October News Round-Up…

Posting to the agency web site has been sporadic of late, entirely down to time constraints. Aside from the aftermath of Worldcon, there has been the Frankfurt Book Fair, the processing of the bi-annual royalties (a tough job, but the one of the reasons we’re here, I guess!) prep for this year’s World Fantasy Convention (in Columbus, OH) and a subsequent week of meetings in NYC and the fact that we’ve been to a number of rather nice parties! That said, here’s a little news…

  • Angry Robot have revealed this gorgeous David Frankland cover for Lavie Tidhar’s forthcoming novel, CAMERA OBSCURA, the follow-up to his Steampunk romp, THE BOOKMAN, due for release next May, and about which they say ‘ In this one we meet Milady de Winter, investigating some murders in, of all places, the Rue Morgue. (Why yes, that does sound strangely familiar…) As she dives deeper into Parisian society, it seems everyone knows who did it except her… and the real question is not who, but why? Her search for answers will take her to the far side of the world, and beyond.’
  • And THE BOOKMAN has just sold to Rani Graff at Graff Publishing in Israel.
  • Lavie’s CLOUD PERMUTATIONS, published by PS Publishing has been receiving some nice coverage and we’ve just done a deal with Peter Crowther at PS for a new Tidhar collection – more news on this anon.
  • And whilst we’re patting him on the back, congrats to Lavie for being winning the Last Drink Bird Head award for International Activism… follow that link to find out more.

And we’ve a couple of other Angry Robot covers to show off here – on the left is Colin Harvey‘s DAMAGE TIME, a seat of the pants, SF thriller from the author of WINTER’S SONG. This new one by Colin has just been released by AR and in a recent Guardian review was described thus by Eric Brown ‘The strength of the novel lies not only in the depiction of a detailed future of hardship and privation, but in the expert characterisation of [protagonist] Shah: a lone figure whose origins leave him open to prejudice within the police department, and whose problematic relationship with an intersexual courtesan reveals his own deep-seated prejudices.

And to the right, we’ve the cover for POINT by Thomas Blackthorn (a.k.a John Meaney), not due out until Feb 2011 and which looks rather splendid when placed next to EDGE, the first Blackthorn novel. Swapping identities and publishers for a moment, John reports he has just completed the second Ragnarok novel for Simon Spanton at Gollancz… more on that in due course.

Aliette De Bodard Deal News…

We delighted to announce the sale of French translation rights Aliette De Bodard’s Obsidian and Blood series to Mathieu Saintout at Bibliotheque Interdite in a deal done in association with our brilliant French agent Lora Fountain. We are very chuffed indeed for Aliette knowing that she’s to be published on her own turf! Not sure yet when they intend to publish but we’ll note it on here as soon as we know.

Meantime, here’s the fantastic cover for the forthcoming Angry Robot release of Book two in this series HARBINGER OF THE STORM, due early next year. Here too is the cover blurb…

The year is Two House and the Mexica Empire teeters on the brink of destruction, lying vulnerable to the flesh-eating star-demons – and to the return of their creator, a malevolent goddess only held in check by the Protector God’s power.

The council is convening to choose a new emperor, but when a councilman is found dead, only Acatl, High Priest of the Dead, can solve the mystery.

When he hears rumours of a sinister cabal of sorcerors he must face up to demons, not all of them his own.

And whilst I’m on, it’s worth noting the excellent reviews Aliette received from both Gardner Dozois and Rich Horton in the most recent edition of LOCUS for her story THE JAGUAR HOUSE, IN SHADOW which appeared in the July issue of Asimov’s.

The year is Two House and the Mexica Empire teeters on the brink of destruction, lying vulnerable to the flesh-eating star-demons – and to the return of their creator, a malevolent goddess only held in check by the Protector God’s power.

The council is convening to choose a new emperor, but when a councilman is found dead, only Acatl, High Priest of the Dead, can solve the mystery.

When he hears rumours of a sinister cabal of sorcerors he must face up to demons, not all of them his own.

World Horror and Wot I Did Learn at ‘PITCH BLACK’…

The dust is settling after what was a really quite wonderful World Horror Convention. The event was well attended (memberships were sold out weeks before) and more pointedly, it was well very attended by publishers and editors.

As well as the stalwart, energetic smaller presses, for example PS Publishing, Newcon Press, Telos, Nightjar Press, Pendragon, Atomic Fez and Ash-Tree Press amongst others who have, collectively, for many years been the only folks willing to push the horror genre, there were representatives from larger trade publishers such as Little, Brown (both Orbit and Piatkus had editorial staff present), Headline, Gollancz, Constable & Robinson, Solaris/Rebellion, Titan, Angry Robot, Quercus, and Bragelonne.

