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The Emancipist by Veronica Sweeney


(This article is also featured on Writing.ie)

Veronica Sweeney has been a published novelist for twenty-eight years. She wrote her trilogy, The Emancipist, after nine and a half years of research. It was first published in one volume by Pan MacMillan in 1985 and reprinted consistently for twenty years by publishing houses such as Century Hutchinson, Simon & Schuster, Avon Books, Bantam and HarperCollins. It is now being printed by Selfpublishbooks.ie as a trilogy.

“I was surprised that the publishers didn’t want a trilogy,” she says, “It was published as one book, which I had to cut in order to make the single large volume … much was left out, and I was very happy to discover Kindle, so the eBook contains material left out of the original.”

 

I ask Veronica which books or authors inspire her. “I like the works of Ruth Rendell and PD James – they produce great stories with fine writing. I love Terry Pratchett, clever writing with a heart. Other than these I read everything from Jane Austen to Eric Fleming. No Fifty Shades fan here, then? “Not much into modern romances,” she replies, “too predictable!”

 

Veronica expands her answer, revealing a characteristic charm of her work: “Publishers have always complained that my work is ‘quirky’, and I like books that are slightly different and have the author’s own voice without being too formulaic. I love it when I want to read a sentence twice because it’s so clever or insightful. I like having to admit, ‘Jeez, I wish I’d written that!’”

 

As for inspiration, Veronica names only one thing: “My mother read to me all through my childhood – following the words on the page meant that I could read at the age of three. She also read me poetry – there were loads of books of poetry in the house. So I think I grew up with the cadence of words, and their power. She bought me a book on stories from Shakespeare, which inspired me to read the originals. I read all the plays of Shakespeare at thirteen and I think … that this was a pivotal time for me, the inspiration of a rattling good yarn beautifully written. Something to aspire to, but unattainable of course!”

 

Veronica is an established novelist with an international reputation, but when she recently made the switch from traditional publishing to self-publishing, she knew she was taking a risk. “But I needn’t have worried,” she said, “It’s been fun … and – I can’t stress this enough – to be able to choose my own covers and design after twenty-eight years as a professional novelist has been the best part.” Lettertec, the printing press in County Cork with a self-publishing imprint Selfpublishbooks.ie, is producing The Emancipist in three separate volumes this year.

 

I ask Veronica how self-publishing caught her eye: “Amazon Kindle first of all – it’s levelled the playing field for writers at last. We’re back to the early days of the printing press, like Erasmus! Get a good idea and take it to the printer – before publishers and agents became involved!

 

“The whole process was very speedy,” she adds, “I think it took about two weeks, and that was mostly me being very fussy about the cover.

 

Any other reason? “Despite the advent of reading devices such as Kindle and Nook, so many people really like the physical feel of a book, and The Emancipist was the obvious choice, as it’s my favourite of all my work, the one people are always asking me about – and complaining because it’s the size of a house brick! The new version from Lettertec, being in three volumes, solves that!”

 

I also asked Veronica if she had any advice for writers thinking of self-publishing. “Anyone going the way of self-publishing for the first time really should pay the bit extra to have their book checked by a professional editor … The way I work is to finish the seventh, eighth, ninth draft, then put it in a drawer for several months and then come back to it. Self-publishing is no place for wishful thinking … the writing has to be tight and professional, or no one will buy your book but your family.”

 

How was the printed product? “Far better quality than any book I’ve had published. Some paperbacks seem to be printed on newspaper. This version of The Emancipist is a real collector’s copy, limited edition. The first run of Pan MacMillan’s was 100,000 copies! But I’m very proud of my limited run Emancipist – it’s the book I always wanted to see.”

 

Every author has her favourite. Veronica happily imparted hers: “Shannonbrook [Book Three of The Emancipist] … by then Aidan is in middle-age, and very much a product of all that has happened to him. He’s successful, but still believes he can control his environment. … When I did the book tour of Australia, half the women I spoke to said he was a thorough rat and a rogue, and the other half said he was so real that he must exist!”

 

She gleefully adds: “It was fun to create his children, who give him a great shock in refusing to be what he expects.”

 

What’s next, Veronica? “Editing – again – Books Two and Three before sending them to Lettertec, and after that I’ll be uploading my Australian thriller, Dark Obsession – though the title will now be His Dark Obsession – to Amazon Kindle. But there’ll be more books printed by Lettertec, deciding on which ones depends on which ones my readers ask for!”

