Archive for General skiffy bollocks

Apr
22

Hugo Award Nominations

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On Saturday, the Angry Robot staff members were a happy mix of chocolate-face-stuffing, Easter-con-partying, and usual-weekend-shenanigans…and then, the Hugo Award finalists were announced, and our Easter weekends got even better!

This year we have had our best showing ever with eight nominations:

• John W Campbell Award for best new writer – Wesley Chu, Ramez Naam
• Best Fancast/podcast – Emma Newman‘s “Tea & Jeopardy“, and our own Mike Underwood as part of the Skiffy & Fanty Show team
• Best Related Work – Kameron Hurley
• Best Fan Writer - Kameron Hurley
• Best Novelette (short novel/long short story) – Aliette de Bodard
• and last but definitely not least, Best Editor – Lee Harris (the first *ever* Brit to be nominated as Best Editor in the 50+ years that this award has been running) and do check out Lee’s own blog post about his nomination here and the Angry Robot nominations here

 

Congratulations to all, and roll on the London Worldcon in August, when the results will be announced.

 

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Apr
14

Guest Post: Ferrett Steinmetz

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When I was fifteen, my parents dragged me to a book release party.  Not that I knew it was a book release party; I was, like every fifteen-year-old kid, self-centered to the point that I wore my colon as a hat.  It was at the Goldsteins’ house, so I assumed it was another party celebrating the fact that brave Mrs. Goldstein had survived yet another round of brain surgery. 

But no.  Mrs. Goldstein – a clear-eyed woman who walked with the help of a cane – pressed a hardcover book into my hand.

“I wrote this,” she told me.  “About my experiences, relearning how to walk and talk and write.  It’s a memoir.”  And though I’d read so many stories that I had ink permanently dotted on my nose from sticking it in books, it had never occurred to me that actual people wrote them.  Authors were Gods who lived in little editorial heavens, flinging down books from clouds up high.

But Mrs. Goldstein had written a book.  And taken it to the publishers in New York.  And gotten it published.  She told me all about how she wrote it, how you had to send it in a manila envelope to people, the letters of rejection you’d get, and slowly I came to understand that books – books! – were written by people like you and me.

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When I was fifteen, I vowed to publish a novel.
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When I was nineteen, I wrote my first novel: “Schemer and the Magician.”  It was about a nerdy college kid (basically me) and a wiseass college kid (also basically me) who got kidnapped by aliens and sucked into a galactic war OF INCONCIEVABLE CONSEQUENCES.

…It wasn’t very good.

I sent it to two agents, who wisely never responded.
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When I was twenty-three, I wrote my second novel: “A Cup of Sirusian Coffee.”  It was a Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy-style riff on the afterlife, where for all eternity you were forced to do whatever you did in life.  Were you a plumber?  Look forward to spending the next five Pleistocene epochs fixing pipes.

I wrote the first three chapters, handed them around to my college buddies, who thought it was hysterical.  So every day I cranked out another chapter, handing out printed manuscripts to a small group of fans who demanded to know what happened next, until eventually I snowballed a slim plot into a musical Ragnarok that shut the universe down.

This one I sent out to three agents, two of whom dutifully informed me that I was not quite as clever as I thought.
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When I was thirty, I wrote my third novel: “The Autonomist Agenda, Part I.”  Screw my own muse, I thought: this one would be commercial.  So I wrote the first book in a huge and complex fantasy series, complete with smoldering relationships guaranteed to appeal to the ‘shipper crowd, and prophecies that propelled a young boy on the inevitable journey to become a Big Damn Hero, and even a gay warrior because I was Just That Ahead Of The Curve.

(Not that it was revealed he was gay until Part II.  I had Plans, you see.  I’d sell all three books at once!)

I slipped a copy to my friend Catherynne Valente, who’d had some success at this writing gig.  She read part of it, then took me out to a sad lunch at Bob Evans to break the news.

“I guess you could get this published somewhere,” she told me.  “But is this really what you want your name on?”

I guess I didn’t.

But damn, I wanted my name on something.
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When I was thirty-two, I wrote my fourth novel: “On The Losing Side Of The Dragon.”  Sure, the knight eventually kills the dragon, but what about all those poor schmucks who get killed along the way?

I gave it to my wife.  She informed me she liked how it ended, really liked it, but the beginning was tedious.  She would never have gotten to the good stuff if she hadn’t been, you know, obligated to read my crap on account of our wedding vows consisting of the words “to love, honor, and beta-read.”

