Wednesday, 18 March 2015

We've moved

*shakes head* You know if you'd followed us on twitter like your Mum told you to we wouldn't be having to have this conversation. The thing is this blog is no more. It has expired. It is deceased. 

The fact is we've got a new home, one with neighbours in the form of our sister imprints Solaris Books and Ravenstone Press. So please adjust your bookmarks and come party with us at our new place:

(TL;DR - we've got a new website ^^ and this blog will no longer be updated)

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

My Year In Review

Hey yo,

So I'm visiting my old home town in Adelaide (and yes, I will be visiting the old library while I'm here), and I've been sitting in old bars and cafes I used to frequent, and walking down old streets I've not trod for decades, and I'm feeling reflective.

But nice as it's been to think back on old years and reconnect a bit with my past, it's given me fresh pause to think about the here and now, and - of course - to think about the year, on this its last day. And since, dammit, this blog is my fucking soapbox, I'm going to do it right here.

I almost hesitate to call 2014 a year of change for me, because 2013 was so much more so; but if anything, change keeps happening for me. I'm not the person I was twelve months ago, and my life, while cosmetically similar, isn't the same life. Let's call it 'continuous change' and just say I'm living in interesting times.

There have been loads of highs, especially for me (and, of course, Abaddon), and a few lows, largely for the world in general. There's been a lot to rejoice in, and a lot to learn from. So, since this is the internet, let's do this list-style:

My Job
I hit five years in the industry and with Rebellion late this year, and it's been a ride. More than anything, I'm grateful that part of my job is being able to say "yes" to writers. I've been running Abaddon for a little over a year as well, and this was the year that many of my babies - the commissions that were wholly my call, from conception to contract - hit the shelves. It's been incredible seeing Sarah's Uprising, and Adrian, Malcolm and Colin's Journal of the Plague Year, and Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets, among others, turn up in the flesh (as it were), and I'm proud of what we've done.

Pictured: The moment a little bit of wee came out.

To say nothing of the social whirlwind that is publishing, flying to World Fantasy Con and gettin' down at LonCon and FantasyCon and the like. It's always a blast spending time with the brilliant, bizarre people of the genre world.

Pictured: Work.

My Writers
Which brings me to the people who write for me. Between approaching people I already knew, giving the nod to submissions and simply trawling for talent at conventions, commissioning puts you in touch with an exraordinary mix of people. I've met, worked with and now Facebook-stalk some brilliant men and women this past twelve months, and my life is richer for them.

Pictured: An argument for better security at mental health institutions.

My Writing!
And of course, if you didn't already know it, I'm a writer myself, with a handful of short fiction credits to my name, and this was the year I was selected for my first Year's Best anthology, for my mummy-romance short, "Old Souls," from Jurassic's Book of the Dead (which you should totes read). The Year's Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2013, edited by Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene, is out now.

Pictured: The moment a bit more wee than I should admit to came out.

It's been a big year for space, it seems, between the ESA landing a probe on a comet half a billion kilometres away, India launching their space programme with a 100% successful remote mission, and the first stages of a seemingly solid commitment by NASA to land a human being on Mars already underway.

Pictured: Spaaaaaaaaaaaaace.

I'm... not going to go into the shirt. Suffice it to say I was one of those who felt it was out of line, but that complaint was delivered, it was acknolwedged, and amends were made in a few hours, and the only people still going on about it even a day later were GamerGaters trying to be relevant.

...which brings us to one of the real downers of the year. If you don't already know who and what GamerGate are, you're genuinely better off at this point not knowing, and at any rate a lot of people have done it better than I probably would already, so Google it if you'd like. The tl;dr is it's not been a proud time to be white, male, middle-class, a nerd, a fan of games or on the internet the past few months.

Pictured: An ethic.

It has had its plus points, including this Tumblr feed and the entry onto the world stage of such brilliant, inspirational women as Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn and Brianna Wu, but the best thing it's achieved so far is gradually dying away (although it seems it's not quite dead yet).

While I'm on a down note... Look, I'm not American and I'm not in America, so I appreciate this is an outside perspective and I don't fully understand the situation, but...

