson’s opinion as to the strange events that inspired ‘Near Zennor’ back in 1971 when I was a young teenager. I was never able to make sense of them, nor could my lifelong friend Janine, who was with me at the time (along with another friend who we’ve lost touch with). In the story, I was able to come up with a narrative: would that real life worked that way. I love West Penwith, the remote part of Cornwall where ‘Near Zennor’ is set – it both captivates and unnerves me. I’m an American who’s spent a great deal of time in the UK over the last seventeen years, but I’m always aware that I’m an outsider in an ancient country, and never more so than when in Penwith.
There is not just one you, there are many yous. We’re part of a multiplicity of universes in parallel dimensions – and Everett Singh’s dad has found a way in.
But he’s been kidnapped, and now it is as though Everett’s dad never existed. Yet there is one clue for his son to follow, a mysterious app: the Infundibulum.
The app is a map, not just to the Ten Known Worlds, but to the entire multiverse – and there are those who want to get their hands on it very badly. If Everett’s going to keep it safe and rescue his dad, he’s going to need friends: like CaptainAnastasia Sixmith, her adopted daughter and the crew of the airship Everness.
But to be honest, that can’t even begin to describe the action-packed adventure that is Planesrunner, the best I can probably do to capture it is post this quote:
The kind of airship-dueling, guns-blazing fantasy that makes me wish I could pop through to the next reality over, join the Airish, and take to the skies” —Paolo Bacigalupi, Michael L. Printz Award–winning author of Ship Breaker
That’s what it’s all about. And, because I work at Jo Fletcher Books, I can tell you that not only is this first book in the series brilliant but the second one, Be My Enemy, ramps it up another notch on the excitement scale, it’s a series so very worth investing in.
We will be releasing Planesrunner in January 2013, but until that point, here’s the cover reveal I promised you (cover art courtesy of Chris Shamwana at Ghost Design):
Hi All! Some very exciting news for JFB fans this week – as of Thursday our sampler programme went live – in other words, you can sign up to receive a free sampler every quarter packed full of sneak peeks at upcoming books from JFB. Each sampler will contain the first chapters of all of our books coming out during the next quarter – they will also each have a specially designed cover depending on the content of the sampler. So this month, here’s the image from the cover <— and contained within like diamonds glittering in the earth (yep – so not a writer) are the first chapters of the following books:
Shadow © Will Elliott 2011
Eric and Case came to the world of Levaal through a door in an old railway arch, and it wasn’t long before they found themselves caught up in the war to control this strange land. But the Wall at World’s End, which once divided Levaal, has been brought down. Eric and his companions are forced to flee from the Tormentors, the dreadful creatures that poured through the breach, and there are rumours that one of the great dragons has escaped its sky prison.
But there is even more to fear, for the transformation into a god of Vous, Friend and Lord of the world, is almost complete, and a being called Shadow who looks remarkably like Eric is wandering Levaal with great power but no purpose it yet understands. The end might be coming faster than anyone thinks.
The Silver Bough © Lisa Tuttle 2006
Appleton is a small town nestled on the coast of Scotland. Though it was once famous for the apples it produced, these days it’s a shadow of its former self. But in a hidden orchard a golden apple dangles from a silver bough, an apple believed lost for ever. The apple is part of a legend, promising either eternal happiness to the young couple who eat from it secure in their love – or a curse, for those who take its gift for granted.
Now, as the town teeters on the edge of decline, the old rituals have been forgotten and the mists are rolling in. And in the mist, something is stirring . . .
Planesrunner © Ian McDonald 2012
There is not just one you, there are many yous. We’re part of a multiplicity of universes in parallel dimensions – and Everett Singh’s dad has found a way in. But he’s been kidnapped, and now it is as though Everett’s dad never existed. Yet there is one clue for his son to follow, a mysterious app: the Infundibulum.
The app is a map, not just to the Ten Known Worlds, but to the entire multiverse – and there are those who want to get their hands on it very badly. If Everett’s going to keep it safe and rescue his dad, he’s going to need friends: like Captain Anastasia Sixmith, her adopted daughter and the crew of the airship Everness.
The City’s Son © Tom Pollock 2012
Hidden under the surface of everyday London is a city of monsters and miracles, where wild train spirits stampede over the tracks and glass-skinned dancers with glowing veins light the streets.
