First of all, Marc, congratulations on the World Fantasy Award gong.
How did it feel to get nominated for Angry Robot Books? It is a big nod from the international industry isn’t it?
And the win, how fantastic was that? What were your thoughts when you heard that you had won?
Exactly that, such an honour. It was, well, amazing, as my rather sweary Tweets and Facebook posts celebrating the news made clear. I hadn’t expected anything like it for AR – yes, it’s been such a lot of work getting AR off the ground for all of us involved in the imprint, but frankly it’s authors who should win awards, such as our Lauren Beukes taking the Arthur C Clarke Award in 2011. The danger is that it’ll go my head and I’ll start demand to be carried to and from editorial meetings in some kind of bejewelled palanquin affair.
It was shame I couldn’t be there in person to collect the, um, delightful melted silver head of HP Lovecraft that is the award, but I rather like the idea of Angry Robot types being sinister, shadowy figures plotting away behind the scenes. The committee were kind enough to mail it to me and it takes pride of place in the AR office, next to some voodoo chickens and a head-hunter brain fork Kaaron Warren sent us from Fiji.
Since your win, you have announced a new young adult imprint for Angry Robot Books, Strange Chemistry. How did this new imprint come about? (Is there a particular gap in the market you are aiming for?)
We have always had a younger SF/fantasy market in our sights. With its fresh take on stories and packaging, Angry Robot appeals particularly for younger or would-be younger readers, more 20s/30s than 40s/50s. But at the younger end there is plentiful crossover with the new approaches to SF settings that some definite YA fiction employ. In short, some of our readers are already enjoying YA, some teen readers are already enjoying Angry Robot titles, and we think our approach will suit YA too.
Under new editor Amanda Rutter, previously a very dedicated and clever blogger, Strange Chemistry is taking shape rapidly, with five books out between Sept and Nov 12, and a full programme hard on its heels. All are somewhere on the fantasy-science fiction-supernatural axis, but other than that the only thing that unites them really is that they’re rattling good reads.
You also mentioned that you had another imprint on the horizon. Can you give us any hints about that?
It’s no real secret that we advertised for a crime fiction editor a few months ago. We’ve just appointed someone rather special to head it, and will be announcing the whole thing any day now, just as soon as we’ve stopped having fist fights over what to call it.
It’s a pretty tough market for publishing at the moment. Launching new imprints seems counter intuitive in such an environment. What do you know that the rest of us don’t?
In short, people will always want stories. Right now, we’re in a period in which no one is quite certain what will end up being the vehicle to carry those stories, but other than that it’s business as usual. In some ways we’ve been helped by starting now, I would argue – no legacy of doing things a different, more traditional way that has had to be unpicked. Ebooks and audio as standard. Simultaneous releases in the US, UK and worldwide wherever possible. It seems so sensible, frankly.
Marc you are guest of honour for the Australian National Science Fiction Convention (Conflux 9) in 2013. Have you been to Australia before?
I haven’t – not been further from the UK than the US or Italy, in fact. I’m very excited about the trip, and I hope to spend perhaps a week seeing more of what sounds like such a beautiful country. And more of Canberra if I have to as well.
You have a few Australian authors in the Angry Robot Books publishing list. Will you be looking for a few more?
I am definitely not being held at gunpoint nor being pressured in any way when I say that we would be delighted to publish more authors from Australia, to join Kaaron, Jo and Trent. These days the world is so much smaller thanks to the internet, authors can come from anywhere. All you need is to be bloody great. Simple.
Thanks for giving us the interview Marc. We are looking forward to having you down under.