Honestly? It's really easy not to kill unarmed people. I do it all day. I could come round and show you how. In the meantime, while I'm sure there's context and it's all very complex, it just seems like something could be happening differently, and like the people with the ability to make that happen aren't really listening to the people asking for it. A lot of people are hurting, and a lot of people are angry, and the people with more power and more culpability are shouting at everyone else about how not enough people are empathising with them, and not trying real hard to empathise with anyone else. Not sure what the deal is, but I'm praying for you guys to sort yourselves out.

Marriage Rights
Alright, screw that negative shit. Honestly, if you told me five years ago that David fucking Cameron was going to usher in equal marriage rights in the UK, I'd have called you a goddamned liar to your face, and it turns out I'd have been a fool to do so. Already I have several friends who have jumped on the privilege, and I'm so happy to be living in a time when they can make that choice. Not least because, if this can change, what else can we do in our lifetimes?

Because... okay, yeah, I'm a big old feminist, in a time when that word is so contentious Time magazine apparently thought it was cool to call for it to be expunged from the English language, and I'm sometimes called a "Facebook feminist" or a "social justice warrior" (which to be honest sounds a lot more badass than the people saying this probably mean it to). But I've seen a hundred tiny steps forward this year, not least two people (that I can bring to mind) telling me directly that they've changed their outlook on gender in part because I'd helped them understand the world in a different way. It feels like the progressive side is under a huge attack, from the homophobes and the misogynists and the transphobes and the racists and those who demonise the poor - and all the rest - but I honestly believe that's just because we got them scared.

Pictured: A feminist cookie, just for you.

So keep up the good fight, guys. You're not the heroes they deserve etc.

A thousand, thousand times this.

Pictured: The whole future.

This little creature right here is the most amazing thing in the world. A year ago she couldn't crawl; now she runs, climbs, sprints and speaks. She teaches me so much about her, and about myself, every day, that I can barely keep up. And she terrifies me; because I want to give her the world she deserves.

Have a fun evening, and a very happy New Year. Here's to 2015 being even more amazing.


Thursday, 18 December 2014

Write for Abaddon Books! Redux

Hey folks!

So, next year, Abaddon Books will have existed as an entity for ten years (the first book came out around a year later, in 2006, but we started being book people in 2005).

Ten years! Ten years. TEN YEARS! A lot can happen in ten years. Like me: I freaked out at the senior prom, joined the Army, went into business for myself and became a professional killer.

Wait, no; that’s the plot of the John Cusack vehicle Grosse Point Blank. I get confused sometimes.

Okay, so: I’ve been with Rebellion Publishing for a hair over five years, and it’s the best game in town. Big enough to swim at the deep end, small enough to do we want. Abaddon Books is a home for risk-taking, innovation and irreverence, and we’re immeasurably proud to have brought some of the best, brightest and most challenging new names onto the market.

And here we are doing it again! Our last subs month was a blast; the talent, passion and dedication shining through every page blew me away. The only drawback, in fact, was having to say ‘no’ to so many people who frankly deserved a shot, because so damned many of you were so good. And I’m pretty sure this is going to be even bigger. So go ahead and do it! Bleed and sweat on your keyboard and make my job twice as hard as last time. It’s all I want.

[turns on Netflix to look for Grosse Point Blank]

Man, that was a great movie.

Oh, wait, you’re still here.

So we’re looking for two things! Firstly, I would love to see a submission for a new 30,000-word novella set in one of our existing worlds, particularly The Afterblight Chronicles, Tomes of the Dead, Weird Space or Gods & Monsters. Pick up some our existing characters – I would love to see a “what happened next” for The Culled’s nameless hero and Kill or Cure’s Jasmine! – or bring a new character into the mix of any of our worlds.

Secondly, and more importantly, I’m looking for a new world! Find something we haven’t done. Hard SF, maybe, or a monster we haven’t done (werewolves? faeries?). Maybe something I haven’t thought of at all and therefore can’t give an example of! Again, I want a 30,000-word novella, which will kick start a new series in 2015.

