Tuesday 25 May 2010

Your Questions Answered!

Hi all,

Well, a nice response to "Ask an Editor..." Day all around. Thanks to all who wrote in with questions! We felt generous, so all three of us have given answers to your questions.

Paul asked...
"OK, so if you could poach any author from another publisher's roster, who would it be, and what would you use to bait the defection?"
Jon answered: Well obviously we wouldn’t do that, as we’re dedicated professionals, but you do sometimes wish you were the people who got to publish Joe Hill first in the UK. Or China Mieville. However, this is more a case of admiring other lists rather than publishing envy. I’m very proud to work with the authors we currently have.

David answered: I could answer in a pie-in-the-sky, Fantasy Publisher’s League way about the authors I’d love to work with, but really they’d just be the authors whose works I really love, so it’d tell you more about my reading habits than my editorial preferences. I guess I'd have liked to discover Marie Philips' Gods Behaving Badly, and Justina Robson's Lila Black series. But we genuinely love our authors, who work hard for us and produce books we’re proud to put our brand on. And all those hookers and coke we send out never seem to have any effect anyway.

Jenni answered: Terry Pratchett still won’t return my calls. Or my hookers.

Jonathan D. Beer asked...
"Given the market trends in sci-fi and fantasy, where do you see the future of steampunk titles heading? More? Less? Scorned in favour of the next sparkly-vampires YA series?
"Damn, I think I'm going to regret asking a more hilarious question on this day of days. A great idea by the way."
Jon answered: Certainly more. I mean look at the success of people like Stephen Hunt. When we first started the Pax Britannia series for Abaddon, steampunk was pretty niche. But now it seems to be gathering more and more momentum.

David answered: I was genuinely thrown by this one. I thought Steampunk was awesome when it reared its head in the 'nineties, but would have sworn blind it was going to be a flash in the pan. But it's going from strength to strength, and spinning off other alternate history models like the Renaissance-era "clockpunk" stuff you're seeing coming up. It's not the one-trick pony it first looked like. Definitely more.

Jenni answered: I am slightly worried by the sudden popularity of the sub-genre steampunk romance. It’s really taken hold – wasn’t Steamed (Katie MacAlister) the biggest-selling steampunk novel in the US last year? I hope the genre can stick by its roots. But then as a girl in genre publishing it seems like it’s my duty to regularly express shock/horror/alarm at any and all things romance, in case people think I actually read it or something. [cue one of the clich├ęd Twilight-related criticisms that you’d heard a hundred times by the end of 2009]

Anonymous asked...
"Will you publish my book?"
Jon answered: I’ll give the drop-off address for the suitcase full of unmarked bills and then we’ll talk.

David answered: Nice try, Dan Brown, but the answer is still no.

Jenni answered: Yes, let’s do it. We love agreeing to publish books on the basis of anonymous comments. Nothing could possibly go wrong with that.

Mihai (Dark Wolf) asked...
"What roles play the selling potential and the literary value when publishing a new author? Does one of these aspects weight more when considering a new manuscript?"
Jon answered: Obviously you don’t want to publish something that’s going to be too obscure, but we do look for fresh new ideas and takes on genre and we’re not adverse to taking risks. Literary value I think is most important, as if a book is well written that’s going to help sell it. We do look at brand new authors along with established names and we treat every MS with the same level of professionalism, care and attention to detail.

David answered: Gotta strike a balance. Publishing generates very slender profits; we have to pander to the market a bit or we'll go bust. But we're all in this industry because we love books, so we're not just going to churn out crap that we think will sell well; apart from anything else, in the long run that'll give us a bad reputation and lose us sales anyway. We're looking for books that we'll be proud of and will sell well. Fortunately, that coincides a lot more than people seem to think.

Jenni answered: What they said. It’s all about balance, young grasshopper.

Bill asked...
"Do most of your submissions come from agents? How many, say, in a month? Are there any agents that you have a particularly strong relationship with, i.e., that you could suggest for someone who wanted to be published with you?
"Maybe too many questions, huh? ;-)"
Jon answered: For Solaris, yes most. Possibly around 4 a month. There are many excellent genre agents out there and we have good relationships with John Jarrold, John Berlyne, Dorothy Lumley to name but a few.

