Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Angry Robot signs Adam Christopher (+ Interview!)

Those busy metal fellows at dynamic SF publishing imprint Angry Robot have pounced upon the debut novel of British-based New Zealander ADAM CHRISTOPHER.

Christopher is well-known to many at the heart of the British science fiction community through his strong presence on Twitter, under the nickname @ghostfinder. It was through reading his posts that AR first became aware of him – a lesson to other prospective authors, perhaps. In keeping with Angry Robot’s emphasis on the new channels for promoting all of its authors, he will of course continue to promote his work via Twitter.

The deal, for world rights to two novels across all formats, was done between Christopher and Angry Robot editor Lee Harris.

EMPIRE STATE is a story of superheroes, and a city divided in two. Detective Rad Bradbury picks up the trail of a murderer, only to discover that the world he has always known is a pocket universe, recently brought into existence by an explosion of phenomenal power. With a superhero on his tail he crosses into a city that bears a remarkable resemblance to his own – a city called New York. There he uncovers a deadly threat to the Empire State, and finds that the future of both realities are at stake.

Lee Harris of Angry Robot said, “It’s always a great feeling when you find a new author – especially one with Adam’s talent. Empire State is reminiscent of China MiĆ©ville’s The City & the City – the existence of superheroes within Adam’s world serving to underline the very human struggle for survival. We’re pretty excited.”

Adam Christopher added, “I’ve been following Angry Robot ever since their mothership landed in 2009, and they quickly became one of my favourite imprints. Over the last couple of years they’ve built a brilliant list of authors and titles, and to be part of it all really is a dream come true.”

Empire State will be published in January 2012, with a second superhero-themed fantasy, Seven Wonders, to follow before the end of the year too.

More information can be found at angryrobotbooks.com and Adam’s site adamchristopher.co.uk … and of course via @ghostfinder and @angryrobotbooks

Angry Robot is a new genre publisher, bringing readers the best in new SF, F and WTF?! All titles are released as paperbacks and in all major eBook formats. Distribution is through Random House (North America) and GBS (UK). Angry Robot is part of the Osprey Group.

For more information, review copies, interview and feature requests contact Mike Ramalho (mike.ramalho@angryrobotbooks.com or +44 (0) 186 581 1325).

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Adam is a great friend of mine, and I couldn't be more pleased and proud for him at this news. I've had sneak peeks of some of his work, and Angry Robot have signed a fantastic new talent. When I heard that the press release was imminent, I begged Adam for his first interview and he graciously agreed.

AMANDA: Since you're an author now, how about putting into words exactly how you felt on hearing that you were to be signed by Angry Robot? How did you celebrate? Does it feel real yet?

ADAM: It was pretty unreal. It still feels pretty unreal! Becoming a published author is a dream come true – suddenly all that work, the long hours early in the morning and late at night, weekends lost in a haze of typing, really was worth it. I guess all authors feel like this when they make their first novel sale. Writing is a very solitary pastime, especially for authors who have not sold that first book yet. Until you do, you’re really just writing for yourself, hoping that you’ve got something good enough to entertain other people. So when you get that phone call, your life really does change in an instant.

So: exhilarating, exciting, bizarre and surreal. Does it feel real? I’m… undecided! The contract is signed, the announcement has been made, and I even know the ISBNs of the first two books. But I think this feeling is going to last quite a while, until I actually see a copy of Empire State sitting in a bookstore! It’s no secret that Angry Robot are one of my favourite imprints and I’ve been reading them since their first releases back in mid-2009, so for them to have actually said “yes” is pretty cool (the understatement of the year, I suspect).

My wife and I celebrated by going out to dinner, possibly more than once. Champagne may have been involved, but I’m a little hazy on the details.

AMANDA: Can you tell us a little bit about the submission process, and the novel that Angry Robot will be publishing?

ADAM: The first book is called Empire State, and it’s sort of a science fiction-detective-noir. Private detective Rad Bradbury, who lives in this dreary, fog-bound city called the Empire State, is called to investigate a gruesome murder, only to find himself being chased not only by a superhero who is supposed to be dead, but by a couple of masked agents who seem to know an awful lot about him. His investigations reveal an alarming secret about the Empire State and its connection with another place called New York, and he gets caught up in a conspiracy that threatens both worlds.

Empire State is very much flavoured by the Prohibition era and the paranoia that gripped the US in the 1950s. It’s got rocket-powered superheroes, strange men in hats, an airship or two, and an old man in a big house with something hidden in his basement. It was a lot of fun to write!

Seven Wonders, which is coming out at the end of 2012, is a superhero story in the more traditional sense – all spandex and primary colours and people in capes shooting laser beams out of their eyes. I’m a big fan of superhero comics, so perhaps not surprisingly this has found its way into my writing!