You’ve got until mid-February. The doors open (metaphorically) at midnight on January 14th, 2015, and close at midnight on February 15th, 2015. Send us a 150-word “elevator pitch,” a 1000-word chapter-by-chapter breakdown, and a 2000-word sample, to, by the deadline, and expect to hear from me... some point. When I get around to it. It can take a while (okay: you can start chasing me on the 1st March).

Do it.

What are you still doing here? Do it.

EXTREMELY IMPORTANT ADDENDUM! Abaddon is a Work For Hire imprint. That means that we buy your work off you outright, rather than the licensing-with-royalties deal you're probably more aware of. The money's a bit better up front, but you lose control once we buy it. This may not be for all people. If you want to understand more about the Work For Hire model, feel free to get in touch and ask some questions.

Friday, 28 November 2014

5 Years a Nerd: The memoires of a Mr David Thomas Moore

I was one of the lucky ones.

A bachelor’s degree in English is not notoriously a career qualification (there’s a whole song devoted to the fact). There’s academia, of course, or teaching (my initial plan, which didn’t survive uni); and English degrees serve as jumping-off points for unrelated careers, like law or politics. But actual jobs in word-wrangling are like hen’s teeth. It’s basically just journalism or publishing, and those are traditionally fields where a huge number of candidates battle fiercely for a small number of jobs on miserable salaries.

So, naturally, nine years after leaving university, with a modestly successful career in events and technology in the banking sector (because of course), I decided to pack it all in and become an editor. That should be easy, right?

But I got lucky. I got into Rebellion Publishing just as it took over the Solaris imprint from Black Library, beating down more than a hundred and forty other candidates for the junior editorial role, based almost entirely on my winning personality and on a powerful hypnosis gun developed by the CIA for interrogating super-criminals.

And I've never looked back. Five years – and, at a very rough guess, nine million words – later, I'm the commissioning editor for a punky, edgy midlist imprint I’m hugely proud to be steering and representing, I've learned skills I never imagined I’d need, and I’ve become part of a huge community of wonderful, neurotic, spirited, diverse and brilliant people.

That said, here are five things I've learned in five years being a professional word-nerd:

We really are the bad guys.
I wasn’t really prepared for this – possibly because, while I've always written, in a hobbyish sort of way, I’d never really tried to make a living from it – but some people out there really hate us. I went to a writers’ con a few years back (the excellent alt.fiction, in Derby), and in some of the panels, the vitriol from the audience – and questions like “So how long do you think it’ll take ebooks to kill publishing?”got slightly alarming. The sheer volume and intensity of the Hachette/Amazon thing may have seemed startling, but really it just tapped into something that’s been there for years.

It’s understandable, if you've been knocked back enough times, and I totally appreciate that I’m in the hugely privileged position of pulling down a monthly salary instead of scraping by on advances and royalties, but it was... eye-opening.

Writers can be some of the best – and worst – people to work with.
Long before I became a professional editor, I was a sort of de facto one. I was everyone’s one guy you send things to to make sure they’re spelled right. Bosses would ask me to read emails, friends would send me their CVs. And I got to learn that most people don’t want editing, aside from a very light spelling and grammar check. They want to be told that their writing’s fine by someone who should know.

At their worst, that habit carries over into a writer’s professional writing career. I've had writers fight me over every change, demand extra passes, cling desperately to their darlings, profess to having been driven to tears (or drink), and demand to be assigned a different editor (or to be assigned to me from another editor). You listen patiently, you try and show your reasoning, you negotiate, and – ultimately – you let them have their way, because it’s their name on the cover. Editing is a collaboration.

But the vast – vast – majority of authors are a delight. They want to be edited; they want their work to be the best it can, and the closer and more brutal an edit I give them, the happier they are. I’ve had veterans of upwards of forty books singing my praises for excoriating their work, and new writers thanking me for helping them learn their craft. It’s absolutely bloody wonderful, and as long as it’s the majority I’m happy I’m doing it right.

This can be a pretty cynical industry.
(Some my personal experience; some related to me by friends and peers.)