I locked myself in my room and cried all evening.  Thirteen years of effort, and I had not managed to write one single novel that anyone wanted to read.  I had not sold one story.

All I’d ever wanted to do was write novels, and I pretty much sucked at it.
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When I was thirty-five, I wrote my fifth novel: “A Cup Of Sirusian Coffee.”  Wrote the whole goddamned thing from scratch.  It was a funny idea, and my college buddies still asked about it, so clearly I just needed to go back to the drawing board.

This was novel #5 – and that was the toughest one.  See, Stephen King, my favorite Unca Stephen, had written five novels before he sold his first one.  He’d famously wadded up Carrie and thrown it in the trash, and his wife had rescued it, put his ass back in the seat, told him to keep going.  He did.  Fame and fortune resulted.

That meant this was my lucky novel.  This was the one I was guaranteed to publish.  After all, how many novels did you have to write before you got good?

After sending the new manuscript far and wide, I heard back from a publisher two years later.  They told me the opening paragraphs were “interesting” but then it “fell apart quickly… if the author could capture the style of those first paragraphs again, it might be worth it.”

But by then, I’d pretty much given up trying.
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When I was thirty-eight, Catherynne Valente yelled at me.  “Just send in the damn application,” she said.

“I’m not a good writer,” I told her.  “The Clarion Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop is for serious writers.  I’ve sold three stories in twenty years, for $15 total.  I’m never going to get in.”

She smiled.  “So send it in.  Just to shut me up.”

I did.

I got accepted.

I got scourged.

I got to learn that over the last twenty years, I’d accreted all kinds of bad habits – lazy dialogue, flabby prose, a reliance on recreating stereotypes instead of actually writing about people I knew.  Clarion taught me that I wasn’t a bad writer, I’d just been too overconfident in my raw abilities… and now that I had finally been forced to acknowledge all my weak spots, I could fix those and reinvent myself for the better.

Over the next three years, I sold fourteen stories, five of them at professional rates.  For which I still thank Catherynne.

But I wasn’t quite ready to write a novel.  Not yet.
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When I was forty-one, I finally got the courage back to work on my sixth novel: a sweeping science-fiction epic called “The Upterlife.”  I spent a year revising it, and – I shit you not – not two hours after I finished the final draft of that damn novel, Mary Robinette Kowal called me up to tell me that my novelette Sauerkraut Station had been nominated for the Nebula Award.

If that wasn’t a signal from God that I was ready to sell a damn novel, what was?  I sent that manuscript to all the best agents, with a killer query, telling them by way, I’m up for a Nebula this year and I just happen to have this novel for you.

They all rejected it.

Every.

Last.

One.
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When I was forty-three, I wrote my seventh novel.  It was Breaking Bad with magic, a desperate bureaucromancer turned to manufacturing enchanted drugs to save his burned daughter, and it was by far the best thing I’d ever written.  I polished that sucker until it shined.  It shined.

But I was two novels beyond Stephen King.  I’d been struggling to get a novel published for twenty-four years now, clawing at the walls of the Word Mines, and I had no hope of anything but oh God I couldn’t stop and I realized that I wasn’t going to stop, that the breath in my body would run out before I stopped writing tales and who the hell cared if I got published or not I was locked in.  I had to create.  I had to.
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And I sold it.
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Flex, by Ferrett Steinmetz.  The story of Paul Tsabo, bureaucromancer, his daughter Aliyah, and the kinky videogamemancer Valentine DiGriz, who I’m pretty sure you’re gonna love.  Published by Angry Robot books – the very publisher of whom I said to my wife, “If I could have any publisher take my first book, it’d be Angry Robot.”

Coming to bookstores on September 30th.
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I don’t care what novel you’re on.

Do not give up.

Apr
03

SFX: Get Your Free AR ebooks!

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SFX247_cover_digi-610x783The lovely folks over at SFX have teamed up with us angrier people and together we’re delighted to bring you TWO free ebooks!

In case you didn’t notice with all our earlier celebrations, we’re pretty proud of reaching our 100th book release – Adam Christopher‘s Hang Wire, and we’re rounding this out with an exclusive offer for all SFX readers.

To get your free copy of Empire State by Adam Christopher and/or (hey, why not get both of them!) Zoo City by Lauren Beukes, follow the instructions in your copy of this month’s SFX.