David answered: What Jon said. He’s the Man.

Jenni answered: John Jarrold is cool – and really helpful to new writers, I’ve heard.

Harry Markov asked...
"If you could find yourself in an outrageous parody of three popular movies, which three movies would you choose?
"I want a frivolous answer, but offensive works, too."
Jon answered: Good grief. Erm... Some movies just parody themselves don’t they? Maybe some of the more obscure stuff like Turkey Shoot, The Last Dragon and any Danny Dyer film, as he’s always unintentionally hilarious. Bruvver!

David answered: I wouldn't appear in an outrageous parody. I'm a class outfit. I tend to think I'll appear in some high-brow Woody Allen pastiche. Ooh! Allen would do an excellent job of parodying the Twilight movies. Introspective neurotic middle-aged New Yorker falls in love with a beautiful young vampire and spends the whole movie debating whether he should kill him or ask to be turned into a vampire as well. I'd play the sarcastic best friend. Or the vampire. Gay vampire romance is classy, isn't it?

Jenni answered: Me and my best friend wrote a couple of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter parodies, back in the day. We thought we were pretty funny. Something like that, full of parody potential, LotR, Star Wars, a superhero movie... I’m not much of an actor but I’d play anyone wearing a cool costume, as long as I got to keep it!

Mihai (Dark Wolf) asked...
"How important is the cover artwork in the editing process? Is more important the originality of the artwork or the pattern that had success before?"
Jon answered: We try and make it so the artwork is descriptive of the book. We’re not going to plonk any old image on the front. Obviously it helps if a series maintains a certain look for consistency. But basically we look for the best cover artists and use their talents accordingly.

David answered: Original is cool, striking is better. I want to look at the cover and think, "I bet the book in here is awesome!" Which, once again, is both commercially valuable and artistically principled. There's a lot that in this business, which is good.

Jenni answered: The artwork should look and feel new, but the format (fonts, layout etc) of a series should stay the same in a series so that it’s easy for bookshops and book buyers to recognise the series. Not that we treat you like you’re easily confused, or anything... I love some of the artwork we’ve had recently, Clint Langley’s art for King Rolen’s Kin and Vincent Chong’s art for Shine: An Anthology of Optimistic Science Fiction have been my faves.


Monday 24 May 2010

"Ask an Editor..."

Hi all,

Here's the thing. We get good reading figures: hundreds of individual visits every month, scores of unique visitors every day. That's the dedicated blog readers; there are hundreds of you that visit the main Solaris page every day and presumably read the most recent posts. There's basically a metric assload of readers. But we don't seem to hear lots from you; there are a smattering of comments, and we get the odd email. A little more traffic on the Twitter feed.

And we'd like to hear from you. To that end, we're declaring "Ask an Editor..." Day! Post a comment here with a question, and Jenni, Jon or I will answer. Maybe seriously, maybe frivolously, maybe even slightly offensively, but you will get an answer. Just for one day.

Get posting, Abaddonians!



Thursday 20 May 2010

Ooh! Ooh!

Jon Green took some photers of the event as well.

Of me! Photos of me!

I love me.

Here's his blog post.

Cheers, Jon.


Cold Warriors Launch Party

Hi all,

The official Launch Party for Rebecca Levene's The Infernal Game: Cold Warriors took place amidst a modest fanfare last night at the rather snug Phoenix Artist Club on Charing Cross Road. A good time was had by all.

(One of the attendees obligingly pointed out to me that Googlemaps provides you with a street-level view of the venue. Check out the wonders of the twenty-first century, kids.)

Pornokitsch's fabulous Jared Shurin organised and presided over the event, and has put a brief thank you up for everyone here.

No, thank you, Jared. We had a blast.

We sold out of books, met with some very cool people - industry people and fans alike - and generally got our groove on. Bex seemed to enjoy herself, Bex's mum was very nice, and the atmosphere was very warm.

(And warm, actually. It was an underground venue and we were pretty tightly packed, so we got pretty hot.)

Anyway, I ran around with a camera and got some images to remember the occasion by. Here follows my pictorial tour of the evening:

The extraordinary Jared. He and his glamorous partner Anne Perry ran around the whole time, talking to everyone and generally making sure the whole thing went smoothly. He makes it to a lot of cons and things; if you ever get a chance to grab him for a drink and a chat, do so. He's very friendly.

