Building a Book

Solaris security. He is the law.

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I had an exciting excursion to Oxford last week. (For some reason, I now have a chorus of voices repeating “all the way to Oxford!” in a pseudo-Stardust style. Ah yes: I remember why. I’m a Gaiman-fangirl. That’ll be it. Anyway, moving on.)

I was in Oxford to visit the office of Solaris Books, who will be publishing “Blood & Feathers” next year, and to meet with the editorial team to talk about stuff, nonsense and the book–as well as to discuss some ideas for covers. Was I excited? What do you think?

And, yes, while I was there, I did get a chance to relieve the groaning office bookshelves of a few choice items… I’m doing them a favour, really. Honestly.

Besides, I did take cakes.

Jon Oliver: Captain of the Good Ship Solaris

I feel exceptionally lucky to have landed with the Solaris team; I mean, I already felt incredibly lucky that something I’ve worked so hard on, and which means so much to me, is being published at all–and I keep wondering whether it’s all a bit of a dream, really, and hoping no-one pinches me!

But above and beyond that, I’m very happy to have the opportunity to work with such passionate people who encourage their writers every step of the way–and have so far allowed me to stick my nose into the business left, right and centre.

Take the cover, for instance.

They’ve gone out of their way to involve me in cover art discussions… although, disappointingly, I was told in no uncertain terms that no, a cover featuring a sparkly pink angel-unicorn riding a tentacle-covered tank was not going to cut the mustard with distributors. I’m thinking: maybe for the next one?

*The* Ben Smith: knower of things, keeper of answers; sometime crusher of unicorns.

I was a bit daunted by the prospect of getting involved in the cover. It’s such a big deal these days: how do you come up with a single image to fit an entire book?

And if that whole “picture’s worth a thousand words” thing is true, don’t we need, like, a hundred of them?

Where do you even start (particularly when, like me, you got a C in GCSE Art–which if you’re entirely honest, you’ll admit you only took because it got you out of playing netball for two years)?

Jenni Hill: I could tell you what she's busy editing, but then she'd have to kill you. And me. *Messily*.

Thus far, though, unicorn/tank issues aside (seriously. I’m having that on something. It’s genius) everyone has been amazing: providing exactly the right combination of hand-patting and “don’t-be-so-bloody-stupid”-ing.

Possibly the most surreal moment of the afternoon came when it dawned on me that I was sitting with a group of people who had all read my book. All of them. And–apparently–rather liked it. Not only that, but suddenly it struck me that it wasn’t just mine any more–it was theirs too.

I had a bit of a wibble then, and had to hang on to the edge of my chair so I didn’t fall off.

The mellifluous David Moore: easily recognisable from the Abaddon & Solaris Podcast (or, if you were there, FCon 2010's metal karaoke...)

I had a good poke around the office, and we talked about the books they’re working on at the moment (I’m desperate to read one in particular: Gaie Sebold‘s “Babylon Steel“, due out in January next year) as well as The Actual Business Of Publishing, about which it turns out I know absolutely nothing.

Then they let me loose on the bookshelves…

It’s a nice feeling, this. I could get used to it.

By the way, I should point out that some of the Solaris team will be at Fantasycon at the end of this month, and they’ll be holding a special event on the Saturday afternoon (2 – 3pm in the Royal Albion’s Regency Lounge). Come along, say hello and pick up a book or two. I should warn you: I might well be there, but don’t let that put you off.

If you’re London-based, too, next Tuesday (September 27th) sees the launch of the latest Solaris anthology, “House of Fear” at Foyles on Charing Cross Road. It’s a ticketed event (although tickets are free) so make sure you reserve a spot if you’re thinking of coming.

And, apropos of absolutely nothing at all, here’s an Elliot Minor video. The song? Why, that’d be “Solaris”, of course…

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4 comments

  1. Heh. Congratulations, and welcome to the gang… (I have known Jon since I think he was still a teenager, turning up to BFS cons: but hey. Now he’s my editor, so I have to be respectful.) Did they give you a copy of Desdaemona while you were there?

    1. They did, Chaz – I’m looking forward to reading it. I’ve heard lots of good things about it!

      Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to check my contract for the “respectful” clause. Where did he sneak that one in….? 😉

  2. Hi Lou!

    I’m immensely flattered you’re looking forward to Babylon Steel – I want to hear more about your book, too. I’m intrigued by the title already.

    Hope to meet you at the House of Fear launch and/or Fantasycon…

    Gaie Sebold

    1. Hi Gaie – absolutely! Jenni’s been raving about it, and I love what I’ve read on the site 🙂

      I’ll definitely try and catch up with you at the launch – and if not, yes, FCon: it’ll be lovely to meet you.

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