When a devastating betrayal drives her from her home, graffiti artist Beth Bradley stumbles into the secret city, where she finds Filius Viae, London’s ragged crown prince, just when he needs someone most. An ancient enemy has returned to the darkness under St Paul’s Cathedral, bent on reigniting a centuries-old war, and Beth and Fil find themselves in a desperate race through a bizarre urban wonderland, searching for a way to save the city they both love.
The City’s Son is the first book of The Skyscraper Throne trilogy: a story about family, friends and monsters, and how you can’t always tell which is which.
The Snowmelt River © Frank P. Ryan 2012
On the summit of the fabled mountain Slievenamon in Ireland there is a doorway to an ancient land of terrible power. The gate of Feimhin has lain closed for centuries, the secret of its opening long lost.
But now four orphans drawn together by Fate must pass through the portal to face their destinies. What they find beyond is the enchanted but war-ravaged world of Tír, a strange land populated by monsters. Here death waits at every corner and they must learn to fight if they are to survive.
And they’d better learn quickly, because their enemy, the Tyrant of the Wastelands, is growing in power.
Blood’s Pride © Evie Manieri 2012
A generation has passed since the Norlanders’ great ships bore down on Shadar, and the Dead Ones slashed and burned the city into submission, enslaving the Shadari people.
Now the Norlander governor is dying and, as his three alienated children struggle against the crushing isolation of their lives, the Shadari rebels spot their opening and summon the Mongrel, a mysterious mercenary warrior who has never yet lost a battle. But her terms are unsettling: she will name her price only after the Norlanders have been defeated.
A single question is left for the Shadari: is there any price too high for freedom?
Blood Therapy © Lynda Hilburn 2012
Kismet Knight knows exactly how to handle her patients, but when it comes to her love-life, she’s on less steady ground. That was until she met master vampire Devereux, an 800-year-old hunk, who not only managed to convince the entirely rational shrink that vampires really do exist – he also convinced her to start dating him.
Kismet’s still having nightmares after being kidnapped by Lucifer, a schizophrenic vampire. From a therapeutic perspective she finds his split personalities fascinating – but she’s constantly terrified. And Dev’s become obsessed with finding Lucifer – before he comes after Kismet again.
So much for her nice, ordinary life . . .
Hope that sounds like a good little list to start off with! If you’re interested, check out the popup in the right bottom corner of your screen and get ready to receive your portal to the unknown (otherwise known as a book).
Hi All! Had some lovely news this morning that the story from Lynda Hilburn Til Death Do Us Part - a Kismet Knight short – is available on Amazon for free. For those who don’t know Lynda’s work already, her first book The Vampire Shrink was out with us last year, has sold well over 200,000 copies on kindle and reached no 1. on the Amazon charts. It’s also had some fantastic reviews:
‘This is a fresh take on the fantasy trope . . . it’s dark, sexy and very human’ SciFi Now
‘If you like your heroines modern and more than a little capable, and your vampires ancient, mysterious and gorgeous then you won’t be disappointed’ vampirelibrarian.com
‘Everything you could want – a gripping storyline, intriguing characters, humour, romance’ bookmonkey.com
‘A fascinating world, wicked and sexy’ author Kerrelyn Sparks
‘Believable, exciting and different, this series is one any vampire lover will surely adore’ Night Owl Romance
But why not see for yourself and head over to Amazon for a free short story now? Click here to be taken to it. And now, just to wet your whistle, here’s a short extract from The Vampire Shrink:
My involvement with vampires began innocently enough, long before the blood hit the fan, so to speak.
Like most psychologists, I’d been trained to view the world through a diagnostic lens, to hear my clients’ stories with my metaphorical ears, searching out the deeper meanings. Thankfully, my tendency to reduce each person to a prevailing neurosis was tempered by my irreverent, dark sense of humour, which kept me from taking myself and the world too seriously.
While I was never as bad as some of my colleagues about believing only in what I could prove – if you can’t quantify it, it isn’t there – I had seen enough bizarre situations in my psychotherapy work over the years to make me more sceptical than I was comfortable admitting. That said, my private practice had its share of UFO abductees, demonic possessions, satanic-ritual survivors, religious cultists, attached entities – all the newest selections on the menu of emotional and mental pain – alongside clients with all the ‘regular’ therapy issues.
So when I opened the door separating my reception area from my office that fateful Friday to welcome my new client, I was only momentarily surprised. Waiting for me was a young woman wearing a long black dress covered by a dark-purple velvet cape. Rings adorned all ten fingers, and a long snake bracelet with sparkling ruby eyes wound its way up her arm from wrist to elbow. She had waist-length light-brown hair with multicoloured streaks, and she wore white theatrical makeup, dark-red lipstick and remarkably lifelike, high-quality fangs.