Ms. Levene appeared to be camera-shy, or at least diligently remained on the far side of the room from the book stand, so capturing her on film was a challenge. This was shoot on high zoom through three conversations.

Rebecca is also afraid of public speaking. Her friend Magnus (I should probably know his full name, but regret that I don't) read a sample of the book. She then stood and gave a terrified forty second speech and fled the mic.

Our talented designer and artist Pye Parr, who did the beautiful cover you can see at the top of this post. Looking slightly bewildered that I would choose to photograph him.

At the beginning of the evening, with Ms. Levene's close friends mostly in evidence, they sat down for a meal before the guests arrived. Jenni stood in the way of my shot. Nuisance girl.

I'm explaining to this lady the themes and concepts underlying Transformers. It's not my fault; she asked about my shirt.

Actually, slightly disappointed. Clearly someone else has highjacked my camera and sneakily taken my photo. This doesn't bother me - I absolutely love having my photo taken - but whoever it is (Jenni denies all knowledge) failed to let me know so that I could pose pretentiously. Damn them.

"Jon! Jon! Jonathan! Look over here!" I cried, but in vain.
I guess that dude he was talking to was rilly, rilly interesting.

Scott Andrews was on antibiotics and not drinking - a tragic state of affairs in a room of media lushes - and so decided to give me an "I'm not impressed that you're taking my photo" pose. Nice try, Andrews, but I'm hip to your jive. Putting on a pose to show that you don't want to pose doesn't make sense. It just doesn't work like that.

So, anyway, a splending evening and an auspicious kick-off for an awesome book. Very slightly hungover (I'm more suffering from getting to bed at 2am than anything else) but pleased by the outcome.

Do buy it and read it; your life will be improved by it by a typical 17.2%. This has been proven by scientists; and scientists can't lie. It's genetic or something.



Wednesday 19 May 2010

Cold Warriors Launch Final News

Hi all,

We've given away six tickets to the Cold Warriors launch in Soho this evening already, but it's not too late! Send an email to abaddon@rebellion.co.uk and tell us why you deserve it, and we'll give you a ticket to the launch party and a stylish and commemorative "Hermetic Division" tie-pin of your very own!

Special update: Simon Parr, the artist and designer of the cover (shown right), will be there. So you can give him your adoration and badger him to autograph the book for you as well as Rebecca Levene.




Tuesday 18 May 2010

Children's Crusade and Cold Warriors out in the UK tomorrow!

Cold Warriors at Amazon.co.uk

(Go here to request tickets to the Cold Warriors launch party in London tomorrow night!)

Book Launch Tickets Giveaway!

Right, lightning quick, 'cos this is for tomorrow evening.

Rebecca Levene's awesome new series, The Infernal Game, launches with the first book, Cold Warriors, tomorrow evening at a secret location in London.

We've just heard from the organisers that, after inviting all the trendy media types and booksellers, he has a few tickets left over, and would love us to give them away!

So sling us an email at abaddon@rebellion.co.uk and tell us why you should get a ticket. If we like your answer, not only will we give you a ticket for tomorrow evening's launch party, we'll also throw in one of the shiny new "Hermetic Division" tie pins we've got here in the office.

Ooh, shiny.

Get mailing!

Monday 17 May 2010

Weston Ochse interviews Pat Kelleher!

is the author of Abaddon's upcoming new series, 'No Man's World' - which starts with Black Hand Gang, due to be released on June 15th!

is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Abaddon's zombie horror novel, Empire of Salt. He lives in Arizona, and gave us a dead scorpion when we met him in Brighton. No, really! Okay, it was in the form of a glittery souvenir paperweight...

In march, we had Pat Kelleher interview Weston Ochse to celebrate the release of Empire of Salt! Well, with Pat's Black Hand Gang just around the corner, it's time for Weston to get his own back!

Weston: How did you meet the folks at Abaddon? I assume it was the same dark room selection committee involving shaving cream, steel wool, hula hoops and the Greatest Hits of Abba played at disorienting decibels that I went through.

