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!