My mind began to pick out the various category boxes I could assign her into. Hmmm, goth? Vampire wannabe? Acting-out teenager?
Well, well. This ought to be interesting.
‘Please come in and have a seat.’ I gave my warmest therapy smile and waved my hand in the general direction of the couch and chairs in the centre of my office. ‘I’m Dr Knight. Please call me Kismet.’
That’s quite an outfit. Spectacular, really. This sweet young thing has a flair for the dramatic. And what’s that delicious fragrance? Sandalwood?
She walked in silently, handed me the packet of forms she’d filled out in the waiting room and sat on the end of the couch farthest from where I was standing. Scanning the information, I noticed she’d listed her name as Midnight.
‘Midnight? That’s a lovely name. Is there a last name?’
‘No. I have no need of anything from my human past,’ she said, with exaggerated seriousness and a dismissive flick of her fingers.
Okay. Let’s not assume the obvious. I chose a chair across from her and picked up my notepad and pen. ‘Tell me how I can help you.’
‘I’m only here because my family made me come. They can’t accept my choices and they’re hoping you’ll talk me out of wanting to be a vampire. They want you to fix me.’ Her voice separated each angry word like little staccato notes.
She gave me the once-over I’d come to expect from my younger clients: the smirking scan that evaluated my tailored light-blue suit and sensible black heels and found them hopelessly conventional. Then, inevitably, her eyes moved to my dark hair, which was very long, curly and often had a mind of its own. The dissonance between my conservative suit and the unintentional rock-star hair disrupted the inner picture she was constructing of me. My age – I’d not long turned thirty – added to the dissonance. I always enjoyed the flash of confusion that washed over their faces at that point. My inner trickster was never far away.
She hiked her dress up until the hem rested on her knees and crossed her legs dramatically. ‘You’re not what I expected.’
‘What did you expect?’ Freud in drag?
‘Someone old, with her hair in a bun and no makeup. You’re not that much older than me And you’re pretty. You remind me of that actress – Megan Fox, the one with the long dark hair and blue eyes.’ She studied me. ‘Or maybe Angelina Jolie, except with blue eyes and less lips.’
Less lips? I knew what she meant, but I ran my tongue over my standard set of two just to verify their existence and tried not to imagine an extra pair on Angelina’s face.
‘Thank you. Are you comfortable with someone who isn’t old and who doesn’t have her hair in a bun?’
She frowned. ‘I guess so.’
I could see that her need to connect was struggling with her automatic protective defences and the jury was out as to which one would continue the session.
‘That’s a start.’ I smiled encouragingly at her. ‘So tell me about your desire to be a vampire. How long have you wanted to be one?’
She pursed her lips and sat silently for a few seconds. Quick flashes of emotion danced across her face as fear, disappointment and resentment gave way to hope. ‘Ever since I met Devereux – Dev, as we call him – about a year ago,’ she said dreamily.
Ah, connection won. Maybe she’ll let me in.
‘Why would meeting Dev make you want to be a vampire?’
‘Well, duh, because he is one.’ She rolled her chocolate-brown eyes and made that ‘tsk’ sound with her tongue against her teeth.
I kept the practised smile on my face and ignored the teenage angst. ‘Can you tell me about Dev?’
Sounds like a lost child has convinced her that he’s a vampire.
She stared down at the floor, using the tip of her tongue to play with the fangs. ‘I don’t think I’m supposed to talk about him. He wouldn’t want me to. He says it’s better if no one believes vampires really exist.’
Of course he does. Oh, I see. Her sharp little fangs fit perfectly over her own canines, with an almost-invisible band holding them in place – similar to braces. How clever.
‘Do you believe that vampires really exist?’ I tried not to sound as if there was only one right answer to the question.
‘Oh, yes.’ She nodded and sat up straighter. ‘Denver has tons of vampires.’
Tons of vampires? What a bizarre visual . . .
‘Really? Midnight, I want you to know that anything we talk about in here is completely confidential. You can feel free to tell me anything you want and it will go no further. I’d definitely like to hear about all these vampires.’ I jotted a note on my pad.
Vampires. Well, that’s certainly a change of pace from aliens and demon possessions.
She arched an eyebrow. ‘How do I know you won’t tell my parents?’
Good. Let’s get right to the trust issue.
‘Unless you’re going to hurt yourself or someone else, I will never tell anyone anything that we discuss,’ I explained, giving her my ethically required disclaimer.