Pat: You got a selection committee!? You lucky bugger. I was press ganged. I've known fellow Abaddon author Mike Wild for years now. We regularly sit in the pub, drinking pints of Everson's Old Fusilier, batting ideas around, world-building and the like. Little did I suspect I was being groomed (don't take drinks from writers, kids). After one particularly heavy session I woke in an unfamiliar basement chained to a radiator with only the lurid green light of an ancient word processor for company. If I make my daily allotted word count they feed me. If sales are good on Black Hand Gang they've promised me a window.

The truth? When Mike mentioned that the mariner character in the Kerberos world bible was still up for grabs he suggested I put in a pitch. I was hammering it out when I'd found out that Jon Oliver had taken it on, so having just missed my chance at writing for the Kerberos series and not having a zombie or post-apocalyptic idea in my head, when I heard that Abaddon had a one line brief rattling around about WW1 soldiers I seized on it with alacrity, jumping through all the usual hoops of a pitch, a world bible, a sample chapter and chapter breakdown before securing the commission. Throughout the whole process Jon was enthusiastic and encouraging and there was a flurry of emails with Simon Parr, their designer as we thrashed out ideas and sourced reference material for a really a cool cover.* But other than that I have still to meet any of them in the flesh. Strange, that.

Some of Simon's Parr's concept art for the cover image.

The idea of a WWI unit being transported to a hostile planet is intriguing. Can you describe the genesis of the novel?

It's a local war memorial; a bronze statue of a Tommy on a plinth that made an indelible impression on me when I first saw it in childhood, it's a great uncle who died at the Third Battle of Ypres, it's TV documentaries about the Great War containing haunting interviews with survivors.

Beyond that, the initial spark of the story was based in fact, well, I say fact, in that there had been a WW1 battalion that actually vanished in battle; the First 5th Norfolks who, contemporary myth had it, advanced into a cloud at Gallipoli and never came out. The myth persisted in the popular press for a few years but after the war, when the truth was eventually uncovered it was altogether more prosaic and tragic than the legend would have you believe. Nevertheless, the magical 'what if' seed had been planted.**

I felt, as a new Abaddon series, it should have its own distinct tone, something they hadn't done before, and took my initial cues from the books of the period, back when Science Fiction was still called 'Scientific Romance'. Black Hand Gang continues the tradition of those stories, but totally Abaddoned up. Fast paced action and imperialist adventure for the 21st century. If it helps, imagine Charley's War drawn by Kevin O'Neill. I put together a three page pitch and fired it off on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, 2008, the one hundredth anniversary of the Armistice, precisely. Talk about a niche marketing opportunity.

And if this was going to be a First World War battalion, then I really wanted to nail that reality, otherwise it might as well be anybody on an alien planet, so I pored over field manuals, I read journals, diaries, contemporary accounts. I began cherry-picking things from the period that looked interesting; Tesla was claiming to have received extraterrestrial radio signals, there was the rise of the Labour Movement, the General Strike, women's suffrage, Anarchist bombing and shootings and, as I read, the men in the 13th Battalion of the Pennine Fusiliers took on a life of their own. They signed up, made the oath and took the Abaddon shilling, the poor sods. But the War was only half of it.

I always knew the planet was going to be a badass place. Most stories of this period are presented by the author with a mysterious provenance, a journalistic first hand account, letters, an unpublished journal, and so it was with the 13th Pennine Fusiliers. Once I realised that this provenance included silent black and white film, I finally knew that this was the planet, the grainy footage of which would go on to inspire a thousand pulp science fiction magazine covers; untamed and inhospitable even for its indigenous inhabitants: a harsh environment of unforgiving habitats populated by dangerous plants and beasts. Then it just became a case of mashing the two together.

Why WWI soldiers? It seems to me that the weapons and technology wouldn't be the best for combating aliens. I haven't read your book yet, but why not more modern weapons, such as SABOT tank rounds or Hellfire Missiles?

Well, if I'm honest, the weapons were never a primary concern. I knew I wanted a Mark 1 tank, putting the date no earlier than September 1916. I knew I wanted the Somme which only left me a two month window. What ever was available up to and including October 31st 1916 would have to do. Those are the weapons with which I and the Pennines were stuck. And to be honest, I really enjoy having those sorts of limitations.

Sure, the weapons might appear crude by today's standards but in their day they were cutting edge, state-of-the-art and really brought the 'Splodey.