And funny how I just happen to have some links to hand to help you pick up your copy of SFXPrint version and iPad version.

This free ebook offer is valid until 30th April, and is open to readers worldwide. The ebooks are available in epub and mobi formats.

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In all its glory (no, I won’t paste the redeeming instructions):

For tweeting etc

Angry Robot is delighted – nay, thrilled – to announce another amazing project, which is destined to pave the way forward for publishing from now until…

Oh, you know… Whatever. It’s April 1st. Let’s just assume we’ve come up with an Oh My God Most Amazing, Yah prank, and posted it here, and that you fell for it for about 6 seconds before glancing at the date in the top left of this post, and mentally kicking yourself, before saying, “Oh, those most angry of robots – what a wacky crew! They sure done got me!”

panda cubs

And then we’ll all have a laugh and sail off into the sunset on our hover chairs.

Have a picture of some panda cubs.

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PRESS RELEASE: 30 JANUARY 2014: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Angry Robot Books brings ebook bundling program to the USA

KEY NOTE: In 2012, Angry Robot Books began partnering with Indie bookshops in the UK to offer free ebook bundling via the Clonefiles initiative. Angry Robot has been giving DRM-free ebook editions free as companions to all physical books sold at participating Clonefiles stores. Now, Clonefiles is coming to North America.

AR ClonefilesDETAILS: With BitLit as a fulfillment partner, Angry Robot has teamed up with leading independent bookstores McLean and Eakin Books and Prairie Lights Books to offer free ebook editions with all physical copies of Angry Robot Books sold at these two stores.

Angry Robot have always been champions of DRM-free eBook publishing and are been eager to experiment with new business and distribution models. A dual-format offering for Indies is a natural extension of Angry Robot’s customer-first ethos and a great way for Angry Robot to show some love for the USA’s fantastic Indie bookshop scene.

 

Upon purchase of physical book, customers will receive information on how to download the free BitLit app and use it to claim their free ebook edition of Angry Robot Books.

CALLING BOOKSTORES: Angry Robot is looking to expand the program to other independent bookstores across the USA and Canada. Interested bookstores should contact Mike Underwood at mike.underwood@angryrobotbooks.com for more information.

 Prairie Lights Books

http://prairielights.com

 McLean and Eakin Booksellers

http://www.mcleanandeakin.com/

 BitLit

www.bitlit.com

*PRESS RELEASE: 28 January 2014: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE*

Angry Robot Signs Award-Winning Author Kameron Hurley in Two-Book Deal

Angry Robot is excited to announce the signing of Kameron Hurley – the award-winning author of God’s War – for at least two books in the Worldbreaker Saga. Book 1, The Mirror Empire, will be published worldwide in September this year, with the sequel to follow a year later. The worldwide rights deal was negotiated between Senior Editor, Lee Harris and Hannah Bowman of Liza Dawson Associates.

On the eve of a catastrophic event, three unlikely champions must unite a fractured world to avert its extinction.

Khurley Photo-comicKameron Hurley: “Super stoked to be part of the Angry Robot team. They’re a great group of folks publishing an astonishing range of exceptional fiction. Best of all, being among the crazy bunch of authors I see on their list makes me feel right at home. Can’t wait to see The Mirror Empire join the fray.”

Lee Harris: “I’m tremendously excited to be able to welcome Kameron to the Angry Robot conclave. She’s one of the most exciting and talented authors working in the fantasy genre, today, and a great fit for our list.”

 

From the award-winning author of God’s War comes a stunning new series…

About The Mirror Empire:

On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past… while a world goes to war with itself.

In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin.

As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war, a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father’s people or loyalty to her alien Empress.

Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself.

In the end, one world will rise – and many will perish.

About Kameron: Kameron Hurley is an award-winning author, advertising copywriter, and online scribe. Hurley grew up in Washington State, and has lived in Fairbanks, Alaska; Durban, South Africa; and Chicago. She has degrees in historical studies from the University of Alaska and the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, specializing in the history of South African resistance movements.

Hurley is the author of God’s WarInfidel, and Rapture, a science-fantasy noir series which earned her the Sydney J. Bounds Award for Best Newcomer and the Kitschy Award for Best Debut Novel. She has been a finalist for the Nebula Award and the Locus Award. Her work has also been included on the Tiptree Award Honor List. Hurley’s short fiction has appeared in magazines such as LightspeedEscapePod, and Strange Horizons, and anthologies such as The Lowest Heaven and Year’s Best SF. Her fiction has been translated into Romanian, Swedish, and Russian. She is also a graduate of Clarion West.