She paused a moment, watching me, twisting her hands. ‘Well, I don’t know. I wouldn’t want to get them in trouble. They need to hide from the humans.’ She licked her lips.
Damn. She doesn’t consider herself one of the humans? Is she brainwashed? How confused is she? Her anxiety level just shot up. Shaking hands, dry lips.
‘Ah, I see. Let’s leave the vampires for later, then. Tell me about you. Are you in school?’
Her mother had left a message on my voicemail saying she and her husband were concerned because their daughter graduated from high school last year and had no future plans. She’d had a 4.0 grade point average, then turned down a scholarship to college and was making reckless choices. Her mother said she thought a boy was involved.
‘No. I used to like school but I’m not into that kind of education any more.’
Hmm. What kind of education is she into?
‘What did you like about school? Any favourite classes?’
A spark of interest flashed across her features before she wrestled her face back under control and reset her bored expression. She stretched her fingers then slid her hands along her thighs, probably to dry the moisture on her palms. ‘I studied art. Painting, drawing. I also write a little poetry.’
‘You’re an artist and a poet?’ I smiled. ‘That’s wonderful. What great talents to have.’
‘It doesn’t matter any more.’ She lifted a shoulder and shifted her gaze to the clock and then back to my face.
Oh, yes. Practised apathy. Feigned nonchalance. Fear.
‘Why is that?’
She tapped a blood-red fingernail on her leg. ‘It’s a waste of my time to sit in closed-up rooms, listening to boring people talk about boring subjects. I have bigger plans.’
I wonder if she’s given any thought to how closed-up a coffin is?
‘What bigger plans?’
‘I already told you,’ she said with an impatient tone.
‘Oh, yes, becoming a vampire. . What’s so great about that?
Jo Fletcher Books will be officially launching the stunning new hardcover collection, CURIOUS WARNINGS: THE GREAT GHOST STORIES OF M.R. JAMES, with a signing by editor STEPHEN JONES and artist LES EDWARDS on Saturday June 16th at the British Fantasy Society Open Day, The Mug House, 1 Tooley Street, London E1 2PF, from 1:00 pm until late.
Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the birth of M.R. James, the sumptuously-crafted CURIOUS WARNINGS: THE GREAT GHOST STORIES OF M.R. JAMES contains all the author’s classic supernatural stories collected in a single volume, including the children’s novel THE FIVE JARS, along with uncompleted works, essays, and a historical Afterword by Stephen Jones, all copiously illustrated by award-winning artist Les Edwards.
MONTAGUE RHODES JAMES (1862-1936) was Provost of King’s College, Cambridge, and Eton. Most of his ghost stories were occasional pieces, written for friends or college magazines, and were collected in GHOST-STORIES OF AN ANTIQUARY (1904), MORE GHOST STORIES OF AN ANTIQUARY (1911), A THIN GHOST AND OTHERS (1919), and A WARNING TO THE CURIOUS AND OTHER GHOST STORIES (1925). Widely regarded as one of the finest authors of supernatural fiction in the English language, James is credited as the originator of the ‘antiquarian ghost story’, replacing the Gothic horrors of the previous century with more contemporary settings for his subtle hauntings. Many of his stories were originally written as Christmas entertainments and were read aloud by the author to selected gatherings of friends.
CURIOUS WARNINGS: THE GREAT GHOST STORIES OF M.R. JAMES is the one collection of the author’s work that fans cannot afford to miss! And Stephen Jones and Les Edwards will be on hand to personally sign copies on the day (time to be announced).
There will also be other signings throughout the BFS Open Day, and numerous authors, artists, editors and publishers will be in attendance. Entrance is FREE and open to anyone, so if you like fantasy, horror and imaginative fiction, then come along for a fun day out!
For more details about the BFS OPEN DAY, go to: http://bit.ly/JeO2Yi
For more information about CURIOUS WARNINGS: THE GREAT GHOST STORIES OF M.R. JAMES, contact: email@example.com
I’m honoured to announce that the awesome British Fantasy Society has just announced its shortlists for this year’s awards and I’m delighted to say that a whole host of stories from A Book of Horrors as well as the anthology itself are up for prizes in 3 categories!
