Sunday, June 3, 2012

Catching Cold In The USA

The US cover without review quotes
Its been a while since I've had a crime novel published in America. Three years in fact. My last novel to come out Stateside was Fifty Grand which was brought out by Holt in 2009. This was not a pleasant experience. Two months before Fifty Grand was due to be released my editor left the company (editors dont just edit the book, they're the ones that get you reviews, PR and the oxygen of publicity) and three weeks before the pub date her replacement editor left. The book had no one looking after it and there was no book launch, no PR, no advertising and I had to beg Holt to send out review copies. (In the end I sent out review copies out of my own pocket.) The book died an ignominious death of neglect which was a shame because Fifty Grand went on to get good reviews and was shortlisted for the Theakston Best British Crime Novel Award. What was even more galling for me was the PR blitz Holt set in motion for John Banville, who had decided that he was going to write crime novels under the name Benjamin Black. Black's novels were everything I was opposed to in crime fiction: cliched, mannered, dull, cozy, old fashioned and pandering to an Americanised nostalgic vision of Ireland; but Holt pushed Banville out there like he was the second coming of Dashiell frickin Hammett. After that I decided I was never going to allow any of my books to be published by a major corporate US house again and I said as much in print. It was a bold statement but there weren't really any takers for my books in America so it was all a bit moot anyway. 
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Early this year, however, I was approached by an editor called Dan Mayer who was starting a new imprint in the autumn of 2012 called Seventh Street Books. (Seventh Street, of course, is where Edgar Allan Poe lived). Dan said that he wanted to publish new, outsider voices who had something urgent to say and who rejected the moribund cliches of much contemporary crime fiction. He told me that he had read The Cold Cold Ground and wanted to publish me. I had heard this line from editors before: we want outsiders, we want new voices, we want original ideas and then you look at their list and its Marcia Clark from the OJ Simpson trial and a celebrity chef who has had an idea for a mystery novel. But Dan seemed different. For a start he got on my good side by praising the work of Declan Burke and then when he asked me questions about The Cold Cold Ground his observations were smart, knowledgeable and pertinent. Publishing is full of bullshit artists but Dan evidently wasn't one of those. (I was once in a meeting with an editor who told me that he had "been to Ireland twice to golf at St Andrews and Troon.") Dan appeared to be that rare bird who cared about the literary heritage of crime fiction and was in a position of power to create a list that embraced his vision. 
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So anyway this is a long preamble to pretty exciting news for me. The Cold Cold Ground is being published in the US this November by a brand new imprint: Seventh Street Books. I've made one or two minor changes to the American version and the novel will come with a new cover as a paperback original at a very reasonable fifteen dollar price (10 bucks on Amazon). You can look at the Amazon listing here (and you can "like it" if you want too). I hope the book does well. The critics have been very very kind in the UK, Ireland and Australia so it might be pushing my luck to hope for a similar ride in the US but we shall see...