Contact: Publicity Manager Caroline Lambe: caroline.lambe@angryrobotbooks.com

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total-film-magazine-4367-a-1389784791-470-75January’s issue of Total Film not only features on-set exclusives for Spider-Man 2, interviews with Colin Farrell, and reviews of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug but excitedly, there is a FREE eBook of Ramez Naam‘s Nexus for every reader!

In 2013, the screen rights to Nexus, Ramez’s nanotech mind-control novel, were acquired by Paramount Pictures, with the project to be produced by Mary Parent and Cale Boyter through their Disruption label and Darren Aronofsky and Scott Franklin through their Protozoa banner. Rights acquisitions don’t always mean the movie will come to fruition, but with such fantastic names involved, it’s worth celebrating again!

Lucky Total Film readers can also download copies of Exhibit A‘s Scare Me by Richard Parker which was bought by Relativity Media with Wentworth Miller adapting the novel for the big screen, AND Strange Chemistry‘s Blackwood by Gwenda Bond which MTV has put in development, from Lionsgate Television and Kelsey Grammer’s Grammnet Prods.

Have you read these books? Did you know about their TV/movie potentials? Pick up a copy of this month’s Total Film - either online on Apple or here’s where you can order your print copy - and find out how to download your free copy of these books!

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Ever wondered about the science behind Ramez Naam‘s Nexus and Crux? This video’s definitely for you: Ramez giving his TedxRainier talk on the science of linking human minds.

Ramez also has a brief post on this talk over on his site, and here’s your handy link.

(Hanky alert: just wait until you see the baby’s face when he hears for the first time…)

 

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Dec
09

An Irish Christmas

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As part of our authors’ 12 Days of Christmas, which will start on Friday 13, the AR/SC/EA team have been given space to blather on about what Christmas means to them. First up, here’s Publicity Manager Caroline Lambe – feeling strange, writing about herself in the third person but how and ever.

Remember to check out each day’s post to discover whose books are reduced to £1 in our Pre-Christmas Sale of Madness!

This is nostalgic indulgence, but for those with an interest, here’s what an Irish Christmas means to me.

There are many notable events that signal the beginning of Christmas in Ireland. These are moments that reduce me to childish glee, and utterly unashamedly! Read More→

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The Goodreads Choice Awards 2013 have just been announced, and we are delighted that Wesley Chu is in the…

 Top 10 for Best Science Fiction! Read More→

Nov
28

Team Robot Blogger Award: The Winners!

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The Winners

 

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Well done to all our short-listed blogs, and those nominated by the authors. But we can only have one winner for each award, and here they are: Read More→

Nov
28

Team Robot Blogger Award

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As most of you are probably aware, we here at Robot HQ adore our blogs, bloggers, readers of blogs, and all things related. We really appreciate everything they do to help us promote our books, authors, and indeed Angry Robot, Strange Chemistry, and Exhibit A. With today being Thanksgiving, we thought it was the perfect time to announce our Team Robot Blogger Award. We want to give back to those bloggers who work tirelessly, for no financial gain, and in their own free time, to read more books than we can even publish, and spread the word to the reading – and buying – public. Read More→

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Well, well, post-WFC slump, we laugh in your face! Because we came back to work to the wonderful news that Wesley Chu‘s The Lives of Tao has been nominated for the Goodreads Choice Awards 2013 for Best SciFi! Wes is amongst some of the finest writers including Margaret Atwood, Peter F. Hamilton, John Scalzi, and Orson Scott Card, and damn, does he deserve to be there.

Here’s how Goodreads select their nominees:

“We analyze statistics from the 250 million books added, rated, and reviewed on the site in 2013 to nominate 15 books in each category. Opening round official nominees must have an average rating of 3.50 or higher. ”

Which means Wes has already been causing some great chatter on Goodreads, but to get recognised for it is pretty special. We don’t like to ask too much of you, our wonderful Robot Army and supporters, but please do get behind Wes and this wonderful book and vote here: HANDY VOTING LINK and if you really want to help, please spread the word. Tell your friends, neighbours, teachers, colleagues, postman, checkout assistant, person-sitting-beside-you-on-the-bus, hey, tell the world!

