Cuban Fumes and French Bubbles

One evening a few weeks ago, I had a telephone conversation with Lee Harris of Angry Robot.

Afterwards, I placed a bottle of champagne in the freezer to chill and fetched a cigar from the humidor – I haven’t smoked a cigar for three or four years and was beginning to wonder if I ever would again. My wife came home from work to the sight of me puffing on a fat H. Upmann and pouring her an icy glass of fizz. She knew it had to be something special: it was the day I secured my first two book deal, and coincided with the news that I’d finally found myself a new agent.

About the work:

It’s a duology – Black Feathers and The Book of The Crowman. Book I launches in April 2013, Book II in 2014. These novels represent my most ambitious fiction to date and if I were to categorise the work by genre, I’d call it Eco-Fantasy. You can see a little more information about the deal and the books at This Is Horror.

I’m elated, of course, in case I forgot to mention that. It means I’ll have the opportunity to work with some of the best people in modern genre fiction at a publishing house that’s turning heads internationally. It also means Black Feathers will be distributed in North America where, so far, I’ve only reached a small handful of readers.

Alongside Blood Fugue (Proxima/SALT) and Splinters (Timeline Books), this is my third book deal this year.

To give you an idea of how long these things can take, I finished Black Feathers in October 2010, having germinated the central idea for at least seven years. It wasn’t until October 2011 that I submitted it to the fine gentlemen at Angry Robot, and only on Thursday was I able to announce the finalised deal. The stories in Splinters are from as far back as ten years ago and Blood Fugue is a novel I’ve reworked so many times, in so many ways, I’ve lost count. So, really, although it looks like I’ve produced a hat-trick out of thin air, I’ve been preparing these projects for ages. Everything just happened to coincide in 2012.

I’m so glad I didn’t self-publish when things were grim. It was the logical thing to do after Beautiful Books went out of business and I parted company with my previous agent. I’m not a logical person, though. I thought a lot about all the avenues I could take and couldn’t decide. In the end, I explained the situation to my three-year-old and asked her what I should do. She said I should wait. That felt right to me, so I did. And here we are several months and three book deals later. I suppose I ought to buy the little scamp an ice cream or something!

On the agent front, I’ve been aggressively seeking new representation for a year. Over the last couple of months, I’ve been communicating with a particular agent I had a very good feeling about. Following a long meeting and some soul-searching about where I want to go with my work, we shook hands a couple of weeks ago. My new agent – the last I’ll ever have, I hope – is the elemental force, Brie Burkeman. She’s pure gold.

So, I’m off now. I’ve suddenly got three separate deadlines to hit in what remains of this year. Let’s hope the world doesn’t end before I’m done.

Hater by David Moody

Danny McCoyne is an urban underdog, depressed by work, exhausted by family life and leading a directionless existence. Everything changes when a global outbreak of unexplained violence threatens his life and that of his wife and three children.

What I found most frightening about Hater was not its matter-of-fact brutality but Moody’s implication that society is irretrievably flawed: We’ve lost touch with our fundamental nature. We don’t really know who we are any more, nor do we understand our purpose. Only a threat so primal it reduces us to an animal state can strip away the hype and bullshit we all drown in each day.

Clearly, Hater isn’t a Zombie tale but at its heart, the us/them friend/foe theme makes it a very close genre cousin. The book is a plea for clarity in a world of lies – lies we are all responsible for.

It’s a pacy, action-packed novel and it flashes along to a climax I’d describe as liberating. However, I love it more for its subtext and what it hints at about our modern world. Moody’s telling us to get in touch with our shadows – before it’s too late.

Four stars.