You can ratchet up a body count real quick with a Vickers water-cooled machine-gun (and make a cup of tea into the bargain - how British is that?).

And don't even get me started on gas warfare. Heck, manned flight was barely 10 years old and they'd already figured out how to use it to kill people.

German machine-gun tactics had just changed the face of modern warfare for ever. The British response, the Ironclad landship? It was ripped straight from an HG Wells story. This was Science Fiction becoming science fact right there, right then. This was real life steampunk. These weapons may not be the best for combating aliens, but I for one wouldn't want to be on the receiving end.

So while I can't offer you SABOT tank rounds, depleted uranium bullets or daisy cutters I can offer plum puddings, toffee apples, whizz-bangs, minnies and monsters, with a side order of bayonets 'n' British Pluck served up in a rollicking good yarn.

A Mark 1 WW1 tank - just like the one used by Pat's Pennine Fusiliers in Black Hand Gang

Clearly you enjoy good science fiction. What are a few of your favorite science fiction novels and was there any one in particular that lent more inspiration for Black Hand Gang than others?

I enjoy good fiction full stop. I'm old enough to have read the 'classics'; Asimov, Clarke, Herbert, Bradbury, Harrison. Mind you, back then anything with a Chris Foss cover would do. I read Phillip K Dick, Greg Bear, China Meiville, Dan Abnett but as for individual books? Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's, The Mote in God's Eye, Ian M Banks Culture novels, Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, Paul Cornell's Summertime, Maria Doria Russell's The Sparrow, Carl Sagan's Contact. But Science Fiction is not something to which I restrict myself. I've probably read a lot more fantasy than Science Fiction recently and a whole lot more that isn't either. I buy books faster than I can read 'em, all kinds of stuff. I've added several feet of WW1 research to my shelves in the past year or so which I'm still ploughing through so I haven't had time for much else.

But for my main inspiration, you'd have to go back a hundred years or more.

Authors like HG Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Edwin L Arnold, and Rudyard Kipling. If there were any that had a more direct inspiration on the Black Hand Gang I'd say Arthur Conan Doyle's Professor Challenger stories with a soupcon of John Carter and a seasoning of Gullivar Jones, if not in the specifics at least in the spirit. That's not to say that I'm ignoring a century of Science Fiction. It's just that, filtered through a 1916 character you might not immediately recognize some of it.

They certainly wouldn't. We can sit here today and talk about quantum entanglement, wormholes, M-theory and the like, but back then probably only a half a dozen people in the world understood what the hell Einstein was talking about.

What are your plans when Black Hand Gang hits the streets? Are we talking world tour? Over here in America, I've found that I have so many favorite authors who live in England and I get to meet too few of them.
Folks like Tim Lebbon and Simon Clark I get to see regularly when they travel to America. What about you? Is there going to be a Black Hand Intergalactic Megatour so that all your fans in American and points west can shake your hand and thank you for such great writing? What about getting Abaddon to send you on a whirlwind tour of the Hawaiian Islands? I'll carry your bags...

Well, by the time Black Hand Gang comes out I'll be back in the trenches, deep in the mud of the second novel, I might not have time to stick my head above the parapet, so initially at least I'm hoping to develop more of a web presence. I have some ideas I'm working up to that end. Keep checking here for news. And then, yeah, a breath of fresh air would be good. I'd love to get out to some conventions. I'll be popping up wherever I get the chance.

And an American tour would be great, but I suspect the only way that's going to happen in the near future is if I smuggle myself over in Jon's baggage.

In which case you won't be carrying my bags - I will be the bags. Just don't drop me, or worse, leave me unattended.

*Go here to read about Simon's Black Hand Gang cover design at his blog.
**Go here to read about the lost Sandringham battalion.


Podcast #4 rocking you headphones RIGHT NOW!

Hey guys,

So we're still going. We're kind of stretching the "monthly" concept here, since this is the April podcast and it's mid-May. Maybe we'll sneak a date change on you and call the next one the June podcast. I bet you won't even notice. We'll just go right ahead and do that shit.