Our Nominations and their respective categories are:
• Ghosts with Teeth; Peter Crowther (A Book of Horrors, Jo Fletcher Books)
• Near Zennor; Elizabeth Hand (A Book of Horrors, Jo Fletcher Books)
• The Music of Bengt Karlsson, Murderer; John Ajvide Lindqvist (A Book of Horrors, Jo Fletcher Books)
• Sad, Dark Thing; Michael Marshall Smith (A Book of Horrors)
• Alice through the plastic sheet; Robert Shearman (A Book of Horrors)
• The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter; Angela Slatter (A Book of Horrors)
• A Book of Horrors; editor Stephen Jones (Jo Fletcher Books)
You can check out the shortlist in full over on the society’s official website.
Regular readers will know that my intrepid assistant Nicola is currently trekking across the Himalayas to raise money for children’s hospices, as you do.
She’s been preparing for this for almost a year – in fact, the first thing she said when my colleague Charlotte and I told her she had the job was: ‘Fabulous. Can I have time off in March to walk across Nepal?’ Luckily, Charlotte and I are generous employers and we agreed she could spend all her lunch breaks and holidays doing this.
But I digress. The point of this is to explain that I am flying solo again, and even though I know this is temporary – she’s only gone for a fortnight! – I have been quietly going to pieces, looking at the mountains of forms, and requests for meetings and briefings, and wondering how on earth I managed without her.
So my beloved husband (and ace literary agent) Ian Drury decided to take my mind off how much I have to do and how little time by making us behave like Real People: he announced that we were going out for the evening – and not to a glamorous publishing party or a packed launch event, which would count as work, but to an actual paid-for event, and paid for with our own hard-earned cash at that.
What’s more, we had to brave the wilds of west London, for a close personal friend had been loudly recommending the Theatre Lab Company’s truly excellent performance of Oresteia at the Hammersmith Riverside Studios.
For those of you who are not intimately familiar with the works of Aeshylus, this is a trilogy of plays written (I am assured) for a festival of Dionysus in Athens in 458BC (so yes, more than 2,500 years ago).
Luckily for me – I freely admit my classical Greek isn’t as fluent as it might be! – TLC had elected to use Ted Hughes’ lyrical and gripping translation, augmented by music and sound effects by Daemonia Nymphe on ancient Greek instruments seldom heard these days. (Okay, that’s enough background. Ed.)
The first, The Agamemnon, is the story of the great king’s murder by his wife Clytemnestra when he returns home, victorious, from the siege of Troy. Clytemnestra is (understandably, I think), miffed that Agamemnon couldn’t win by himself but felt it necessary to appease the gods (Artemis in particular) by sacrificing their virgin daughter, Iphigenia, in exchange for fair winds.
The second play (this is the name I can never remember) is The Cheophoroi, featuring Orestes, Agamemnon and Clytemnestra’s son, all growed up and come home to take revenge for the death of his father, egged on by his sister Electra. They do at least admit that Daddy offed their sister, but don’t think that his actions deserved the sort of eye-for-eye revenge Clytemnestra and her lover doled out. (Oh. Didn’t I mention the lover? I have to admit that lessens her case a little. But just a little: virgin sacrifice, guys!)
As soon as Orestes does the deed (taking out the lover as well) he exits, stage right, haunted by the Furies (no, there’s nothing furry about them at all: these are howling females, and they are there to avenge the deaths of mothers . . .).
The final part, The Eumenides, is the trial: and this is the point of the classics lesson: Orestes rocks up in Athens, where he is put on trial for the murder of his mother. The Furies prosecute; he is defended by Apollo, and Athena decides his innocence with her casting vote: but what we’re really watching is the invention of trial by jury.
So my endless service at Snaresbrook Crown Court just a couple of weeks ago is as a direct result of the gods getting involved when an angry son disses his mother . . .
It’s amazing the things you learn . . .
So what’ve I been reading recently? Oh, masses, and masses, and masses . . . in fact, despite having got through a couple of dozen or more manuscripts in the last few days I’ve hardly made a dent in the great Jo Fletcher Books Submissions Pile.
But it’s not all bad, for I have found a few new gems on which to spend Quercus’ dosh, and what could be better?
First off, I’m really thrilled to have lured Ian McDonald to JFB with his first YA adventure, Planesrunner, the start of a tremendously exciting new series. It’s always hard, when you’re presenting possible acquisitions to your esteemed colleagues, not to start gushing (and the truth is, that’s generally what we all end up doing – after all, if you love a book enough to jump through all the hoops needed to buy it for your list, then of course you’re going to be a little on the over-enthusiastic side).
