Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Book Zone visits Orion Indigo Books

Despite being rushed off my feet with work, yesterday I shot out of school as soon as the buses had cleared and managed to make it to the station in time to get the train into London. Some time ago I was really chuffed to receive an invitation to an event that Orion were holding for bloggers in order to showcase their forthcoming new Young Adult imprint, Indigo. I had been looking forward to this for some time as I have been picking up occasional morsels of information regarding some of the books they have coming out over the next twelve months and we had been promised that this would be the evening when all would be revealed.

I arrived at Orion Towers to find the room already buzzing with the sound that only a (insert collective noun) of excited book loving bloggers can make, and finally got the chance to meet and chat with Becky, aka
The Bookette. There were also a number of other very familiar faces, some of whom I had only seen a few days earlier at the Random House Bloggers' Brunch, and this is another reason why I enjoy these events so much. I love talking about books with other book lovers (and I think my wife gets a little bored with me raving about this book or that book).

We didn't have to wait for long until Nina Douglas and Louise Bowes (respectively Orion publicity manager and marketing manager) moved to the front of the room, and demonstrated the power that all people who have new book information to share possess – the ability to silence a room of bloggers in an instant. We were treated to a presentation of the titles due out in later 2011 and the first part of 2012, and please believe me when I say that there are some cracking sounding books being published under the Indigo banner. Being a YA imprint some of these books may be of little interest to boy readers, but there were more than enough boy-friendly-sounding books to have me hanging on Nina's and Louise's every word:

Shelter by Harlen Coben (published 15th September 2011)

Harlen Coben is a writer of outstanding thrillers for adults, and Nina explained that he had been wanting to write a book for the YA market for quite a long time. I really hope that he manages to transfer the quality of his writing to this younger market, unlike one or two authors-for-adults who have tried this in the past few years.

Harlan Coben's very first young adult project will link in with the storylines in his up-and-coming adult thrillers as Myron Bolitar discovers that his mysterious tearaway younger brother, Brad, has a son – who is now a teenager.

When our series hero's father, Brad, dies in a mysterious accident in South America, Myron is his closest, albeit estranged, relative left and is assigned to be his legal guardian. Will uncle and nephew be able to live with one another? And will our hero be able to resist getting involved in solving a mystery disappearance at his new high school?

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick (published 6th October 2011)

The author who simply cannot be categorised – all of his books are unique in one way or another, and he is a truly gifted author. I loved his White Crow last year and I have been reading his books for some time. This one again sounds like it will refuse to be labelled and I, for one, can't wait to read it (and what stunning cover!).

Have you ever had the feeling that you've lived another life? Been somewhere that has felt totally familiar, even though you've never been there before, or felt that you know someone well, even though you are meeting them for the first time? It happens. In 2073 on the remote and secretive island of Blessed, where rumour has it that no one ages and no children are born, a visiting journalist, Eric Seven, and a young local woman known as Merle are ritually slain. Their deaths echo a moment ten centuries before, when, in the dark of the moon, a king was slain, tragically torn from his queen. Their souls search to be reunited, and as mother and son, artist and child, forbidden lovers, victims of a vampire they come close to finding what they've lost. In a novel comprising seven parts, each influenced by a moon - the flower moon, the harvest moon, the hunter's moon, the blood moon - this is the story of Eric and Merle whose souls have been searching for each other since their untimely parting. Beautifully imagined, intricately and cleverly structured, this is a heart-wrenching and breathtaking love story with the hallmark Sedgwick gothic touches of atmosphere, blood-spilling and sacrifice.

We also had the great pleasure of listening to Marcus read an excerpt from the book, and of course I managed to get him to sign my copies of White Crow and The Book of Dead Days.

The Double Shadow by Sally Gardner (published 3rd November 2011)

I am not yet sure whether this is a boy-friendly book or not, but I just had to mention it as Sally was there on the evening and read a short excerpt from it. Her descriptive writing is of the greatest quality and for those few minutes I was completely hypnotised by the words she was reading. The concept sounds fascinating and I will certainly be giving this one a try and reporting back to you all.

A girl tries to free herself from the terrifying double shadow of her childhood and forge her own future, but she is trapped in a memory machine created by her father.

Arnold Ruben has created a memory machine, a utopia housed in a picture palace, where the happiest memories replay forever; a haven in which he and his precious daughter can shelter from the war-clouds gathering over 1937 Britain. But on the day of her seventeenth birthday Amaryllis leaves Warlock Hall and the world she has known and wakes to find herself in a desolate and disturbing place. Something has gone terribly wrong with her father's plan. Against the tense backdrop of the second World War Sally Gardner explores families and what binds them, fathers and daughters, past histories, passions and cruelty, love and devastation in a novel rich in character and beautifully crafted.

Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding (published January 2012)

Chris Wooding is an incredibly talented and imaginative writer, and if you like steampunkish, alternative history, fantasy stories and you have not yet read his The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray then you should make this a priority. He also writes for the adult market, and in 2009 Gollancz (the sci fi/fantasy arm of Orion) published his Retribution Falls. I am reliably informed by other bloggers who have read it that it is brilliant, and I bought a copy a while back that I fully intend to read during the school summer holidays. Anyway, what I am building up to saying is that is seems that Retribution Falls, and its sequel The Black Lung Captain, have built a healthy teen following and so they are going to be re-released as Indigo books.

Frey is the captain of the Ketty Jay, leader of a small and highly dysfunctional band of layabouts. An inveterate womaniser and rogue, he and his gang make a living on the wrong side of the law, avoiding the heavily armed flying frigates of the Coalition Navy. With their trio of ragged fighter craft, they run contraband, rob airships and generally make a nuisance of themselves. So a hot tip on a cargo freighter loaded with valuables seems like a great prospect for an easy heist and a fast buck. Until the heist goes wrong, and the freighter explodes. Suddenly Frey isn't just a nuisance anymore - he's public enemy number one, with the Coalition Navy on his tail and contractors hired to take him down. But Frey knows something they don't. That freighter was rigged to blow, and Frey has been framed to take the fall. If he wants to prove it, he's going to have to catch the real culprit. He must face liars and lovers, dogfights and gunfights, Dukes and daemons. It's going to take all his criminal talents to prove he's not the criminal they think he is ...

The Double-Edged Sword by Sarah Silverwood (published January 2012)

Yes, this is another book that has already been published by Gollancz and will be reissued as an Indigo book, and it was one of my favourite books of last year (see my review here). Just last week I received a copy of the sequel, Traitor's Gate (also scheduled for an Indigo release, in March 2011), and I am about to start reading it this evening. If it is even half as good as its predecessor I could be in for a very late night.

Finmere Tingewick Smith was abandoned on the steps of the Old Bailey. Under the guardianship of the austere Judge Harlequin Brown and the elderly gentlemen of Orrery House, Fin has grown up under a very strange set of rules. He spends alternate years at two very different schools and now he's tired of the constant lies to even his best friends, to hide the insanity of his double life. Neither would believe the truth! But on his sixteenth birthday, everything changes. The Judge is killed, stabbed in the chest with a double-edged sword that's disturbingly familiar, and from that moment on, Fin is catapulted into an extraordinary adventure. Through the Doorway in Fin's London, a hole in the boundaries of Existence, lies another London -- and now both are in grave danger. For the Knights of Nowhere have kidnapped the Storyholder, the keeper of the Five Eternal Stories which weave the worlds together. Because of the Knights' actions, a black storm is coming, bringing madness with it. Fin may be just 16, but he has a long, dark journey ahead of him if he is to rescue the Storyholder and save Existence!

Hollow Pike by James Dawson (February 2012)

Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to chat with James at the recent Orion summer party, but there is a lot of love for him on Twitter, and an awful lot of bloggers desperate to read his debut book, Hollow Pike. The brief details we were given sound fascinating, and the cover to the book (officially unveiled last night to us lucky few) is stunning. James (who you should follow on Twitter as @_jamesdawson) revealed the cover to the rest of the world this evening on his blog so I feel it is now ok for me to show it to you as well.

When Lis London moves to Hollow Pike, she's looking forward to starting afresh in a new town, but when she sees the local forest she realizes that not everything here is new to her. She's seen the wood before - in a recurring nightmare where someone is trying to kill her! Lis tells herself there's nothing to her bad dreams, or to the legends of witchcraft and sinister rituals linked with Hollow Pike. She's settling in, making friends, and even falling in love - but then a girl is found murdered in the forest. Suddenly, Lis doesn't know who to trust anymore...

As well as Marcus and Sally, we were also very fortunate to meet Sara Grant and Kate Harrison, both of whom treated us to readings from their respective books, Dark Parties and Soul Beach. I am not entirely sure at the moment whether these will have huge appeal, but if they do then I am sure reviews will appear on The Book Zone at some point in the future. I had a lovely long chat with Kate about boys and reading but unfortunately time disappeared very quickly and I never had the chance to chat with Sara.

There were many more books mentioned during the evening, but I think these should be enough to whet your appetite for now. As I get fed more information in the future from Orion about their Indigo book I will make sure that I pass it on to you.

My huge thanks go to Nina, Louise and their team for inviting me to such an enjoyable event, it was well worth another late night and a very tired and bleary-eyed drag through the school day today. My only regret is that I concentrated a little too much on talking to the bloggers I already know and didn't get the chance to introduce myself to Andrew (aka The Pewter Wolf), Michael (aka Achuka) and others. Sorry guys – hope we get the chance to chat soon.

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