Anyway, that's the rather oblique way of announcing the Fourth Abaddon & Solaris Books Pocast, winging it's way to your iTunes folder as we speak! Point your iTunes to this link, or search "Abaddon" (or "Solaris") in the "Search Store" box at the top-right corner of iTunes, to check it out. As ever, if you're a subscriber, iTunes should upload it automatically; it's probably already done so, cheeky little scamp that it is.

David, Jenni and Jon at Abaddon Books and Solaris Books drill directly in through your ears to your cerebrel cortex, monkey up your medulla oblongata and play hell with your limbic system in "what consistently remains the Coco Pops™ of the Podcast world."*

The Abaddon & Solaris Books Podcast #4: Shiny, Happy Gods is introduced by Editor-in-Chief Jon Oliver, who decided to have a rest and let his minions do all the interviewing today. Desk Editor David Moore gushes uncontrollably over interviews James Lovegrove, author of Solaris's Age of Ra and Age of Zeus, and talks about gods, inspiration, writing, research, and frogs and rabbits. Junior Editor Jenni Hill, meanwhile, catches up with Jetse de Vries and Gareth L. Powell - respectively the anthologist of and one of the contributors to the upcoming Shine anthology - at EasterCon, and talks about the anthology and the convention. A good time was had by all.

Special Note: We promise in the blog that James will remember the name of the book of essays he discusses and we'll blog it. And we always keeps our promises. James briefly discusses D'Aulaire's Book of Norse Myths and the introduction by Michael Chabon, but can't remember the name of Chabon's collection of essays, Maps & Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands. He urges you to look both books up.

Now, as promised, I have managed to rein this one in to the tune of ten minutes, so it's about an hour and five. We'll try and make the next one even shorter, but we just have loads of cool stuff to offer you.

As always, give us your tasty, tasy feedback. We love it. We made completely different mistakes this time, so we want to know what mistakes to make next time.



*I think this one was Jenni's mum, but don't quote me.

  • Not on iTunes, and have sworn to end your life rather than download a single Apple application? Here to help! Just point your RSS client here to download the feed without putting a penny in Steve Jobs' pocket. Keep an eye on the blog for updates, in case we change the host or something crazy like that.
  • Bewildered by the term "RSS" and unsure what all this means? No problem, ignorant Luddite! Just follow the exact same link, click on the link to the mp3 of the episode you wish to hear, and you can listen right on your browser! Everyone's a winner!

Friday 14 May 2010

The Devil's ISBN

Okay, check this out, dudes.

The ISBN, as I'm sure you're all aware, is a unique code that every single published book in the world gets. It's used to track and archive books, for the barcodes that the shopgirl uses to scan your purchases in, and for databases that log information about books.

Anyway, your ISBN is allocated to you randomly by various agencies. You get a book, and you fill it in and send the details back to them.

So we just entered Steven Savile's Malory's Knights of Albion: The Black Chalice into our ISBN list, and Ben pointed out the ISBN we just gave it:


Not bad for a book about the Devil's Bible and the anti-grail.

Kick ass.


Thursday 13 May 2010

Cold Warriors Launch!

Oh, sorry to say we missed this!

Hub Magazine, the FREE weekly SF, horror and fantasy magazine downloadable online in PDF or ePub format, had a great review of Rebecca Levene's Cold Warriors in issue 117.

Hub Magazine is run by Lee Harris from Angry Robot books, who recently announced their move away from HarperCollins, to Osprey Publishing.

Abaddon and Solaris Books wish you all the best with the move, guys! We look forward to the relaunch in September...

Speaking of Cold Warriors, we're having the launch party next week! I'm excited... If you're about in London on the evening of May the 19th, keep the date free and we'll see if we can find some tickets to give away...

Temple Library Reviews Interview

Hi all,

Harry Markov, over at Temple Library Reviews, has made a shrewd and, may I say, cultured choice for his most recent candidate.

That's right, me.

Here's the interview. I trust you'll find it germane, witty, and satisfyingly thorough.



We have a winner!

Jonathan Green has announced the lucky winner of his steampunk competition over here. Fans who donated to the author's sister-in-law's London Marathon run for the Devonshire Air Ambulance Trust were entered into a raffle for a cameo in the Pax Britannia book Jon is currently writing. What a prize! We're jealous....

Don't forget that Jon's newest release, the Pax Britannia novel Blood Royal, will be out in the shops in June!