This turnout shows there’s a very real and very active interest from the trade in the horror and dark fiction fields and this is a most encouraging and tangible sign of horror’s resurgence as a going commercial concern. If this interest can translate into sales, there’s the best chance there’s been in a generation for new talent to come through.

There’s a flipside to this however that became apparent to me as I took part in the Pitch Black event on the Thursday afternoon. Set up as an opportunity for both the trading of rights and the chance for authors to pitch their work directly to agents and publishers, I likened the experience (on my side of the table at least) to being repeatedly hit in the face for five hours with a shit-covered shovel.

There is a reason for this admittedly harsh description (and it doesn’t apply to everyone I met by any means) and it comes down to simple basics. No matter how much agents and editors bang on (on panels at conventions, in interviews, in conversation or on their blogs) about the importance of doing so, many of the writers who material submit to us completely fail to consider their work within the context of the market.

Repeatedly throughout Pitch Black I asked ‘Who is the market for this novel? Who is the ideal reader? Whose readers are you looking to steal with this novel?‘ and repeatedly (and in one particular and spectacularly rude case where the person appeared incapable of grasping why the question was a fundamental one) these enquiries were met with blank looks and the scratching of heads.

Writing is by definition a solitary art – but you are not writing for yourself. Not ever. If you are then you will have a readership of one. And good luck with that.

Writing something publishable is a different kettle of fish. If you want a publisher to give you money for your work, you better be clued in to the kind of thing they publish. If your book is something entirely original, something that completely re-invents the wheel, something so new that it breaks the mould, then as an agent I can do absolutely nothing with it. If there is no market precedent then the likelihood that I can get a publisher to take a risk on your masterpiece – a masterpiece written by a complete unknown – is zero. Zilch. Nada.

Does this mean I’m looking for derivative, cloned material? Poor man’s copies of the best-sellers? Nope.

Think Dragons’ Den. Money paid to you by a publisher is an investment in your product and they expect to receive a return. It therefore needs to be something that people actually want. So, do your market research – otherwise everyone you approach will wisely say ‘I’m out’!

(Note the links I’ve provided above to the various publisher websites. That’s where your research begins – go check out what they’re up to!)

Tales From the Forbidden Planet…

Here’s a quick snap of John (Thomas Blackthorne) Meaney and Aliette De Bodard at the Forbidden Planet signing last Friday evening (12th Feb). Having signed lord knows how many copies, John is texting his physiotherapist to book a treatment for stressed autographing ligaments, whilst Aliette is in the midst of a video interview with Nick Butler (aka blogger extraordinaire, Loudmouthman).

Signed copies!! Grab them while you can. (And you can, whilst stocks last, by following this link for EDGE and this one for SERVANT OF THE UNDERWORLD).

More Great Reviews…

… for our Angry Robot authors!

Thomas Blackthorne‘s EDGE gets five stars over at the Science Fiction and Fantasy blog, which the reviewers calling the book ‘…an intelligent, slick and brilliantly executed novel with a quite unexpected but superbly scripted ending.’ Full review here.

THE BOOKMAN has received yet another glowing review, this time on the Only The Best SciFi/Fantasy blog. ‘[THE BOOKMAN is] a boisterous mix of steampunk, Victorianna, mystery, travel story, thriller, adventure, partly coming of age story…Lavie Tidhar knows how to keep you in suspense… a shining steampunk bijou, brims over with allusions and cameos, vibrant, gorgeous depicted, clever constructed, compelling …  steampunk in 3D! Highly recommended from the bottom of my heart.’ Full review here.

And finally the Lateral Books blog loudly hails Aliette De Bodard‘s SERVANT OF THE UNDERWORLD as ‘…a book I was very excited by… It is a book which is like a fresh breeze of crisp air….I fully expect Ms De Bodard’s name to be huge‘. Full review here.

The Guardian on Tidhar and Blackthorne…

Terrific crits from Eric Brown, writing in last Saturday’s Guardian see this link – for two of our Angry Robot authors.

On Lavie Tidhar‘s THE BOOKMAN, Brown writes THE BOOKMAN is a delight, crammed with gorgeous period detail, seat-of-the-pants adventure and fabulous set-pieces. And there’s more to come from this Israeli writer…‘ Indeed there is! For Lavie has just delivered the sequel CAMERA OBSCURA to his rather chuffed editor Marc Gascoigne.

Of Thomas Blackthorn‘s EDGE, Brown says ‘…What lifts the novel far above the norm is that Blackthorne is such a fine writer. [Protagonist] Cumberland leaps off the page, a trained killer whose anger and grief at his daughter’s condition is brilliantly portrayed; the depiction of his simmering rage, barely held in check, and how he channels it, provides a masterclass in characterisation.’

That link again, for the full reviews is right here!

Who Let The Clients Out?