If you’re on Twitter, join the conversation by using #GoodreadsChoice

And if you haven’t read The Lives of Tao yet and are wondering what all the fuss is about, what are you waiting for? The sequel, The Deaths of Tao, is out in the US and ebook and is out this Thursday in the UK!

The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu

 

Hi folks,

The Open Door process was brought in by Angry Robot a few years ago, and whilst we know – and celebrate – our authors that made it through, we realised that you, the lovely reader or busily-searching-for-publishing-deal author, mightn’t be aware which of our wonderful authors came through the process.  So, we’re taking a moment to mark those authors who made it through, and hear their thoughts on it. Strange Chemistry are currently running an Open Door at the minute, so do head over if YA SF/F/WTF is right up your alley! But for now, over to Amanda, and the authors.

C

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As some of you are no doubt aware, at Strange Chemistry we’re very keen to find new writing talent, and, as such, we have opened to unagented submissions for the second year running. The Open Door is something that Angry Robot began a couple of years back and they enjoyed enormous success, signing some immensely talented authors. We caught up with a few of them to ask them what the Open Door has meant for them and how their lives have changed.

Freya Robertson

Freya-Robertson-300x300Hi! I’m Freya Robertson and my first book with Angry Robot—an epic fantasy called Heartwood—comes out on October 29th this year.

My story starts in 2011. I’d finished Heartwood and touted it around a few agents, but had little interest. Then in April 2012 I saw that Angry Robot had an Open Door submission policy for two weeks. Bloggers were full of praise for the publisher, so I decided to take the plunge.

I read the first 10,000 words, polished, and worked hard on the two-sentence summary and synopsis. Then I emailed it off, put it to the back of my mind and carried on writing other things.

In September Amanda sent an email saying she’d enjoyed what she’d read and would like to read more. This is about when my head exploded. I had a request for a full! I read through the whole manuscript in two days, polishing and tweaking, and sent it off.

In October Amanda returned to say she had enjoyed the full and passed it onto Lee Harris. She said “You’ve basically reached the final stage – he’ll either reject or make an offer.”

Any writer will tell you that the hardest part of the submission process (apart from actually pressing Send!) is the waiting. I managed to make it until February before I queried. Lee came back to me to say he liked it and was taking the book to his colleagues, and could I send any plans I had for a follow-up novel please. After picking myself off the floor, I wrote up my ideas for a sequel and emailed it off. A week later Lee emailed back to offer me a two book contract with an option on a third.

Apart from my wedding day and the birth of my son, that was the happiest day of my life. A good friend announced it in the staff meeting of the school where I work, and all day people came in to congratulate me. That night we had a party and it’s possible I may have drunk too much :-)

I’d already had twenty digital romances published. But fantasy and sci-fi are my first love, and I put my heart and soul into Heartwood. To think it is going to be on the shelves soon as a real book is a dream come true.

I thank AR for the opportunity to submit without an agent from the bottom of my heart. The process now of seeing my cover, the map I drew by hand translated by a proper cartographer, and my story tightened and made better by Lee’s careful touch is just wonderful.

AR continues to go from strength to strength gaining spectacular reviews and praise, and I’m thrilled to be a part of the team. So if you’re wondering whether to push that Send button, I urge you to go for it! And may the luck of the ‘Verse be with you :-)

Cassandra Rose Clarke

I hate writing queries. Hate them, hate them, hate them. Moreover, I’m apparently bad at them, as evidenced byCassandra-R-Clarke-400x560 the fact that I sent out almost a hundred of the things and only had two or three agents look at my work. The AR Open Door was a miracle to me.

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter was the second book I wrote and the first that I queried, which got me nowhere. I was about to give up on the whole writing professionally thing (yes, really) when I decided to submit The Mad Scientist’s Daughter to the first Open Door Month. I expected my submission to be rejected as my queries had, and every time it moved up the chain was a pleasant surprise.

I’ve written about and GIF-ified my experience on the day that I learned the novel had been accepted, so I won’t repeat that here. But I will say this: I received that initial Yes, we’ll take it! email in October 2011. In the not-quite-two years since, I’ve published three novels. Two more are on the way. And one of my novels, the first one, was nominated for YALSA’s 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults list.

Not bad for someone who was ready to throw it all to the wayside and expend her creative energy on Harry Potter fanfiction, huh?