But in this case, Mr McDonald really does deserve all those plaudits. I first published him way back when, in my early days at Gollancz, and I will never forget waiting breathlessly for the next chapters of Chaga, and how awed I was by the sheer depth of imagination allied to such a wonderful writing style. (And I’m sure both of us remember Ian holding the phone out so I could hear his printer, allegedly printing out the next chunk . . . ah, happy days!)
So of course I leapt at the opportunity to take on his Everness series, which is wildly exuberant, thrillingly imaginative and quite unputdownable. (Sorry. Gushing again. And repetitive. And breathe . . .) The first book, Planesrunner, is a smashing adventure story about Everett Singh, who discovers an app on his iPad after his scientist dad is kidnapped in front of him: an app that leads him to the Infundibulum, a map to all the other Earths in the Multiverse. Everett’s determined to rescue his dad and keep the Infundibulum from the bad guys, and to do that he’s got to become a Planesrunner, travelling between those alternate versions of the Earth. We’re going to have enormous fun publishing this, and best of all, you only have to wait six months or so to read it!
And from an old favourite to a great new find: renowned poet and playwright Naomi Foyle’s debut novel Seoul Survivors is a dark, passionate, flamboyant cyber-thriller set – well, tomorrow, really, or the next day, with the world on the brink of catastrophic climate breakdown. Naomi’s got some fascinating characters here: Sydney, the beautiful, ditzy Canadian model looking to reinvent herself and bury her awful past; her ‘boyfriend’, Johnny Sandman, who’s brought her to Korea, but who has a whole other secret agenda; the disaffected Brit Damien, who is seeking sanctuary from the world itself, and the glamorous Korean-American scientist Dr Kim Da Mi, who has her own plans to see the world through the coming apocalypse. And of course there’s Seoul City itself, a vibrant, throbbing, exotic metropolis where nothing is quite what it appears. It’s a great start to Naomi’s new life in the genre.
I’m delighted to welcome Naomi and Ian to the JFB stable; just watch this space for more news of brilliant acquisitions!
Argh, I hear you cry! Not more vacuous nonsense from that Editorial Assistant at Jo Fletcher Books! But ooooh yes, I’m back, unfortunately for you, and I truly won’t blame you if all you see is white noise from here on in, really I won’t. But honestly, you might want to read on a bit, because I’m about to tell you about a book we’ve got coming out in July next year, and it’s something that I’ve very much enjoyed reading and therefore feel, you should all know about.
You may have read about our other fantastic authors that we’ve got out next year, what you may not have read is that we’ve recently acquired a title by Lisa Tuttle, called The Silver Bough. As Jo Fletcher puts it: ‘Despite rave reviews from the likes of Neil Gaiman and Publisher’s Weekly, Lisa Tuttle has not been published in the UK for many years. It’s time to correct that oversight’. So here we are, correcting said oversight, and I’m very glad we are, because I haven’t enjoyed a book quite so much in a while.
This book is set in Appleton, a small town on the coast of Scotland. No one knows where it came from. It doesn’t feature on the ancient maps in the little library and although the prevailing argument is that it was originally a floating island, forced onto the mainland by a cataclysmic event, a far more sinister explanation soon becomes apparent.
Appleton was once famous for its – you guessed it – apples, but this is no ordinary apple, it is aptly named ‘The Fairest’ and is said to be one of the most delicious apples ever grown. There was even an incredibly rare version, a golden apple, said to promise eternal happiness to the young couple who eat from it, secure in their love – or a curse, for those who take its gift for granted. But the secret of ‘The Fairest’ has been lost, the town is falling into decline, the old rituals have been forgotten . . . and the town is disappearing, bit by bit into the mists. A price must be paid you see, for a pact has been broken.
But when three women are drawn to the little town, each seeking something lost, their destinies will become entwined and hope is restored, hope in the single tree one of them grows in a walled orchard. A gnarled tree, far from perfect, that produces one, brilliant golden apple. The question is, will three strangers to the town be able to realise its significance in time? Because in the mist, something is stirring . . .
Have I whet your appetite? I hope so, and for the really curious out there, i.e. those that are wondering what on earth the title of this post has to do with this book, you might want to consider the legend of the Silver Bough. In celtic tradition, one tree branch covered with silver blossom was the price, before death, of entrance to Elysium . . .
by Nicola Budd
Read on for a fantastic review of the Emperor’s Knife by Marc Aplin over at www.fantasy-faction.com
Never judge a book by it’s cover… that’s the rule, right? Kinda broke it on this occasion. Yes, I know, I am a respected(?) reviewer of Fantasy literature and shouldn’t let such things draw me any longer… but damned, this is a beautiful, beautiful book. Yes, there is that now very, very common hooded man on the cover, but also, there is a beautiful city in the distance and these two are washed over with a kind of midnight blue. Most impressively, there are some beautiful, almost tribal type patterns that are embossed on-top of the hardback novel in a kind of vinyl (you will find out the relevance to these a little bit later in the review).