  • Zeno clients Aliette De Bodard and John Meaney (also known as Thomas Blackthorn) will be signing, respectively, SERVANTS OF THE UNDERWORLD and EDGE – their novels published (soon to be published in the case of Mister Meaney / Blackthorn) by Angry Robot. You’ll be able to meet both authors on Friday February 12th at 6pm at the flagship Forbidden Planet megastore on Shaftesbury Avenue.
  • Prior to the above, John will be one of the participating authors at the SFX Weekender – a two day Sciffy fest taking place on the 5th and 6th of February at Camber Sands – see their web site (link above)  for details. Note that fellow Zeno client Justina Robson will also be in attendance.
  • Still with John Meaney, those of you hungrily awaiting the arrival of his brand new space opera ABSORPTION, will, alas, no have to wait a little while long, as publisher Gollancz has had to reschedule the release date – you’ll be able to get hold of it from May 20th.

Edge Cover Revealed

The bods over at Angry Robot have revealed their shiny new cover for EDGE, the forthcoming novel by Thomas Blackthorne, aka our very own John Meaney. And here also is their cover blurb…

Edge thumbYou thought Big Brother was tough? Try Knife Edge – the reality TV show where wannabe knife fighters are the celebrities in a nation going to hell.

Britain, tomorrow. The ultimate response to knife crime has been instituted by a bankrupt government: duelling with knives has now been legalised. On Saturday nights, the nation sit down to watch the country’s best fighters slash it out on prime time.

When a young boy with hoplophobia (the fear of weaponry) runs away from home, his father hires a former special forces agent to find him. With the help of the boy’s psychiatrist, Josh Cumberland delves into the dark underbelly of the knife culture that has infected his country with no guarantee that the boy is even still alive…

Look out for EDGE when it is published next month.

The Bookman – First Reviews

bookman coverReviews are starting to come in for Lavie Tidhar’s steampunk adventure, The Bookman, which will be published in a week or two by Angry Robot, and as expected they’re pretty much ‘raves’ across the board.

Fantasy Book Critic “…loved the style and the inventiveness…” and went on to say the it was… “Just big time fun, The Bookman is highly, highly recommended.”

The Mad Hatter’s Bookshelf and Book Review lists The Bookman as one of the top Steampunk titles to look out for in the coming year.

The Traveller’s Steampunk Blog states “…it has managed to claim the throne as my favorite steampunk novel from Moorcock’s A Nomad of the Time Streams I can wholeheartedly recommend The Bookmanit is one captivating read, set in a beautiful, strange world.”

And if these superlatives don’t persuade you to get hold of a copy, here’s what James P. Blaylock, one of the founding fathers of the entire Steampunk genre has to say.. “Lavie Tidhar’s The Bookman is simply the best book I’ve read in a long time, and I read a lot of books. If you’re worried that Steampunk has turned into a mere fashion aesthetic, then you’d better read this one. It’s a stunningly imaginative remix of history, technology, literature, and Victorian adventure that’s impossible to put down. The book is immensely smart and readable at the same time. I very much hope that it’s the first of many such books. Buy it.

Servant of the Underworld Book Trailer

And hot on the heels of the cover art (see below), here’s an amazing trailer that Aliette has put together for her forthcoming novel Servant of the Underworld. Is there no end to this woman’s talents?

And the My Favorite Books blog is running an exlusive excerpt from Servant of the Underworld – check it out if you want to wet your appetite for this superb historical fantasy thriller, which will be published January 7th by Angry Robot.

Lavie Tidhar News

  • 316_largeLavie’s been in touch to let us know that he’s revamped and updated his web sote – it’s now a rather smart WordPress affair, not dissimilar to this one!

  • Lavie is nominated for one of Ann and Jeff Vandermeer’s Last Drink Bird Head Awards! He is up for the International Activism prize, given ‘In recognition of those who work to bring writers from other literary traditions and countries to the attention of readers in North America, the United Kingdom, and Australia…’ The winners will be announced at the World Fantasy Convention in San José and the lucky recipient will receive a bird head figurine, a certificate, and chocolate. Fingers crossed (Lavie LOVES chocolate!)
  • And finally, we’re delighted to announce the sale of Lavie’s novella MARTIAN SANDS, to Jason Sizemore at Apex Publications, a long time supporter and advocate of Lavie’s work. The novella will appear some time next year or in early 2011.

More Angry Robot Sales…

Following our recent announcement regarding début novel deals for Aliette de Bodard and Lavie Tidhar, we’re delighted to announce two more to Angry Robot, the exciting new genre imprint at Harpercollins.