I’m still not convinced I’d have an agent, much less a publishing contract, if it weren’t for the Open Door Month. That one little decision to submit, made with the expectation of failure, completely opened up my writing career. Now, the process hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows and starred Kirkus reviews—the increased anxiety in particular hasn’t been what I’d call fun—but at the same time, I’m fulfilling a dream I’ve had since elementary school, when I took a future career test on my school’s computer and got “novelist” as my top result (again, really). I know there aren’t a lot of people out there who get to say that, and I’m incredibly grateful for the team at Angry Robot and Strange Chemistry for giving me that opportunity.

Laura Lam

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When I submitted to Angry Robot’s Open Door Month on March 30, 2011, I had no idea how much my life would change. I’d been writing for several years, but I knew nothing about the publishing industry. I was woefully ignorant, but learned from my mistakes (eventually). After subbing a manuscript that needed more editing than I knew how to give it at the time, I settled down for the wait. A few months later, I flew to the East Coast to meet my extended family and had a request for a full manuscript, which made me realise—hey, maybe I don’t suck at this writing thing. After the full manuscript was called in, I started learning more about the publishing industry, making friends via the forum Absolute Write. Then I found out I was going to the editors of AR. It was another AR author, Anne Lyle, who gave me the confidence to go to my first convention, and I angsted with the other people who had their full manuscripts called in (we dubbed ourselves the Anxious Appliances, though now we call ourselves the Inkbots). It was there I became friends with AR author Wesley Chu, who’s now one of my closest friends.

When I sent off that manuscript, I’d daydreamed about getting through the various rounds and getting a book deal, and sometimes I’m still amazed it happened. It wasn’t a bumpless road—that manuscript needed more work and so I had a revision request. They also thought it was more YA, and luckily they were deciding to go that way anyway, and my reader Amanda was promoted to the editor of Strange Chemistry. It was almost a year before I had my final decision about Pantomime, but that gave me time to grow. I learned so much more about writing by gutting Pantomime, re-arranging it, and making it shine. Now I’ve written a sequel, and I’m writing other books, and Pantomime is on the shelf, a real physical book. And that’s awesome.

Wesley Chu

Wesley-ChuOh great Angry Robot Open Submission of 2011, you were a sneaky punk-ass bastard. I shall fondly remember you for the sources of my upset stomachs, mild cases of syphilitic crazed episodes (without the syphilis of course—I swear), and extended struggles with insomnia, but you were so fucking worth it you little sweet, sweet pain in the life-changing ass you.

I know what’s going through your head. If you think syphilis and insomnia sound like a crappy time, you’d be right. I mean, not that I know or anything about syphilis being unpleasant. I’m only assuming it ranks down there somewhere between getting tickled and getting kicked in the gut. Wait, what am I talking about again? Oh yes, back to the great Angry Robot Open Submission of 2011.

Hi, I’m Wesley Chu and I like to write, and through the gentle grace and heavily anodized fist of the mighty robot overlords, I’m the published author of The Lives of Tao and the upcoming The Deaths of Tao (October 29th).
How has the open sub changed my life? There’s something about that first time you make the bookstore pilgrimage to see your little newborn baby sitting on the shelf in its punch-you-in-the-face yellow glory right next to Arthur C. Clarke (because Ch is next to Cl) that you realize that “shit just got real.”

To be honest, I can barely remember what my life was like before the open submission. I was just a squatter who spent countless hours abusing the bottomless cup of coffee policies at cafes chasing a dream. Now…wait, that hasn’t change. What has changed is that now I have a career doing what I love. Someone actually pays me to write! I mean, how ridiculous is that?

So what’s the open door process like? Not gonna lie; it’s going to be long. You’re going to be excited. You’re going to have to wait. You’re going to lose sleep, then you’re going to wait some more. And then maybe, like I did, you’ll seek out others who have also submitted to the open sub as well. You’ll commiserate with them and maybe form an online social group. Maybe they become your writing besties as you all eagerly hit F5 on your inbox every few seconds. Some of you will get rejected, some will be fortunate enough to move on to the next level. The numbers of rejections will eventually begin to pile up and people you grow to care about will drop out one by one.

In the end though, after you’re exhausted from the wait and the many nights of insomnia, when you’re least expecting it, you might get an email from the awesome Ms. Amanda Rutter, telling you how much she enjoys your book and how she wants to share it with the rest of the world.