 

Book One of The Emancipist – titled The Big House – is available now. Books Two and Three will be available in early December, ready for Christmas.

 

To find out more about Veronica and The Emancipist, check out her website veronicasweeney.net

 

 

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J.K. Rowling’s unpublished new novel gets a parody


J.K. Rowling’s new 500-page adult fiction novel The Casual Vacancy is due to be released on the 27th September this year.

The only information any Rowling fans have about the book is what Little, Brown have published on their website:

When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty facade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

The Bookseller today announced that, despite the fact that J.K. Rowling’s book is yet unpublished and the plot in full yet unknown, a parody of The Casual Vacancy, titled The Vacant Casualty, has already been released as an eBook by Boxtree, available for £3.99. It will be published in hardback on the 13th September this year for £8.99.

The Bookseller also said: “The book is set in the English town of Mumford, where all is quiet, apart from the man with the axe in his back who is staggering down the street, leaving a vacancy on the Parish Council. It features Detective Inspector Bradley, a “plodding buffoon, incapable of detecting his own backside”, who teams up with a writer researching a detective novel, and together they blunder towards the identity of the “vacant casualty”, hoping to get to the truth before everyone in the town is murdered.”

The Vacant Casualty‘s publisher described it in more vivid terms: “In this potty-mouthed, depraved parody, strewn with casual violence and sexual deviancy, you’ll discover granny mafia, farting tea-ladies, car chases, serial killers and lashings of tortoise milk. But no immigrants. This is the countryside, after all.”

World rights in The Vacant Casualty by Patty O’Furniture (pseudonym of Bruno Vincent) were acquired direct from the author by non-fiction publishing director Jon Butler, after the idea was prompted in-house.


What do we think?

Jumping on the bandwagon a little too early?

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John Banville to Regenerate Raymond Chandler’s Detective Philip Marlowe


Raymond Chandler, the great American novelist and screenwriter, passed away in 1959, leaving behind him some of the most influential prose in history, a legacy that would impact the Coen Brothers, Paul Auster, Quentin Tarantino, Haruki Murakami to name a few. Chandler is famous for his hardboiled suspense novels, and their subsequent film adaptations, notably Humphrey Bogart’s portrayal of  L.A. Detective Philip Marlowe in films like The Big Sleep.

John Banville — Irish writer born in 1945 — is, according to the British Council, “a philosophical novelist concerned with the nature of perception, the conflict between imagination and reality, and the existential isolation of the individual.” His novel The Sea won the Man Booker Prize in 2005. He also has a crime fiction pen name, Benjamin Black, under which he has written five detective novels.

Yesterday, GalleyCat announced that Banville is to bring back Chandler’s L.A. Detective in a new novel following a press release from the Benjamin Black website. Banville will write the new novel under his pseudonym — this was confirmed by his editor, John Sterling. The book will be written under an arrangement with the Chandler estate, and the US Macmillan imprint Henry Holt will publish the book in 2013.

Along with Marlowe, Banville will bring back policeman Bernie Ohls, “the gumshoe’s good friend”. The book will have an original plot and take place in the 1940s. The setting will remain in Bay City – Chandler’s fictional stand-in for Santa Monica, California – and feature Chandler’s hallmark noir ambience. Banville promises to create a “slightly surreal, or hyper-real, atmosphere” for the novel, exploring some of Marlowe’s Los Angeles.

Banville said: “I love the challenge of following in the very large footsteps of Raymond Chandler. I began reading Chandler as a teenager, and frequently return to the novels. This idea has been germinating for several years and I relish the prospect of setting a book in Marlowe’s California, which I always think of in terms of Edward Hopper’s paintings. Bay City will have a slightly surreal, or hyper-real, atmosphere that I look forward to creating.”

According to Banville’s editor, John Sterling, “John Banville writing as Benjamin Black recreating Raymond Chandler is a perfect literary hand-off. There is no one better to bring Philip Marlowe back to life for the vast readership that loves noir crime fiction.”

Sterling acquired first serial, electronic and audio rights for the book in the United States and Canada from Ed Victor of Ed Victor Ltd. Victor represented both Banville and the Chandler estate in the negotiation. As outlined by the Bookseller, there is yet no word about the book’s publication in the UK, where Banville is represented by Pan Macmillan.

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