The Emperor’s Knife is a wonderfully difficult book to describe… It is by no means your typical fantasy novel. Amongst the Cerani Empire there is a disease that is spreading throughout the inhabitants. It seems that anyone can be infected at any-time and there is no known way to prevent it from taking hold of you.
The only thing that keeps the Kingdom calm and under control is the powerful ruler, Emperor Beyon. However, when Beyon himself is revealed to have the prominent patterns covering almost the entirety of his body, it comes down to a number of the highest ranked people in court to keep the fact the Emperor is soon to die – or perhaps even worse, fall under the power of the Pattern Master – a secret. Without an heir, Beyon’s followers each have their own ideas as to who should rule once he falls. His mother believes that the lost prince: ‘Sarmin’, who has been locked away in a tower, should be given the role. Others tell her they agree, but once her back is turned, can they really be trusted not to seize power for themselves?
A number of plans are set in motion and the beauty of the book is that we never quite know who is being honest. We meet a number of characters that are all pawns in this game, including: Medema, a type of seer who has been put forward to become queen, should Sarmin be allowed onto the throne. Her abilities have given her clues to the Pattern Master’s location, but can she grasp their meaning in time? We also meet Eyul, who is “The Emperor’s Knife”, an assassin, who goes on a journey to find a cure for Beyon, a journey that will reveal even deeper plots and darker powers looking to take control of Cerani.
It is certainly a fantasy novel to get excited about, there is a good amount here that won’t feel familiar and the plot will keep you guessing until the very end. For me, the characters are the most enjoyable aspect of the novel. ‘Sarmin’, the Emperor’s brother that has been locked away is a fantastically dark, manic and volatile personality that we never quite work out. He grows extensively throughout the novel, even trapped within his dark, isolated room and this never interest in him and interaction in him changes him dramatically. These changes are very, very nicely done and I think readers will have a pleasant struggle trying to decide whether to route for ‘Sarmin’ or one of the other characters. This is due to the authors purposeful ambiguity in regards to who is good and who is evil. Perhaps that is what is the biggest draw of this novel, because other than ‘A Game of Thrones’ there aren’t many novels in our genre that keep you guessing as to the characters real intentions.
With ‘The Emperor’s Knife’, Mazarkis Williams has added his name to the very, very strong debutees we have had in 2011 (Douglas Hulick, Mark Lawrence and Elspeth Cooper leading the way for example). I think though, comparing this novel to anything else is very, very difficult and this is perhaps what makes ‘The Emperor’s Knife’ a must read – its fresh, its exciting and the ’Tower and Knife Trilogy’ looks set to get even better!
To read the entire review head on over to fantasy-faction.com for some of the best reviews, opinions and ideas on fantasy today
The stunning fantasy resource Fantasy Faction has put together a list of titles which the top Fantasy, Horror and Science Fiction publishers are most looking forward to in 2012. It’s a truly exciting list, including five, of course, from our own upcoming titles:
Being asked to pick just five titles in a year that is stuffed full of brand new talent is like being asked to pick three of your five siblings to go on an all-expenses-paid trip to the moon: it’s a no-win situation. So the only possible way I can do this is to focus on brand-new authors and ask enormous forgiveness for the handful who were first published last year.
Without that I would have had to beg for Fletcher’s Five to become Fletcher’s Thirteen, which might have more of a creepy ring to it, but doesn’t entirely fulfil the brief. So on the understanding that just because you’re not listed here doesn’t I don’t think every book on the Jo Fletcher Books list is just as wonderful, here are Fletcher’s Five for 2012:
IRENICON BY AIDAN HARTE – APRIL
A fabulous alternate history: Pavane meets The Sopranos, with a hefty dose of Rimbaldi artefacts from Alias, Irenicon has all the fun of Renaissance Italy, but with a sinister dark dimension.
A COLD SEASON BY ALISON LITTLEWOOD – JANUARY
Fabulous novel from debut author Alison Littlewood. A cross between Rosemary’s Baby and Dennis Wheatley, A Cold Season contains brilliant characterisation and chilling thrills.
THE CITY’S SON BY TOM POLLOCK – JUNE
The first in The Skyscraper Throne trilogy, this is the story of a hidden London that is perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman and China Mieville. Dedicated and feisty this novel will appeal to everyone from YA and beyond.