Blackthorn headshotFirst up is a two book deal for John Meaney, who of course is already widely known as a Science Fiction author of immense talent (Robert J. Sawyer says that he’s ‘One of the most original voices, and most insightful thinkers, the genre has ever produced‘) and ABSORPTION,  the first novel in his new Space Opera sequence is due out from Gollancz next February.  Writing under the name Thomas Blackthorn – John will have two near future thrillers, EDGE and POINT published by Angry Robot, the first next February and the second in August 2010. Here’s what Angry Robot publishing Director Marc Gascoigne says of these…

‘[In EDGE] …we find ourselves in a decaying UK. The government’s response to decades of uncontrollable knife crime has been to legalise duelling, turning fighting with blades into a legitimate activity. The pinnacle of this new “sport” is the primetime TV show Knife Edge, in which have-a-go members of the public can compete against trained knifemen for ever greater rewards. So you know just what our ex-soldier hero Josh Cumberland will have to do to get to the bottom of his hunt for a missing child…

Its equally extraordinary sequel, POINT, takes us deep into the razor-wielding world of the Cutter Circles. But even in these Last Days, who the hell would want to deliberately cause the UK’s teenagers to self-harm and commit suicide? It’s up to Josh Cumberland to find out.’

Hughes headshotWe also delighted to have negotiate a three-book deal on behalf of Matt Hughes, a writer whom I’ve admired since my reviewing days. Matt’s recent releases in the US – the Henghis Hapthorn books published by Nightshade are a massively enjoyable mix of P.G. Wodehouse, Sherlock Holmes and Jack Vance’s Dying Earth, and I am hoping to find a home for them in the UK before too long, especially in the wake of the current Jack Vance renaissance. Matt has however, changed hats somewhat with these new books for Angry Robot which as yet are untitled. Here’s Marc Gascoigne again…

‘[Matt]… brings us a trio of novels featuring mild-mannered actuary Chesney Anstruther. After he accidentally summons a demon (as you do), the canny Anstruther refuses to go ahead with any soul-selling, which leads through various confusions to, well, Hell going on strike. Which means that nothing bad ever happens in the world… with disastrous consequences. When Satan offers him his heart’s desire to sort the whole mess out, our hero seizes his chance, and becomes a caped crimefighter, with a very unwilling demon for a sidekick.

Volume one of Anstruther’s outrageous shenanigans will be with you in August 2010, with at least two more to follow at six-month intervals. The titles themselves… well, we’re going to keep you in suspense a little longer on those. Bring it on!

Bring it on indeed! Congratulation to both John (or Thomas, if you prefer) and Matt and of course to Angry Robot. More on these releases in due course.

Lavie Tidhar… “Heaven is a Supermarket”

And following on from the entry below, our other Angry Roboteer Lavie Tidhar has also been interviewed by Charles Tan over at his Bibliophile Stalker Blog. In this article, Lavie discusses his soon to be published project with Apex Books, anthology The Apex Book of World SF and his recently published  novella (written with Nir Yaniv) The Tel Aviv Dossier. He also offers up some insight into his humdrum life out there in Laos!

What’s a day in the life of Lavie Tidhar like?

I’m practising the old Indian Bead Trick at the moment – you might know it better as the Needle Swallowing Trick that Houdini made popular. It’s when you swallow needles and thread and then bring them back out with the needles all threaded together. Wonderful illusion. I’m too chicken to put needles in my mouth though, so I’ve been using safety pins! Ha! Definitely not as glamorous.

Which is to say, very dull, really. I get excited if I go across the border to Thailand because they actually have supermarkets there! I think heaven is a supermarket, all clean and shiny and bright. And they have a Mister Donut!

I’m easily pleased.

Aliette de Bodard Interviewed…

Charles Tan’s excellent Bibliophile Stalker Blog has just put up a brand new interview with Aliette de Bodard conducted by Marshall Payne. In it Aliette talks about her background and, of course, her writing, and she also  discusses the odd but fortuitous circumstances which brought about her first book deal…

You just signed a three-book deal with Angry Robot. What can you tell us about that?

Well, this was totally a case of serendipity. Last year, I was rather miffed when British Airways cancelled my flight home from World Fantasy, leaving me stuck in a shabby hotel with not much in the way of distraction. By sheer luck, there were also two people in the hotel: John Berlyne, who was setting up a new agency in the UK, and Marc Gascoigne, editor of the new HarperCollins Angry Robot. Together, they cajoled me into pitching the novel I had completed at the time (and which I’d had no intention of pitching at all, making for a rather flustered few seconds while I got my sentences under control).

And, as it turned out, the first became my agent, and negotiated a three-book deal with the second, for the novel in question and two sequels. It all feels very surreal, but there you have it.

The novel is called Servant of the Underworld, and is a fantasy-mystery set in Aztec times, featuring death-priest-cum-investigator Acatl (and ghostly jaguars, bloodthirsty gods and fingernail-eating monsters). It’s a wild, fast-paced ride through a blood-soaked land where the old gods are manifest, and quick to demand their due in all kinds of unpleasant ways. It’s due in print Spring 2010.