The whole submission process was pretty straightforward – I knew the Angry Robot guys online (as the press release says, nothing would have happened if it hadn’t been for Twitter!) and sometime in mid-2010 I dropped by their office for a visit. Over lunch I described Empire State, and outlined a few other novels I’ve also written (including Seven Wonders). Marc and Lee liked what they heard and invited me to send it in.

After that it was pretty much the usual thing – sample chapters and a full synopsis, and then the full manuscript was requested. The whole process from that initial meeting to signing the contract took about nine months. People talk about the publishing industry being slow but it’s a complicated business. There were a lot of individual stages and checkpoints that Empire State had to get through before they made the offer.

AMANDA: Were Angry Robot the only publisher you submitted to? Why did you pick them?

ADAM: Yes they were the only ones. I’d been following them since they launched, as their whole approach to SF seemed pretty fresh. I knew when I started writing Empire State back in September 2009 that it was going to be an odd book – part science fiction, part hardboiled Raymond Chandler detective story, part retro superhero action. It was pretty clear that it would fit with what Angry Robot were doing – not everything I write has quite the same number of different elements mixed in, but Empire State really felt like an Angry Robot book.

That’s not to say I wrote the book specifically for Angry Robot. I had a story I wanted to tell, and that’s the book I wrote. When the book was done, Angry Robot was a very obvious choice. And they agreed!

AMANDA: What advice can you give to those writing novels now?

ADAM: This is a tricky question – I’m a debut author right at the very start of my career, so I can only talk about my own experience and what seemed to work. I’m certainly no expert and as with any writing advice, not everything fits with everyone.

But I think there are two things you need to do in conjunction. The writing comes first, obviously. You’ve just got to get your butt in the chair and write, and keep writing. The more projects you finish, the more chances you have for getting them out there. Empire State was the third novel I wrote. I started writing it just after I finished the second novel (which was actually Seven Wonders), and when Empire State was done I went straight on to the next book.

The other thing is making contacts. I got myself into a position to talk to Angry Robot (who, aside from the open reading period in March 2011, do not accept uninvited or unagented submissions) because I made friends with them online. And I really do mean friends – Lee and I share a similar taste in books, comics, films and television, so it was only natural for us to gravitate towards each other on Twitter. Twitter and other social media outlets are tools for writers, and essential ones at that, but it’s like writing itself: you shouldn’t write books because you want to get a book deal and become a best-selling author. You should write books because you need to write books. Stephen King didn’t sit down to write his first novel Carrie with the intention of becoming rich and famous. He sat down to write Carrie because he had a story to tell. So that’s the writing first – if you write, and keep writing, and get better at writing, everything else will flow from it.

As it is with social media. I didn’t join Twitter in order to get a book deal or to promote myself. Sure, I talk about writing and what I’m working on, and I blog about that too, but I got on Twitter to join the conversation. It’s a great place to find like-minded people and engage with them. I love writing, and I love books, and there are a lot of people who share those interests. Some of them happen to be editors or agents or publishers, and if you know them and they know you, you’ve got a head start when it comes time to actually show your work to someone.

That might sound a bit like “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, but that’s not true. You’ve got to have the goods to back it up, of course. It’s no good building a platform or filling a notebook with useful names if you then don’t have anything to show to people.

AMANDA: Where do you see yourself in five years time? What is next for Mr Christopher?

ADAM: Ask me in five years! It’s so hard to say – still writing is the obvious answer. I’ve got enough ideas for novels to last the next decade, and that’s just the number of cards I can fit on the corkboard on my office wall! Angry Robot have me contracted for two novels initially, so we’ll see how it goes. There’s work to be done between now and Empire State (and then Seven Wonders) coming out, so my focus is going to be on those two, as well as whatever I’m writing now/then – I’m currently working on novel five, and also novel six (which is a collaboration). Meanwhile novel number four is out with my crack team of beta-readers. You gotta keep on truckin’!

Later this year I’ve got a steampunk novella called The Wasp in the Lotus coming out in a five-story anthology, Her Majesty’s Mysterious Conveyance, from US-based Echelon Press – hopefully we’ll have copies ready in time for Alt Fiction in June, which I’ll be attending alongside the two other British authors in the anthology, Jennifer Williams and Kim Lakin-Smith. I’ve also got another short coming in Hub soon. I don’t write short fiction very often, so it’s always a pleasure to have it featured in such a great online magazine.

Writing is something I have to do and something I enjoy doing, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. So long term, perhaps one day I’ll be able to ditch the day job and do this thing fulltime. That’s the dream, but let’s talk again in 2016 and see what happened, shall we?


Thanks so much, Adam! I hope you'll all join me in wishing Adam huge congratulations and the very best of luck in his writing career with Angry Robot.

3 comments:

  1. That is such lovely news! Congrats to Adam!! Looking forward to reading Empire State :-D

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  2. I'm so so proud of Adam and deliriously happy for him. BEST NEWS EVER :D

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  3. Yay! I'm so happy for him!

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