“Can we have an exploding spaceship on it? People buy books with exploding spaceships on them.”
“The readers won’t get this from the title. Can you put a vampire on the cover?”
“Is this more like Terry Pratchett or Joe Abercrombie? For the tagline.”
“Make the covers look like George Martin books. Make it easier for them.”
“Add another male character. We need to appeal to the core male market.”

’Nuff said.

Nobody knows what’s coming up.
“Zombies are over.”
“No, steampunk's over.”
“Vampires are over, mummies are next.”
“Post-apoc’s over, it’s child spies now.”
“Space opera’s over, it’s transhumanism next year.”
“Epic fantasy’s still in, but it needs to be by a person of colour.”
“No, epic fantasy’s over, it’s grimdark now.”
“No, grimdark’s dead, it’s political fantasy.”


You guys are the best.
Alright, gushy moment. But having spent a decade having to have a nerdy, flamboyant private persona and a (somewhat) more serious work persona, it’s been such a relief coming here. Publishers, writers, agents and community folk are bright, creative, intensely neurotic, interested in science and technology, hugely politically and socially aware, progressive, diverse, welcoming, relaxed, and engaged in an extraordinary mix of hobbies: my Facebook feed, at present, includes articles on historical martial arts, crochet patterns, cupcake recipes, Fermi’s Paradox, punctuation and grammar, bunnies, medieval manuscripts, politics, copyright law and mathematics. Every day’s an education.

A really odd education.



p.s.: The Munsters pics was Lydia’s idea. No, I don’t know either.

All images from The Munsters TV show and are ©1964-1966 CBS.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

My Favourite Library

Slightly dodgy composite picture courtesy of Google StreetView
Hey all,

So as you may or may not have heard, the City of Liverpool recently decided against a backdrop of library closures and protest campaigns across the country to close 11 of their 18 libraries; a decision, happily, that was reversed in response to a protest and a love letter to libraries by more than 500 authors, illustrators, musicians and actors. Its a lovely story and a testament to the power of positive, collective action. And its a really big deal.

In response, Book Week Scotland and the Guardian are running a “Love Letters to Libraries” event, in which readers are invited to share their memories of their favourite libraries. And so I decided that Id jump on the blog and share my own.


Goodwood is a busy little suburb near the centre of Adelaide, South Australia. Its a popular commuter neighbourhood, being close to and convenient for the City, with a long row of shops, a slightly historic cinema, a number of beautiful colonial-era churches and any number of pubs. There are cool coffee shops and quirky little boutiques, because it’s that sort of area.

Goodwood Library isnt particularly grand. It doesn’t have an extraordinary number of books, its not a vast or ancient building, no-one particularly famous wrote their manuscript in its reading room. You cant even find, as I discovered today, a good picture online of it; the above slightly distorted image is a Google StreetView grab, and the best I could get.

What it is, however, is less than a hundred yards from Goodwood Primary School, where your author spent his formative years. It had close ties to the school, ran afterschool groups and, with a large playroom full of beanbags and climbing blocks, was generally very welcoming of kids.

We were a single-parent household, for most of my childhood; my mother worked long days, and my brother and sister and I took ourselves to and from school every day. The Library was a haven, at the end of the day, or at weekends when I wanted to get out of the house. Looking back, an extraordinary number of my memories of that time involved the library: reading, playing with friends, bothering the staff. I made friends there; I encountered the divine Miss Bette Midlers stand-up routine in the record room; I played video games for the first time (I even won a competition one of the librarians ran, one Sunday); I even had my first slightly confused lesson about sex there, (shamefully) stealing a copy of The Joy of Sex to read (look at) out of sight.

And more than anything, I read. Id go and read all day, then take home as many books as they let me borrow at the end of the day, so that I could keep reading until I came back.

Ultimately, my love of books (and my career in publishing) originated in my parents, both of whom kept houses full of books and both of whom I remember reading to me in my infancy. But it was nourished and nurtured by Goodwood Library, and while I have stood in many libraries since leaving Goodwood behind some of them ancient and grand indeed this will always be the library I remember best.