MAGE’S BLOOD BY DAVID HAIR – JULY
This is the first in The Moontide Quartet and as David Hair’s YA fiction has already won him a devoted following in Australia, he is about to woo the world with this story of a world on the brink of cataclysm.
BLOOD’S PRIDE BY EVIE MANIERI – SEPTEMBER
This is an exciting new quest fantasy containing rich world-building, strong characterisation and a robust story that twists and turns to a tragic but satisfying conclusion.
So go ahead and read the full article and discover what other amazing titles there are to look forward to in 2012!
But we’d really like to know which upcoming titles you are most looking forward to. Post them in the comments and let us know! (Has to be A Cold Season for me, looks really exciting)
Alison Littlewood’s novel begins with a mother and child travelling through a dense fog on route to their new home. Cass and Ben are moving to start a new life after the loss of their husband and father, Pete. Their destination is the small village of Darnshaw in which Cass spent time as a child. But the idyllic Darnshaw from her youth now bears some sinister marks and she begins to discover that her memories may not be as innocent as she recalls.
The pair’s new home is a flat in a renovated old mill. Cass had visions of a cosy but bustling modern residence in the heart of the picturesque village. When they arrive the other flats are empty and the lack of occupants turns the atmosphere from cosy to cold. This upset is only the beginning of a series of unsettling situations that will test the mother and son’s relationship to breaking point.
Eventually Cass finds a support network, the rambunctious Sally with her wicked child Damon and Cass’s new flame Mr Remick. These new friends appear just in time as peculiar events start to rock Cass’s sanity. Blue rocks haunt her dreams, curious dolls appear beneath her floors and crosses are etched into doorways.
As Cass battles to make sense of her new life and why her child now carries disdain behind his eyes, she is left venerable to a formidable evil that is clawing into her soul. Her only hope could lie in a figure that she shunned from her life. When the estranged parent makes contact, the protection that Cass rejected as an adolescent may be the weapon she needs to arm herself against the rising horror.
Littlewood gives particular attention to recounting her characters senses, which become so vivid that it heightens your own. Touch especially comes to life, skin tingles with cold, palms itch with irritation and the heart jerks at each frightening episode of this dark horror fiction.
Cass is thrust into a twisted world, alone and struggling, she falls deeper. She becomes tempted, tempted by lust, tempted by the desire to belong or to give up her responsibilities, to give up entirely. Only her love for her child has the potential to push her into a fight for their lives and each pulse-quickening episode reveals how far this mother will go to save her son.
Post by Ellen Trevan
A Cold Season by Alison Littlewood is due for release on January 5th 2012.
A few months ago, in the course of a very pleasant lunch with an old chum, I was asked, just in passing, just by the way, if I’d thought about starting up a new list. I wasn’t sure it was actually an offer, but it wasn’t the first approach I’d had in recent years, and I started to give my usual stock response: I’d already done that a couple of times, back when Headline started, and again with Mandarin; things were going quite well where I was, and not just thanks to the overnight success of an author who’d been toiling away for 23 years before hitting the Number One spot; I wasn’t sure I had the requisite energy…
And then Mark Smith – for yes, Beloved Reader, it was he: the Mighty CEO of Publisher of the Year Quercus Publishing – said, ‘Well, what if it had your name on it?’
And I laughed, and said, ‘Of course, that would be different!’
And Mark said, ‘Of course, that’s what I’m offering.’
Bit of a waste of a really nice steak, frankly, because I didn’t manage much more of the meal. If you’ve met Mark, you’ll know that he’s pretty much the epitome of boundless enthusiasm, and by the time he’d finished expositing his Master Plan, I was pretty much sold (‘A list with my name on it?’) – and I don’t quite know why I didn’t stop bouncing for long enough to sign on the dotted line then and there…
But I had been at Gollancz for a long time – it turned out to be 16 years when I started counting – and I had as fine a stable of authors as any publisher could hope for, and we had Big Plans for the future. But it was Victor Gollancz’s name on that list, not mine.
And once I’d done the whole agonising-over-saying-goodbye, and could I cope with what was effectively going to be a divorce, and where was I going to find enough new authors for a list, I realised that there was never really going to be any other answer…
And so, less than a year later, here we are, and I would like to welcome you with open arms to (tada! Drumrrrrroll, please!): JO FLETCHER BOOKS
Stick with me. We’re going to have a lot of fun together!
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