Then you might suddenly need to sit down as you think to yourself “shit just got real.”

There you go! So, exactly why are you waiting on submitting? You could be the next great novelist on our list!

So look, everyone is saying that Matthew Hughes’ first novel for Angry Robot, The Damned Busters, is bloody great fun. And they are wise to say such a thing, for it be true.

But perhaps as much attention has been paid – by those who’ve seen the physical editions at least – to the fab cover from cartoonist and illustrator Tom Gauld. In the UK, trendy bookish types like us know him from his pithy cartoons on the letters page of The Guardian‘s Review section every Saturday. In the US and even further afield, though, I suspect he is known to just a few connoisseurs of small press cartoon work. So we tracked him down last Friday afternoon and fired a few questions at the fellow. This is what came back… (All images can be clicked for larger versions, in case you were wondering.)

Q: What do you call yourself – graphic artist, cartoonist, professional doodler, etc?
I say “cartoonist and illustrator”.

Q: How did you get into “all this”?
I drew a lot as a child, and when I realised that you could draw as a job I decided that was for me. I studied illustration at Edinburgh College of art and the Royal College and since graduating in 2001 I’ve been drawing full time.

Q: Do you do lots of sketches and throw all the bad ones around the room or do you chew your pencil for days and then nail it first off?
I sit and doodle in my sketchbook and try to play around quite a lot about with ideas before going on to make a picture. My technique is relatively time consuming and its not easy to change things once they’re drawn so I try to think it all through at the beginning.

Q: What’s your typical working day, if there is one?
I’m at my studio from about 8.30am till 4.30pm. I work best in the morning so that’s when I do most of my creative work and in the afternoons I do more research and admin and internet time-wasting.

Q: Is it really annoying, when people say it’s just scribbling and colouring in, and when will you get a proper job?
Well it’s not really a proper job, and much of it IS just scribbling and colouring in. I don’t deny that it’s a nice way to make a living. A more common misunderstanding is that people say “Oh you must have such FUN coming up with all these FUNNY ideas! You must be laughing all day long!” whereas I’m either wracking my brain for a good idea or meticulously editing the idea to make it as funny or interesting as possible.

Q: Do you think there should be more cartoon-style novel covers?
I don’t think THAT many novels really suit this style, but when it’s done right it can be really great: I’d like to see more great ones. Chris Ware’s cover for Candide was one of the first I saw and one of the best.

Q: What would you kill to illustrate?
Kurt Vonnegut’s books.

Q: Anything you really hate/struggle with drawing?
People. I’m continually seeking a way of drawing people which satisfies me and works for my ideas and stories. I’m slowly getting better but I’m not there yet. Robots are so much easier.

Q: You’ve got a really distinctive style – do you ever experiment with other techniques, formats or materials?
I mess around a bit with other things (brushes, colouring pens, collage, Lego) and I find it can be very helpful for generating and exploring ideas, but I tend to find that when it comes to finished work I’m happy with the simplicity of my usual pen on paper style.

Q: Just how obsessed with robots are you?
I wouldn’t like to say obsessed, but I find them almost endlessly interesting. There is tragedy in their place between sentient beings and disposable products. And as I said, they are much easier to draw than real people.

Q: Isn’t it great how many times you sneak SF/genre tropes into your Guardian Review cartoons? (Sorry, that’s more of a statement.)
Yeah. Sci-fi and genre fiction have much better visuals than literary fiction. I’ve attached a cartoon about this.

Q: Which means you must read widely too – who are your favourite authors, any genre?
Off the top of my head Kurt Vonnegut, PG Wodehouse, John le Carre, Magnus Mills, William Golding, Geoges Simenon.

Q: Who in your field deserves more acclaim?
Anders Nilson is an amazing artist, I’m very excited about his forthcoming 600-page epic Big Questions.

Q: What would you be if you didn’t do this?
If I couldn’t draw for a living, I’d like to write or animate. If I had to do something completely different I’d be a baker.

Q: And will we ever see the Bumper Complete Book of Collected Tom Gauld one day?
Yes, well sort of. I’m just finishing up a graphic novel and once that’s out of the way I’m going to figure out a way to collect much of my previous work in some way or other.

Massive thanks to Tom. See his work online at tomgauld.com. And look, he even made us a new Angry Robot logo. <3